William Byron Leads Hendrick Sweep Of Daytona 500 Qualifying

William Byron after winning the pole for the Daytona 500 Sunday (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – Paired for the first time with crew chief Chad Knaus, sophomore driver William Byron put his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the pole for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), leading a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the top four spots and extending that organization’s dominance in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.

Byron edged last year’s pole winner, Alex Bowman, by .036 seconds for the top starting spot in the 61st running of NASCAR’s most prestigious race with a lap at 194.305 seconds (46.319 seconds) in the final round of knockout qualifying.

Bowman’s lap at 194.154 seconds knocked seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson (193.807 mph) off the front row for the 500. Johnson, in turn, beat two-time Daytona 500 pole winner Chase Elliott (193.782 mph) for the third fastest lap by .006 seconds.

The Busch Pole Award was the first for Byron in 37 tries. The 21-year-old is the eighth driver to contribute to the total of 13 Daytona 500 poles won by Hendrick Motorsports, which won its fifth straight. 

Only Byron and Bowman are locked into their starting sports for next Sunday’s race. The remaining 38 starting positions will be determined in Thursday night’s Gander RV Duel 150-mile qualifying races (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

“We felt we were prepared and ready and this was sort of the first step of our process together,” Byron said of his new partnership with Knaus, who moved to the No. 24 car this year after winning seven titles as Johnson’s crew chief. 

“Hopefully, it goes well next Sunday. We can kind of hang out during the Duel races, learn a little bit. It’s awesome.”

The pole was the 700th for Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

As fast his car was, Byron acknowledged his lap wasn’t quite perfect.

“We lacked a little bit getting up to speed,” Byron said. “I think a little bit too much wheel spin. This thing is fast, and it’s obviously a lot of credit to the guys. I’m looking forward to next Sunday.”

In a session that both establishes the front row for next Sunday and sets the lineups for the Duels, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Daniel Hemric qualified fifth in his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, giving Chevys the top five laps in the final round.

Reigning Cup champion Joey Logano was sixth in the fastest Ford—the first competitive outing in the Cup series for the new Mustang—and 2017 champ Martin Truex Jr. was seventh in the quickest Toyota entry.

Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin completed the top 12. The last driver to make a qualifying run in the first round, Truex knocked Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch (13th) out of the top 12.

“We ran about what we thought we would, maybe a tick better,” Busch said. “Didn’t expect the rest of the field to be as fast as they are, so we’re a little farther down on the lineup than we’d like to be.”

Two of the six drivers in open cars—those without charters—locked themselves into the Daytona 500. The first was Tyler Reddick, who was a strong 16th in the first round. The second was Casey Mears, who edged the non-chartered No. 71 Chevrolet of Ryan Truex by .028 seconds for the 26th fastest lap.

Truex, Brendan Gaughan (31st), Parker Kligerman (36th) and Joey Gase (42nd) will vie in Thursday night’s Gander RV Duels for the two remaining berths in the Great American Race.


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 61st Annual Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, February 10, 2019

                1. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 194.305 mph.

                2. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 194.154 mph.

                3. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 193.807 mph.

                4. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 193.782 mph.

                5. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 192.460 mph.

               6. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 192.448 mph.

                7. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 192.353 mph.

                8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 192.291 mph.

                9. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192.263 mph.

                10. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.416 mph.

                11. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 191.107 mph.

                12. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 190.492 mph.

                13. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 191.164 mph.

                14. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 191.127 mph.

                15. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 190.957 mph.

                16. (31) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, 190.836 mph.

                17. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.799 mph.

                18. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 190.771 mph.

                19. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.739 mph.

                20. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 190.698 mph.

                21. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 190.589 mph.

                22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 190.432 mph.

                23. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 190.420 mph.

                24. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 190.018 mph.

                25. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 189.978 mph.

                26. (27) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 189.849 mph.

                27. (71) Ryan Truex(i), Chevrolet, 189.737 mph.

                28. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 189.709 mph.

                29. (40) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.482 mph.

                30. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 189.414 mph.

                31. (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 189.394 mph.

                32. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 189.215 mph.

                33. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 189.191 mph.

                34. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.715 mph.

                35. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 188.667 mph.

                36. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 188.206 mph.

                37. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 187.899 mph.

                38. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 187.402 mph.

                39. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 185.847 mph.

                40. (52) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 183.737 mph.

                2 drivers failed to qualify.

                41. (51)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 182.682 mph.

                42. (66)  Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 180.930 mph.

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Comments

  1. I tried. Watched most all of the 500 qualifying mainly because of the modified connection with Preece and the TBR 71. Just hearing Preece’s name was a blast from the past when we routinely heard our local favorites names in the big one. Otherwise it was sad experience so with apologies I now vent.
    The king of qualifying is William Byron who epitomizes for me everything that is wrong with the series. A 21 year old student at Liberty University. The Christian school and home of the “Liberty Way”, that prohibits premarital sex and private interactions alone between members of the opposite sex..And after his achievement Byron is the perfect robot taking rapid fire pictures in succession changing hats and small banners one after the other with the same pre packaged smile. It’s all so contrived and the opposite of spontaneous or joyful.
    Then there are the interviews with Childress and Hendrick. The guys that are like a million years old that are the type of fossils that find the young robots like Byron, put them in the best equipment and roll them out to turn elite lap speeds. Their engines that dominate the series the best of which are allocated to their multi car teams. The multi colored stand seats that are designed specifically to camouflage the empty seats when race day cameras sweep over the track to capture the size and scope of the event. And the Waltrips God bless them. Although separated by decades from the current generation of drivers the network trots them out every year fearful their absence will lose the few old timer fans they have left .Boogity, boogity, boogity.
    Then there is my hero Ryan Preece who embodies everything my ancient experience wants a driver to be. Everything the old Cup series used to value by rewarding people with grass roots experience. A guy that exudes more experience and technical knowledge in his pinky then Byron could attain in the next 5 years if he actually spent his time working at the craft of racing. Working on cars that really serves no purpose now for the current crop of younglings that get much of their experience driving on super speedways in video simulators.
    So here we are. I robot in a car that is preordained to be a front runner supplied by ancient royalty like Hendrick and Childress. While Preece struggles to clock a respectable time with a team that has mostly pluck and a hope that the Hendrick motor they bought is a good one.
    I know, I’m a stereotype. A geezer bemoaning what is gone and will never be again. Nonetheless my clan is going to have a throwback 500 gathering next Sunday in hopes the modified connection teams can pull a surprise.
    Until then I’ll need to recover from clone racing. The prescription? Take 5 nights of modified racing from Florida, watching real drivers with wrinkles and dirt under their fingernails and not going to bed until the checkers fall.

  2. Bill Realist says:

    You better get used to hating him then. I have a feeling that him along with Chad Knuas are going to make it pretty hard on everyone else this year. Robot maybe but one programmed to drive a racecar

  3. getserious says:

    Cup ain’t racing. plain and simple. This RacedayCT site is followed by race fans, and the complete lack of feedback comments on these Cup articles shows how little real race fans care about it. Doug, in one of my favorite well-spelled-out speils of yours, you still have only been able to point out a small portion of the anti-sport cancers in Cup. We know that they continue to destroy what was once vibrant sporting events, so it bugs me that you would watch it at all. The broadcasters know every single box that is tuned in; every box that is a “vote” of support for their product. I will purposely make sure that mine is not tuned to that channel and pumping up their viewership numbers. But, in a manipulated entertainment labelled as sport, where everyone has sold their racing soul for a chance to make big money from the devil known as NASCAR, it warms my heart to see you cling to the simple dream that Preece is somehow the one that is different. Ahhh, yes.

  4. I use an antenna and nobody knows what I watch.

  5. Fast Eddie says:

    Hey Dareal, I bet the “Neilson Ratings” people still know what you’re watching. They’ve been tracking the TV show share ratings long before cable was around.

  6. where did Preece qualify? It doesn’t really matter where you qualify if you aren’t in the top 2. The Daytona starting lineup is determined by the twin races later this week. Do they have a full field this year, are they sending cars home? I think Preece taking over a ride which competed last year he should have an owners provisional anyway.

    I watched a little bit of the Cup race Sunday. It was tough to watch. Jimmie Johnson wrecked the leader who took out most of the field behind them. Their may have been 6 cars left undamaged and they called the race for the guy that took out the leader as it conveniently started raining again. No doubt weather was an issue but the lack of crowd could not be masked by the multicolored seats.

  7. cg cant afford says:

    28th for Preece and it looks like 2 cars are going home as a DNQ. I didn’t scroll down far enough past the advertisement.

  8. Sharpie Fan says:

    And as for starting in the front row…
    I think the statistic they flashed was that the last time it was won from the front row (or pole can’t remember which) was in 2000 by Dale Jarrett. Which just goes to show how important that starting position is for this race.

  9. The only real advantage of qualifying top 2 is you don’t have to race hard in the duels and chance wrecking the primary car.

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