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Alex Bowman enjoyed a great debut in the No. 88 car that once belonged to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman topped Sunday’s qualifying run for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of 195.644 mph, thus putting him on the pole for first race of the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season.
NASCAR shared a replay of Bowman’s pole-winning run:
Saved the best for last.
@AlexBowman88 is your 2018 #DAYTONA500 pole winner! https://t.co/Bqq3RbKlLz
Earnhardt congratulated Bowman on the achievement:
Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. @DaleJr
Awesome! Great job @AlexBowman88 @TeamHendrick on the #Daytona500 pole! @Ives_Greg and the gang built a fast one.
“I think it’s still a little surreal,” Bowman said of replacing Earnhardt, per NASCAR’s official site. “It’s a dream come true to get to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. I never thought it would have happened after the path my career took. I’m so thankful to be able to do this. I’m very blessed to be able to call driving a race car my job, and now to get to drive what I think is the best race car in the business.”
Bowman’s pole win continues Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance in that area at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Gordon was the pole-sitter in 2015 before Chase Elliott went back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.
That run hasn’t translated to victories in “The Great American Race.” Earnhardt is the last Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the Daytona 500 when he claimed the checkered flag in 2014.
Denny Hamlin will join Bowman on the front row after reaching 195.092 mph during his qualifying run.
Thursday’s Can-Am Duels will determine most of the starting order for the 2018 Daytona 500. Drivers in the first Duel will fill out the inside rows, while those in the second Duel will occupy the outside rows. The running order will be based on the leaderboards from the two Duels.