Kyle Larson Earns Daytona 500 Pole

New car, same result as Hendrick Motorsports dominated time trials at Daytona.

Share

Top
hero image for Kyle Larson Earns Daytona 500 Pole

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson has started 2022 off the way he ended 2021 – out front. The 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver won the pole position for Sunday’s Daytona 500 season-opener with a lap of 181.159 mph in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Wednesday night at Daytona International Speedway.

And for a record fifth consecutive year, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman has also earned a front-row starting position in the Daytona 500. He’ll start the No. 48 Chevrolet second.

All four of the Hendrick Motorsports cars advanced to the final round with 10 drivers and ultimately were among the five fastest qualifiers. Only the front row was set Wednesday night with the remaining Daytona 500 field finalized in Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150 qualifying races (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“It’s unbelievable,” Bowman said of the record. “It just says so much about Hendrick Motorsports and these guys. It’s cool to have the record but I feel like Greg Ives and the race team should get the credit. The driver doesn’t do much.”

“Hopefully we can figure out how to win it,” Bowman added with a smile.

This is the seventh Daytona 500 pole position in eight years for the team. And it’s Larson’s career-best starting position.

“It’s really neat,” Larson said. “I mean anytime you are really proud of your team to get a pole here ‘cause this is the littlest it has to do with us drivers, qualifying at superspeedways.

“Everybody’s who’s had a part in touching these vehicles, whether it be on the computer, engineering or just hands-on. It’s really neat, just awesome the speed in our Hendricks.com Chevy. Hopefully this is the beginning of a really good season.

“Almost feels like my proudest pole,” he continued, “because you’re proud of everybody who had an impact in doing it.”

Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 Formula One world champion and 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner, qualified for his career first Daytona 500 Wednesday night by virtue of earning one of two “Open’ positions available in pole qualifying – recording the 36th fastest speed in the No. 27 Team Hezeberg Ford.

Noah Gragson, a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contender, also earned an automatic bid into the Daytona 500 with a 33rd best qualifying lap. Sunday will mark his NASCAR Cup Series debut.

Two other Open cars – representing teams without NASCAR Charters – will be able to make the 40-car grid based upon their finish in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150s, which set the final starting order of the Daytona 500 grid.

This will mark Villeneuve’s fifth career NASCAR Cup Series start and first ever in stock car racing’s crown jewel. The last time he raced in the series was 2013 when he recorded a 41st-place finish in Sonoma, Calif. His best previous series finish was 21st – at Talladega in his first career NASCAR Cup Series start.

“Just to make the show is incredible,” Villeneuve said, adding, “To be able to make such a big race at such a high level is amazing. When I’m in a race car I don’t realize I’m 50 years old, which is good. As long as it carries on like this, I can’t imagine myself stopping racing.”

Gragson’s showing in the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet was equally as dramatic. His team owner Linda Beard – along with her children – is fielding the family-owned team in honor of her late husband Mark. It is only planning on running the superspeedway races and Gragson’s work Wednesday marks the team’s fifth start in the Daytona 500.

“It’s really emotional being able to make the race after not making it last year,” Gragson said, adding, “Last year not making the race, makes this year that much more special. … I really hope to make the Beard family proud this weekend.”

Judging by the smile and emotion she showed on pit road following the qualifying session, Gragson indeed made her proud.

“People that don’t race have no idea how much this means. .. when you are a team like us, we love it,” Linda Beard said. “To do this means so much to us, not only emotionally but just the thrill of it.”

64TH DAYTONA 500
QUALIFYING RESULTS

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. William Byron
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Daniel Suarez
  10. Harrison Burton
  11. Daniel Hemric
  12. Joey Logano
  13. Ryan Blaney
  14. Christopher Bell
  15. Tyler Reddick
  16. Bubba Wallace
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. Kyle Busch
  19. Chase Briscoe
  20. Austin Dillon
  21. Austin Cindric
  22. Michael McDowell
  23. Erik Jones
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. Kurt Busch
  26. Kevin Harvick
  27. Justin Haley
  28. Chris Buescher
  29. Cole Custer
  30. Corey Lajoie
  31. Todd Gilliland
  32. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  33. Noah Gragson
  34. Landon Cassill
  35. Cody Ware
  36. Villeneuve
  37. Kaz Grala
  38. Greg Biffle
  39. B.J. McLeod
  40. David Ragan
  41. J.J. Yeley
  42. Timmy Hill

-Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service