Stenhouse Opens 2020 With Daytona 500 Pole

(DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEB 9, 2020 – RIS) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, in his first drive for JTG-Daugherty Racing after transitioning from a ride with Roush, set a quick time of 0.730 sec quicker than the previous top qualifier, clocking a lap on the 2.5-mile Daytona Speedway of 46.253 sec over Tyler Reddick's lap. His reign on the pole lasted for the rest of the session as variable winds seemed to affect speeds. "It’s cool," said Stenhouse. "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.

"Yeah, it’s huge," he added. "Any time you can start the season off, your first race with an organization, and to see all the work that they’ve put in; guys at the shop that I didn’t even know were working Saturdays and late nights all for the benefit of me to come down here and jump in this car and run fast. Touring the Hendrick engine shop, they were pumped-up for me to switch over into their horsepower. So this goes to a lot of people that work hard behind the scenes for me to come out here and drive. It’s a cool way to start Speedweeks."

Christopher Bell, in his first Daytona 500, sat second for a while before getting booted back by a gaggle of competitors, eventually ending up with a ninth-place qualifying slot.

Sunday's qualifying locks in only the top two positions for the Daytona 500, the rest of the starting grid determined by the results of Thursday's Duels qualifying races.

The top four qualifying cars were all propelled by engines from the Hendrick shops, with Alex Bowman qualifying second, the only other car assured of its starting position for the race next weekend. Third and fourth top speeds were set by Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson, the trio all Hendrick teammates.

The first non-Camaro in the final time trials results was the Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin, just 0.479 second behind Stenhouse's time.

Time Trials results, 2020 Daytona 500
Driver, Car, Time, Speed, Gap
1) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 46.253, 194.582, -0.565
2) Alex Bowman, No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet, 46.305, 194.363, 0.052
3) Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 46.319, 194.305, 0.066
4) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 46.419, 193.886, 0.166
5) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 46.528, 193.432, -0.275
6) Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Toyota, 46.662, 192.876, -0.409
7) Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 46.732, 192.588, -0.479
8) William Byron, No. 24 Axalta 'Color of the Year' Chevrolet, 46.767, 192.443, -0.514
9) Christopher Bell, No. 95 Procore Toyota, 46.818, 192.234, 
10) Erik Jones, No. 20 DEWALT Toyota, 46.859, 192.066, -0.606
11) Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 46.867, 192.033, -0.614
12) Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Light #PIT 4BUSCH Ford, 46.869, 192.025, -0.616
13) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Rush/Mobil 1 Ford, 46.906, 191.873, -0.653
14) Cole Custer, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 46.921, 191.812, -0.668
15) Ryan Newman, No. 6 Koch Industries Ford, 46.950, 191.693, -0.697
16) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, 46.952, 191.685, -0.699
17) Ryan Preece, No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet, 46.969, 191.616, -0.716
18) Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet, 46.983, 191.559, -0.730
19) Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 46.984, 191.555, -0.731
20) Kyle Larson, No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 46.987, 191.542, -0.734
21) Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pros Shops Toyota, 46.994, 191.514, -0.741
22) Kurt Busch, No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 47.052, 191.278, -0.799
23) Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford, 47.054, 191.270, -0.801
24) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 47.070, 191.205, -0.817
25) John Hunter Nemechek, No. 38 Citgard Ford, 47.076, 191.180, -0.823
26) David Ragan, No. 36 Select Blinds Ford, 47.151, 190.876, -0.898
27) Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford, 47.205, 190.658, -0.952
28) Ross Chastain(i), No. 77 AdventHealth Chevrolet, 47.262, 190.428, -1.009
29) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker OffRoad Chevrolet, 47.273, 190.384, -1.020
30) Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 47.353, 190.062, -1.100
31) *Justin Haley(i), No. 16 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet, 47.364, 190.018, -1.111
32) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 United States Air Force Chevrolet, 47.491, 189.510, -1.238
33) *Brendan Gaughan(i), No. 62 Beard Motorsports/South Point Chevrolet, 47.633, 188.945, -1.380
34) *Reed Sorenson, No. 27 Chevrolet, 48.037, 187.356, -1.784
35) *Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 RoofClaim.com/VSI Racing Ford, 48.225, 186.625, -1.972
36) *Daniel Suarez, No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota, 48.523, 185.479, -2.270
37) Corey LaJoie, No. 32 RagingBull.com Ford, 48.605, 185.166, -2.352
38) Quin Houff, No. 00 Jacob Construction Chevrolet, 48.943, 183.887, -2.690
39) *JJ Yeley, No. 54 Ford, 49.102, 183.292, -2.849
40) Brennan Poole, No. 15 SpartanGo Chevrolet, 49.510, 181.781, -3.257

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 2nd: "Hats off to the JTG guys. Hendrick Engines one-two-three-four, so that’s pretty cool. We have a great Valvoline Camaro. I’m really happy with how the new Camaro has been so far. The front row is still really good. Obviously, we wanted the pole; but just barely missed it there. So, hat’s off to the Hendrick engine shop, the fab shop, and all the guys that work on these things all winter. This is really all about them. As a driver, you can really only screw it up. So, you can’t make it really go any faster. So, I’m proud of all the guys and we’ve got the best-looking car here with Valvoline on board. It looks awesome, and hopefully we’ll be up front in the 500."

THAT REMINDS ME OF BUDDY BAKER, WHO WON THIS RACE. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN IT FROM THE FRONT? "Yeah, that would be amazing. We’ve been on the front row the last two years. We’ve had good runs. Just haven’t really finished them off. So, hopefully we can do that this year. This place is so cool. You walk in and man, it’s the Daytona 500. There’s nothing like it. There’s so many people and it’s such a big event. To lead laps here is really neat. But if we were to be able to go win, that would be amazing."

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 3rd: "It was a solid lap, just needed a little bit more obviously. It’s so early in the week and just trying to keep the car in one piece. It’s great for Team Chevy to be one, two, three, four. We’ll try to be good next Sunday, that’s really all that matters."

HOW DID YOUR CAR FEEL AND HOW WILL IT RACE? YOU JUST MISSED THE FRONT ROW "Yeah, I think our NAPA Camaro will be good next Sunday, I hope. It’s always good to kind of get back in the groove of things and I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s Clash. And then, just trying to keep our cars in one piece I think is the main goal this week. I haven’t done a very good job of that over the course of my career down here. So, we’ll try to do better and hopefully have a good showing today and most importantly, next Sunday."

SO MUCH HISTORY HERE FOR YOU. HOW MUCH DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAYTONA 500? "Yeah, it was just good to get back to the track. We race so many times throughout the year and once you get a little bit of time off, for me, I feel like when it gets to be February or the middle of February, I’m ready to go back. And that’s been the case this year. So, I’m just excited to be here and get back in the groove. This is the first of a lot of racing ahead, so we’re just excited to get back in the groove, number one, and hopefully put on a good show for all the people that’ll be here next week."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 4th: AS YOU’RE ON YOUR FINAL FULL-TIME SEASON, DO YOU SOAK IT IN OR DO YOU JUST GO ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’? "It’s a balancing act. I want to soak it in, but I’m just wired to race. I want to win races and I want to be a championship threat. So, I’ll try to figure that out as the year goes on. Things are pretty casual this first week here in Daytona. As we get to the 500 and the races that follow, I’m sure I’ll gravitate more toward the work-side and the performance-side of life. But, I’m just thankful to be here. It’s been a heck of a run and I’m very excited to start my final full-time season. I’m very excited to have Ally on board and support from Chevrolet. And honestly, the support from everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. There’s a really cool energy in our shop and I’m thankful I’ve had all these years with Rick and to be a part of this great family."

A LOT OF FANS LINED THE STREETS FOR THE MARATHON TODAY "Yeah, I ran the Daytona Half Marathon this morning which is always a great event. And it’s certainly one to weigh on my mind as I’m eating all the Christmas candy and holiday things that we do, knowing that there’s a half-marathon out there for me and keeps me a little more honest and in shape. So, it was a fun day today. I did great in that race and qualified fourth, and I’m looking forward to the Clash later today."

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA ‘COLOR OF THE YEAR’ CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 8th: WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW CAMARO? "It’s really hard to tell. I got out there with Jimmie (Johnson) a couple of laps, that’s really all we did. We tried to push each other. It didn’t seem like it was all that stable, but we just have to see. I think the Clash will be a better indication. It’s really hard to tell, so far, until we get out to race."

BEYOND THIS, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO WORK WITH?

"Yeah, definitely. I think that’s the goal of this car is to make it better on the intermediate tracks. I think it’s definitely going to be quite a bit better at those places. Here, it kind of is what it is. We would like to have a little more speed than we showed. But I think on the other tracks, I think we’ll be just fine."

ARE YOU SURPRISED WITH YOUR QUALIFYING RUN?

"Yeah, especially for as much as we focus on it, that’s not very good. We worked hard on it, but I don’t really know. Everything felt fine, so I don’t really know. We’ll see what happens."

RYAN PREECE, NO. 37 COTTONELLE CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 17th: THOUGHTS ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN. "I feel good. That’s one of our best qualifying positions, for sure, at a superspeedway. I’m extremely happy for Kroger and everyone to get the pole here at the Daytona 500. That’s really cool."

"We didn’t draft much in practice, but I definitely feel like Chevy did an awesome job with the new body we have this year. Hopefully this can be a consistent thing."

TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 CATERPILLAR CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 18th: THOUGHTS ON HIS RUN. "Not too bad. We weren’t exactly where we wanted to be for qualifying pace trying to get the front row. We’ve got some work to do. We just missed it a little bit, but we knew we were going to be a little lucky to get the front row coming into this. We’ll work on it and see how the Duels go. I feel like the car didn’t drive too bad being where it was and, obviously, we’ve got to be locked into that for the Duels. Hopefully, we can race pretty good and try to get a few spots back that way in the Duels."

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 20th: THOUGHTS ON HIS RUN. "It was pretty average. Honestly, when I come here, I don’t really expect to get the pole. We never qualify well at superspeedways. I think we focus more on having good race cars. Hopefully, we’ll learn a lot today in the Clash, and be good for the Duels and the 500."

YOU WON THE LAST NON-POINTS RACE LIKE THIS. WHAT DO YOU THINK GOING INTO THE CLASH? "It’s just wild. There aren’t a lot of cars and it’s a short race. It’s a race where most of us have been sitting since Homestead. Everyone’s just excited to get out there, race and learn a lot. Try to get familiar with things with new people, either on pit boxes, pit crews, spotters, things like that."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 22nd: "You can feel it, it’s Daytona 500 qualifying. Here we go.
"We’ll see how things stack up. With new Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Hendrick guys have shown the single car speed. We have to figure out the balance on what we’ll see in the race conditions. I’m excited about the Clash later on to get that run in with the guys, to get pit stops done and just get back into sequence. We’re a team that can win races, we can make a run at the championship and it starts on a day like today."

TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 30th: "Our Camaro performed well. We didn’t really come out here prepared to qualify really well, we really kind of focused on making sure that the car races well so we can get a good opportunity to possibly win the Duels and run well in the 500. I’m loving getting used to and feeling the new ZL1 1LE. I feel like the body is not only going to benefit us here, but all throughout the year. I’m already feeling things that I like for other tracks in the future, so I’m excited for everything that’s to come."

BUBBA WALLACE, NO. 43 UNITED STATES AIR FORCE CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 32nd: "Every time we come down to Daytona or Talladega, especially for the 500, we always have a really good car in race trim. We’re not very good by ourselves, slow and a little draggy. But we always seem to shoot right to the front. We’ll have to manage our race, make it to the third stage. Re-watching last year’s race, we got taken out before the first stage ended. So, we just have to position ourselves and put ourselves in the best spot possible."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE THE FAN SUPPORT THAT YOU DO? "It means a lot. I just try to continue to be myself 100 percent, on and off the race track. I think that latches on to the fans and carries me a little bit farther than others. I’ve over-stepped the line a couple of times, but we’re all human. It’s all part of it. It’s a fun journey. I appreciate them sticking around and being a part of it."

BRENDAN GAUGHAN, NO. 62 BEARD MOTORSPORTS/SOUTH POINT CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Qualified 33rd: "Our Chevy, right now, is still locked in. We’ve got one more car that we’re worried about, but I think if we go off of yesterday, we should be OK. It will be awesome if we can lock it in for the Daytona 500 and not have to worry about the Duels. Then, I can relax and have a good time the next couple of days, and come back and get ready for the 500."

-XXX-

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2020, Issue 2, Posted 4:01 PM, 02.09.2020