William Byron captured the pole position Sunday in qualifying for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Joining him in the front row at next Sunday’s race will be Alex Bowman, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Hendrick drivers have won the pole the past five Daytona 500s.
Byron’s final-round lap of 194.304 mph edged Bowman’s 194.153 mph.
Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott were third and fourth in qualifying, but only the top two drivers cemented their starting spots for the 500.
The cars that will start in spots three through 40 will be decided Thursday night in two qualifying races, with 42 drivers in the mix. Already, 36 cars have qualified for the Daytona 500, so that leaves six cars contending for four positions.
Byron, 21, is in his second NASCAR season. He earned Rookie of the Year honors last year with four finishes in the top 10. He ranked 23rd in the standings.
In a Twitter post after the qualifying race, Byron celebrated an uplifting start to the season:
“First career NASCAR Cup Series pole and a @TeamHendrick front row for the #DAYTONA500. Not a bad start to 2019!”
— William Byron (@WilliamByron) February 10, 2019