Hen­drick driv­ers take both spots on the front row for the Day­tona 500.

The Washington Post - - SPORTS - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

day­tona beach, fla. — Wil­liam By­ron put Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports in a fa­mil­iar po­si­tion: on the pole for the Day­tona 500.

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

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

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

By­ron and Bow­man edged the other two Hen­drick driv­ers: seven-time Cup Se­ries cham­pion Jim­mie John­son and fan fa­vorite Chase El­liott.

“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.

By­ron reached a top speed of 194.304 mph, nearly two-tenths of a sec­ond faster than Bow­man.

The rest of the 40-car lineup will be set by two qual­i­fy­ing races Thurs­day. Thirty-six of those spots are al­ready filled be­cause of NASCAR’s char­ter sys­tem.

Casey Mears and Tyler Red­dick se­cured two of the re­main­ing spots in the Day­tona 500. They posted the top speeds of the six driv­ers vy­ing for four open spots in NASCAR’s sea­son opener.

Joey Gase, Ryan Truex, Parker Kliger­man and Bran­dan Gaughan prob­a­bly will have to race their way into the 500 dur­ing the qual­i­fy­ing races. Two of them will make it, and the other two won’t. . . .

John­son trig­gered a wreck that wiped out nearly the en­tire field at Day­tona and zipped to the lead to win the rain-short­ened ex­hi­bi­tion Clash at Day­tona.

The seven-time Cup Se­ries cham­pion used a dose of ag­gres­sion to put him back in vic­tory lane. Paul Me­nard led 51 laps and con­trolled a race in­ter­rupted mul­ti­ple times for rain. With more rain loom­ing, John­son dipped low and tried to side-draft Me­nard as they bat­tled for the lead. But John­son turned Me­nard and started a chain-re­ac­tion ac­ci­dent that left cars side­ways and smok­ing be­hind the No. 48 Chevro­let.

The rain that ended the race hit not long af­ter the de­ci­sive move.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.