Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fl — February 16, 2023
Last night at Daytona, the Cup Series cars made their first appearance on the Speedway. Pole position qualifying kicked off Speedweeks with 42 cars looking for 40 starting spots in the 65th Daytona 500.
When all the laps were completed, Hendrick Motorsports locked down the front row with Alex Bowman(48) sitting on the pole and Kyle Larson(5) set to start next to him. Bowman’s speed of 181.686 mph was almost 2/10th of a second faster (49.536 to 49.708) than Larson’s 181.057 lap around the 2.5-mile track.
The remaining 38 starting positions will be determined in tonight’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels qualifying races, starting at 7 pm. There are 36 NASCAR “charter” holding entries that are guaranteed a starting position. Leaving six teams to battle for the remaining four spots on the grid.
Earning a Starting Spot
Jimmie Johnson(84), the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion, locked up one of those spots with the 23rd faster speed of 179.276. Two positions back, Travis Pastrana(67) locked up the second open position with a speed of 179.254.
Pastrana, the former motocross, supercross, and rally champion, revealed an interesting caveat to his agreement to drive for Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23XI racing. If he wrecks the car, he pays for the repairs. Given Daytona’s reputation for chewing up race cars, that could be an expensive outcome.
The four other non-charter drivers hoping to race their way in during the Duels are Conor Daly(50), Austin Hill(62), Chandler Smith(13), and Zane Smith(36), the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion.
For additional pictures from pole position qualifying, visit the author’s Facebook page.
Qualifying Races Lineups
Bluegreen Vacation Duel No. 1
|Starting Position||Car No.||Driver|
|18||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
Bluegreen Vacation Duel No. 2
|Starting position||Car No.||Driver|
|11||19||Martin Truex Jr.|