Hendrick Motorsports continued its stranglehold on Daytona 500 qualifying with its fifth straight pole award Sunday afternoon.
For the 61st annual Daytona 500, it will be sophomore William Byron leading the field to the green flag. The pole is the first of Byron’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and comes in his first race with Chad Knaus as his crew chief.
The pole-winning speed for Byron was 194.305 mph (46.319 seconds).
“The Axalta Chevy was really fast,” said Byron. “Credit to Chad and all the guys. It’s been a great offseason. We’re prepared. We’re ready. This is kind of the first step of our process together, so hopefully, it goes well next Sunday. We can kind of chill out throughout the Duel races and learn a little bit. I’m looking forward to it. This is awesome.”
Byron will be joined on the front row by HMS teammate Alex Bowman. Bowman was the polesitter in last year’s Daytona 500 and clocked in at 194.154 mph (46.355 seconds).
With Byron’s lap, it also gives Chevrolet its 700th pole in the Cup Series.
Byron and Bowman are the only two drivers with their starting spots locked up for the Feb. 17 race. The rest of the 40-car field will be set Thursday in the Gander RV Duel races.
Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears were the fastest of the teams without a charter, guaranteeing their spots in the Daytona 500.