Alex Bowman wins pole for Daytona 500

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/nationwide/drivers/3188" data-ylk="slk:Alex Bowman">Alex Bowman</a> prepares to go out on the track during a NASCAR auto racing practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Alex Bowman prepares to go out on the track during a NASCAR auto racing practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Alex Bowman’s first race as the full-time driver of the No. 88 will come from the pole position.

Bowman, the driver tabbed to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., will start first for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500. Bowman posted the fastest lap in the first round of qualifying and then edged out Denny Hamlin for the top spot with his run in the second round.

Hamlin will start on the outside of the front row. Starting spots Nos. 3-40 will be determined by the finishing order of Thursday’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races.

Bowman filled in for Earnhardt Jr. when NASCAR’s most popular driver was sidelined for the second-half of the season because of a concussion in 2016. Bowman elected to stay with Hendrick Motorsports as a test and simulation driver in 2017 instead of drive for another team and was rewarded with the job of being Earnhardt Jr.’s replacement in 2018.

It’s the second-straight year the No. 88 car has started on the front row. Junior started last year’s 500 alongside fellow Hendrick driver Chase Elliott, who won the pole in each of the previous two seasons. Jeff Gordon started first in 2015, meaning Hendrick Motorsports has won the pole four-straight times at Daytona.

Here’s how the field qualified on Sunday. The drivers in odd positions will race in the first Duel race (and start in order of how they qualified) while the drivers in even positions will race in the second Duel.

1. Alex Bowman
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kyle Busch
5. William Byron
6. Erik Jones
7. Daniel Suarez
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Chase Elliott
11. Joey Logano
12. Paul Menard
13. Aric Almirola
14. Austin Dillon
15. Ryan Blaney
16. Clint Bowyer
17. Kurt Busch
18. Kasey Kahne
19. Brad Keselowski
20. Trevor Bayne
21. Ryan Newman
22. Kyle Larson
23. Jamie McMurray
24. Michael McDowell
25. Bubba Wallace
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Ty Dillon
28. Danica Patrick
29. Chris Buescher
30. AJ Allmendinger
31. Brendan Gaughan
32. Justin Marks
33. Matt DiBenedetto
34. DJ Kennington
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
36. David Gilliland
37. Mark Thompson
38. Corey LaJoie
39. Gray Gaulding
40. David Ragan

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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