Alex Bowman secured the pole for Sunday's Great American Race for his first race in the No. 48 car that was vacated by the retired Jimmie Johnson after the 2020 season.
Although the Hendrick cars have been fast in qualifying, those numbers have not translated to results in the season's first points race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the last Hendrick driver to win the Daytona 500 in 2014.
Joe Gibbs Racing has been the victorious team in three of the past five years thanks to Denny Hamlin, who is the favorite to win at Daytona once again.
Hamlin and Chase Elliott are the only two drivers with odds beneath +1000 to cross the finish line first Sunday.
Daytona 500 Qualifying Results
1. Alex Bowman (47.056 seconds; 191.261 miles per hour)
2. William Byron (47.314 seconds; 190.219 mph)
3. Aric Almirola (47.324 seconds; 190.178 mph)
4. Bubba Wallace (47.474 seconds; 189.577 mph)
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (47.477 seconds; 189.565 mph)
Full results can be found on NASCAR.com.
Daytona 500 Odds
Denny Hamlin +700 (bet $100 to win $7000)
Chase Elliott +900
Ryan Blaney +1100
Brad Keselowski +1100
Joey Logano +1100
Kevin Harvick +1300
Kyle Busch +1400
William Byron +1600
Kyle Larson +1600
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
A high starting position typically does not guarantee success at the Daytona 500.
Kurt Busch was the only racer in the past five years to win from a top-10 starting position. Hamlin won the February NASCAR opener from the back of the grid in 2020. He had to start there because of a failed inspection prior to the race.
The unpredictability of superspeedways and the varying strategies over 500 miles make it easy for drivers to move up the pack throughout the race.
Bowman and William Byron will have the benefit of clean air to start the race, and the two should draft together to gain a decent advantage. If they can link up with Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, the Hendrick train could dictate the first stage.
The rest of the starting order will be determined by Thursday's duels, but no matter where the Joe Gibbs Racing cars land, expect them to be in the mix for the lead at some point. Hamlin carries the most Daytona 500 victories in the field with three, and Kyle Busch proved during Tuesday's clash race on the Daytona road course that he can take advantage of opportunities when presented to him.
Hamlin, Busch and new teammate Christopher Bell placed in the top 20 in qualifying, which was not a great night for the Toyota cars.
Chevrolet was the fastest of the three manufacturers, with six cars landing in the top 10, including Bowman and Byron. If the Chevrolets maintain that speed advantage Sunday, Elliott could be the favorite to capture the checkered flag.
The NASCAR Cup Series champion was in contention for the Clash victory on the course that splits between the oval and interior parts of Daytona International Speedway.
Elliott took second at Daytona in the 2020 summer race, and he followed that up with a fifth-placed spot at Talladega in the final superspeedway race of the season.
If he finds that form at Daytona again Sunday, Elliott could be Hendrick's best candidate to end the Daytona 500 victory drought. A dark-horse winner is always possible with the amount of wrecks and cautions that affect most Daytona 500s. But the established drivers, led by Hamlin, have achieved most of the success in recent years.
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