Ricky Stenhouse Jr. set the pace at Daytona International Speedway Sunday afternoon, earning the pole for the Daytona 500 with a 194.582 mph lap in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet.
It was the third pole for the team, their first at an oval track and an auspicious beginning for Stenhouse who was released from Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the 2019 season.
When asked if he felt he had something to prove, Stenhouse said, “I think there’s a handful of us that feel like we have something to prove. And two of those are in my corner with me at JTG Daugherty Racing with Mike (Kelley) and Brian (Pattie). I know that I feel like I can still get the job done behind the wheel and win races like we did in the Xfinity Series, and I know Brian believes in what the JTG Daugherty ‑‑ their resources that they have at the race shop, the engines, the Chevys.”
On the significance of winning the pole, he continued, “Yeah, it’s huge. 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.”
Alex Bowman will start in second after posting a lap at 194.363 mph (46.305 seconds).
“I think we’re going to have a great race car in the race,” Bowman said. “Our Clash car has been driving really well, as well. Just excited to be back here with the new Camaro body. I think that’s going to be really great for us, and the Valvoline car looks really cool, so it’s been a good weekend so far.”
Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Erik Jones rounded out the top 10 in qualifying.
Only the first two starting positions were set in qualifying with the remainder of the field competing for the remaining spots next Thursday in the Bluegreen Vacation Duels.
There are two separate Duel races consisting of 60 laps each. The race lineup for each Duel was determined by the qualifying speeds set today. Drivers who qualified in odd number positions will compete in Duel 1 while those in even-finishing positions will race in Duel 2.
The winner of Duel 1 will begin the Daytona 500 in third place and the second-place finisher will start in fifth continuing this pattern to set the inside row. The winner of Duel 2 will start in fourth place with the second-place finisher in sixth continuing on to set the outside row.
The 62nd annual Daytona 500 will air Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.