Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 pole, Alex Bowman qualifies second
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start from the pole in the 62nd Daytona 500 while Alex Bowman will start second.
Stenhouse qualified first Sunday with a speed of 194.582 mph and ended Hendrick Motorsports’ streak of five consecutive Daytona 500 poles. It is Stenhouse’s third Cup Series pole
Next Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be Stenhouse’s first start with JTG Daugherty Racing.
“It’s cool,” Stenhouse told Fox. “Tad (Geschickter, team owner) and (wife) Jodi are back at the shop with everybody. So. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be here and to bring guys with me like Brian (Pattie, crew chief). They’ve been working really hard. They’re in my corner. They’ve been behind me throughout all my career. Ernie (Cope, competition director) runs a great organization and a great shop.
“The Hendrick horsepower was amazing. Obviously we’ve got quite a few Hendrick cars right there behind us lined up. Our Camaro ZL1 1LE was really strong. And the winds started picking up there, down the back straightaway; a little headwind for the other guys, so I’m really proud to put our Kroger Chevy on the pole on Kroger pole day for the Daytona 500. That was our goal coming down here. Pattie was working really hard all off-season for that goal. And everybody chipped in, the whole shop. We cut bodies off. We put them back on. So this goes out to the whole shop and I’ve got to thank our other partners as well. I’m looking forward to hopefully continuing this momentum on Thursday.”
2020 is Stenhouse’s first season driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing after a decade with Roush Fenway Racing. This is the team’s third Cup pole. The first two were earned by AJ Allmendinger on road courses.
Bowman posted a speed of 194.363 mph. It is the third straight year Bowman has started on the front row of the Daytona 500. Bowman led a Hendrick effort that saw Chase Elliott post the third best speed and Jimmie Johnson post the fourth.
“There’s a flag at the end of the back straightaway that you can see and kind of see where the wind is at and what it’s doing, and the car kind of fell on its face off of Turn 2,” Bowman said. “You could see the flag was pointed straight at me, so I knew we had a really big headwind. I wasn’t really aware of where the winds were for all the other guys, so I was a little worried about that, but obviously didn’t hurt us too bad. Would have liked to have been a little better, but still pretty good.”
The rest of the field will be set through Thursday’s 150-mile qualifying races. Three cars will fail to make the 40-car field.
Justin Haley and Kaulig Racing locked their No. 16 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 31st best speed, which was the best among the seven “open” cars that don’t have charters, which guarantees a starting spot. It will be the first Cup Series start for the team that competes full-time in the Xfinity Series.
Brendan Gaughan also locked Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 33rd best speed, the second best speed among “open” cars.
Daniel Suarez, who is entering his first season with Gaunt Bros Racing, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 after he posted the 36th best speed. Gaunt Bros Racing is one of the teams without a charter.
“We have to race hard,” Suarez said. “We knew that we would have a lot of challenges and that we didn’t also have the raw speed, but I know what I can do. I just have to go out there ... Thursday and get it done.”