NASCAR: Alex Bowman Daytona 500 record is even more impressive for one reason

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Alex Bowman now owns the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most front row starts in Daytona 500 history, and he has done it without skipping a beat.

The day Alex Bowman qualifies third for the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 will be the day he records his worst ever start for the Great American Race as a Hendrick Motorsports driver.

Fresh of a multi-year contract extension that ties him to the Ally Financial-sponsored No. 48 Chevrolet through the 2026 season, Bowman dominated Daytona 500 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday evening.

He advanced to the top 10 shootout as the fastest driver in round one and took the pole position in the shootout ahead of teammate Kyle Larson, who clinched a front row starting spot himself for the second straight year.

The pole position is Alex Bowman’s third for the Daytona 500, and it marks his sixth front row start, the most in the history of the famed NASCAR race.

What makes that record even more impressive? The fact that he qualified on the front row in six straight years.

The all-time record for most front row Daytona 500 starts had been five, a record shared by Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, and Jeff Gordon.

Petty made 33 qualifying attempts and 32 starts. Baker made 29 qualifying attempts and 28 starts. Yarborough made 27 qualifying attempts and 26 starts. Elliott made 34 qualifying attempts and 29 starts. Gordon made 23 qualifying attempts and 23 starts.

Bowman has recorded six front row starts in his last six Daytona 500 qualifying attempts.

Prior to this run with Rick Hendrick’s team, he had only made two Daytona 500 qualifying attempts. He qualified in 29th place for BK Racing in 2014 and failed to qualify for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2015. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 and has never qualified lower than second.

He took the pole position in 2018 and qualified in second in 2019 and 2020 as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet. He took the pole position in 2021 and 2023 and qualified in second in 2022 as the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Baker, Yarborough, and Elliott all still hold the record for most Daytona 500 pole positions with four. And of course, all five of the five-time front row starters have won the race. Bowman hasn’t yet done so. In fact, he hasn’t yet finished in the top 10.

His best Daytona 500 finish of 11th place came in 2019, though he did place seventh in the summer race at Daytona International Speedway in both 2020 and 2021.

As for Bowman’s streak of front row starts, that has been a record for four years now. He tied the record of three in 2020, broke the record with his fourth in 2021, extended the record with his fifth in 2022, and extended it again with his sixth in 2023.

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