Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series - Speedweeks

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Alex Bowman kicked off Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday by winning the pole for this year's Daytona 500.

Bowman rotated with Jeff Gordon in 2016 when Earnhardt missed half the season due to concussions, but this will be his first season as a full-time driver at Hendrick.

Bowman, the driver tabbed to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Truex amassed 19 stage wins and 54 playoff points before rolling into last year's winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he won the race to capture the championship.

"We knew we were going for the pole, that's what we're here to do", Bowman told the AP. That's what we're here for.

"I can do it pretty much when I want", Byron said.

Alex Bowman enjoyed a great debut in the No. 88 vehicle that once belonged to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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Denny Hamlin will line up alongside Bowman after recording a speed of 195.092 miles per hour in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to nab the second starting spot for the "Great American Race". At upcoming races, however, the field strings out, making the new setup problematic as one or two cars would fit into the 4:3 frame at a given time with the standard TV camera angles developed years ago at each venue. Once you get over the fear that he'll tap the wall and realize that he is in absolute control of the 42 machine, you'll find it hard to fathom that he's ever lost there. Having won the pole in his first Daytona 500 tries in 2016 and 2017, Elliott advanced to the Round of 12 but wound up 10th. "I think the best thing for me to do is kind of do what I did here in the Xfinity vehicle and keep in mind what the Cup auto does differently, and hopefully combine all that together". "Just so thankful to be able to do this, I'm very blessed to be able to call driving a racecar my job and now I get to drive what I think is the best racecar in the business, it's a dream come true".

While she burst into tears seconds after sitting down in front of the microphone to share that news, she's had nearly three months to come to terms with it.

"I realistically set my expectations and would have been happy with 18th", Hamlin said.

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was third fastest, rookie William Byron was fifth and Elliott was 10th in Hendrick engines. This is Hendrick's fourth straight pole at the Daytona 500.

"Speed-wise we've been off a bit here", Truex said. The organization entered a handful of races toward the end of the 2017 season with Josh Berry and Matt Mills. "I don't know, new rules package and all, we're just trying to figure that out". "The speed is better than we expected".

But she's not. Just days before her last stock vehicle race, Patrick is at peace with leaving the track. She also reunited with longtime sponsor GoDaddy, which will back her in the Indy 500, too.