Hendrick Motorsports Dominates Daytona 500 Qualifying, Larson on the Pole

David Tucker/News-Journal

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – RIS – It certainly was not a surprise.  Hendrick Motorsports led qualifying as usual with a surprise visit from Aric Almirola.  Hendrick Motorsports has won seven of the last eight Daytona 500 poles. This is Larson’s first Daytona 500. He had never started better than eight for this race. Bowman qualified for the event’s front row for a record fifth consecutive year.

Larson qualified at 181.159 mph to become the first reigning Cup champion to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson did it in 2008. Bowman qualified at 181.046 mph.

Larson and Bowman were the only cars to set their starting spot for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The rest of the field will have their starting position set by Thursday’s qualifying races.

Noah Gragson and Jacques Villeneuve, who won the 1995 Indy 500 and the 1997 Formula One championship, secured spots in the Daytona 500. There are six non-chartered cars vying for four spots in the Daytona 500. The two fastest non-chartered cars in qualifying guaranteed themselves a starting spot in the Daytona 500. Gragson, who is running full-time in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports this season, made the race after failing to qualify for last year’s 500.

“Just to make the show is incredible because we’re a small team,” said Villeneuve, who is driving for Team Hezeberg.

The other four non-chartered drivers – Kaz Grala, Greg Biffle, JJ Yeley and Timmy Hill – must race their way in via their qualifying race Thursday.

Almirola’s speed was somewhat of a surprise.  His teammates did not qualify very well and he held the pole for a brief time before the HMS cars rolled onto the track.  It was close, but on this day there was no question the HMS cars were very fast and to be watched in the Great American Race in three days.

This is the 15th 500 pole for Hendrick Motorsports, and seventh since 2015. William Byron, another Hendrick driver, was third-fastest and will start on the front row in his Thursday Duel race. Aric Almirola was the fastest Ford, qualifying fourth. Chase Elliott's No. 9 Hendrick Chevy was fifth.

"It's really neat," Larson said. "A huge thank you to the engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports. Hopefully this is the beginning of a really good weekend."

The only non-Hendrick driver to lead the field to green in the past seven years was Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who put his JTG Daugherty Chevy on the pole in 2019 using a — you guessed it — Hendrick engine. 

While Bowman just missed another 500 pole, he'll still be starting on the front row for the fifth straight year.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "This says so much about Hendrick Motorsports."

Martin Truex Jr. was sixth quickest and the fastest Toyota, followed by Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and rookie Harrison Burton in the Wood Brothers Ford.

Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney were 12th and 13th, while Kyle Busch made good on his earlier prediction and qualified 18th.

 "(We'll be) 18th if we're lucky," Busch said during his Daytona 500 media day appearance Wednesday afternoon. "We try, but we're gonna be mid-pack. You'll see a Hendrick car or two on the front row. Same old stuff. A new car, but the same old stuff when you come down to it.”

Qualifying races to determine the rest of the starting races will be held at 7 pm on Thursday and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.  Radio coverage will be the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM.

Time Trial Results: 64th Annual DAYTONA 500, Daytona International Speedway

Round 1
Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, -Fastest, -Next
1) William Byron Jr., No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet, 49.765 sec, 180.850 mph, 0.000, 0.000
2) Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 49.789, 180.763, 0.024, 0.024
3) Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 49.870, 180.469, 0.105, 0.081
4) Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 49.927, 180.263, 0.162, 0.057
5) Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 49.946, 180.195, 0.181, 0.019
6) Ross Chastain, No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet, 50.051, 179.817, 0.286, 0.105
7) Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 50.078, 179.720, 0.313, 0.027
8) Harrison Burton #, No. 21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford, 50.139, 179.501, 0.374, 0.061
9) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 50.152, 179.454, 0.387, 0.013
10) Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet, 50.157, 179.437, 0.392, 0.005
11) Daniel Hemric(i), No. 16 Heritage Pool Supply Group Chevrolet, 50.159, 179.429, 0.394, 0.002
12) Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 50.160, 179.426, 0.395, 0.001
13) Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford, 50.162, 179.419, 0.397, 0.002
14) Christopher Bell, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, 50.187, 179.329, 0.422, 0.025
15) Tyler Reddick, No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet, 50.191, 179.315, 0.426, 0.004
16) Bubba Wallace, No. 23 McDonald's Toyota, 50.196, 179.297, 0.431, 0.005
17) Brad Keselowski, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford, 50.196, 179.297, 0.431, 0.000
18) Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Toyota, 50.202, 179.276, 0.437, 0.006
19) Chase Briscoe, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford, 50.203, 179.272, 0.438, 0.001
20) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet, 50.204, 179.269, 0.439, 0.001
21) Austin Cindric #, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford, 50.205, 179.265, 0.440, 0.001
22) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 50.209, 179.251, 0.444, 0.004
23) Erik Jones, No. 43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, 50.218, 179.219, 0.453, 0.009
24) Ty Dillon, No. 42 Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet, 50.225, 179.194, 0.460, 0.007
25) Kurt Busch, No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota, 50.285, 178.980, 0.520, 0.060
26) Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Light #BUSCHRACETEAM Ford, 50.312, 178.884, 0.547, 0.027
27) Justin Haley, No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 50.315, 178.873, 0.550, 0.003
28) Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 50.378, 178.649, 0.613, 0.063
29) Cole Custer, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford, 50.539, 178.080, 0.774, 0.161
30) Corey LaJoie, No. 7 Built.com Chevrolet, 50.550, 178.042, 0.785, 0.011
31) Todd Gilliland #, No. 38 First Phase Credit Card Ford, 50.559, 178.010, 0.794, 0.009
32) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger/Irish Spring Chevrolet, 50.639, 177.729, 0.874, 0.080
33) *Noah Gragson(i), No. 62 Beard Oil/South Point Chevrolet, 50.689, 177.553, 0.924, 0.050
34) Landon Cassill(i), No. 77 FOX Nation Chevrolet, 50.884, 176.873, 1.119, 0.195
35) Cody Ware, No. 51 Nurtec ODT Ford, 50.928, 176.720, 1.163, 0.044
36) *Jacques Villeneuve, No. 27 Hezeberg Engineering Systems Ford, 51.010, 176.436, 1.245, 0.082
37) *Kaz Grala(i), No. 50 Pit Viper Sunglasses Chevrolet, 51.094, 176.146, 1.329, 0.084
38) *Greg Biffle(i), No. 44 Grambling State University Chevrolet, 51.100, 176.125, 1.335, 0.006
39) BJ McLeod, No. 78 NASCAR Ignition Ford, 51.153, 175.943, 1.388, 0.053
40) David Ragan, No. 15 Select Blinds Ford, 51.216, 175.726, 1.451, 0.063
41) *JJ Yeley(i), No. 55 Hex.com Ford, 52.005, 173.060, 2.240, 0.789
42) *Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 Bumper.com Ford, 52.263, 172.206, 2.498, 0.258
(*) Required to qualify on time, (OP) Top 30 in Owner Points, (PC) Past Champion, (i)Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Round 2
Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, -Fastest, -Next
1) Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, 49.680, 181.159, 0.000, 0.000
2) Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 49.711, 181.046, 0.031, 0.031
3) William Byron Jr., No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet, 49.765, 180.850, 0.085, 0.054
4) Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 49.854, 180.527, 0.174, 0.089
5) Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 49.913, 180.314, 0.233, 0.059
6) Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 49.989, 180.040, 0.309, 0.076
7) Ross Chastain, No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet, 50.043, 179.845, 0.363, 0.054
8) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 50.077, 179.723, 0.397, 0.034
9) Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet, 50.106, 179.619, 0.426, 0.029
10) Harrison Burton #, No. 21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford, 50.137, 179.508, 0.457, 0.031
(*) Required to qualify on time, (OP) Top 30 in Owner Points, (PC) Past Champion, (i)Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Track Qualifying Record: Bill Elliott - 02/15/87 - 42.783 sec, 210.364 mph

Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2022, Issue 2, Posted 10:33 PM, 02.16.2022