Crash at the Clash

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Sports -

ABOVE Martin Truex Jr. (19), Denny Ham­lin (11), Kevin Har­vick (4), Austin Dil­lon (3), Clint Bowyer (14), Erik Jones (20), Chase El­liott (9), Daniel Suarez (41), Ryan New­man (6), Alex Bow­man (88) and Aric Almirola (10) are in­volved in a multi-car pileup dur­ing the NASCAR Mon­ster En­ergy Cup Clash on Sun­day at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in Day­tona Beach, Fla. Jim­mie John­son trig­gered the wreck, which wiped out nearly the en­tire 20-car field, and zipped to the lead to win the ex­hi­bi­tion. RIGHT Bow­man, left, con­grat­u­lates pole win­ner Wil­liam By­ron, right, af­ter their qual­i­fy­ing runs Sun­day for the Day­tona 500. Bow­man will be in the No. 2 start­ing po­si­tion for the Feb. 17 race. They com­prise the youngest front row in Day­tona 500 his­tory.

DAY­TONA BEACH, Fla. — Wil­liam By­ron put Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports in a fa­mil­iar po­si­tion: on the pole for the Day­tona 500. His big­ger goal is to make the start­ing spot pay div­i­dends for the NASCAR pow­er­house.

By­ron, 21, and team­mate Alex Bow­man, 25, locked in the front row for “The Great Amer­i­can Race” dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing laps Sun­day at Day­tona In­ter- na­tional Speed­way. They com­prise the youngest front row in Day­tona 500 his­tory.

The cov­eted start­ing spot hasn’t meant much for NASCAR’s sea­son opener over the last two decades, though. The last Day­tona 500 pole-sit­ter to win the race was Dale Jar­rett in 2000.

The last four — Hen­drick’s Jeff Gor­don, Chase El­liott (twice) and Bow­man — have failed to notch a top-10 fin­ish.

“To have them on top of each other means the or­ga­ni­za­tion did a heck of a job,” Rick Hen­drick said. “This is the deal to sit on the pole at Day­tona.”

By­ron and Bow­man edged

the other two Hen­drick driv­ers: seven-time Cup Se­ries cham­pion Jim­mie John­son and fan fa­vorite Chase El- li­ott.

“That’s a pretty amaz­ing feat, I feel,” said long­time Hen­drick crew chief Chad Knaus, who is en­ter­ing his first sea­son with By­ron af­ter 18 years with John­son.

AP/PHELAN M. EBENHACK

AP/TERRY RENNA

By­ron

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