Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin are slated to start from front row at the Daytona 500.
Bowman, who replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet,became the 41st different driver to win the Daytona 500 pole on Sunday when he bumped Hamlin off the top spot in the second qualifying session.
Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and rookie William Byron rounded out the top-five qualifiers.
— Daytona International Speedway (@DISupdates) February 11, 2018
— Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 11, 2018
The 24-year-old Bowman had an unexpected but successful audition in the No. 88 Chevy last season, when Earnhardt was sidelined with a concussion. The young driver posted three top-10 finishes, won a pole and led 200 laps in 10 races. He also finished on the lead lap in seven of his 10 starts.
Earnhardt retired last year after missing half of the 2016 season, though he will be at the track serving as grand marshal for the season-opening race.
Winning the pole doesn’t always mean success in the Daytona 500. In fact, a pole winner hasn’t won the race since Dale Jarrett in 2000.
Only the front row for next week's Daytona 500 will be set Sunday through Daytona's unique qualifying format. The front row will be determined through single-lap time-trial runs, with the rest of the starting lineup set through the Duel qualifying races on Thursday.
The two 150-mile qualifying races, called the Can-Am Duels, will set the starting positions 3-40.