TALLADEGA, Ala – Hendrick Motorsports started the superspeedway season off with a 1-2-3-4 qualifying effort for the Daytona 500. While the starting spots would be earned by the finishing order in the Duels, HMS showed their superspeedway strength that day in February.
In the final superspeedway race of the season, they finished where they started the year off with. All four Hendrick cars will start in the top four in Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway.
In fact, the way the finished in April’s Geico 500 at Talladega is the way that they’ll lineup in terms of the front row for Sunday’s second race of the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Chase Elliott will lead them to green as the Georgia native earned his eighth career pole in circling the 2.66-mile Alabama oval with a speed of 192.707 mph in his No. 9 Chevrolet.
Elliott, won the spring race at Talladega and now has seven top eight starting spots in his eight Talladega tries. Coincidentally enough, the only time he didn’t start in the top 4 Rows at Talladega, he ended up winning from the 11th starting spot.
Five of his eight poles have come on superspeedways too with Elliott having four top eight starting spots over the last five weeks of the season.
Joining Elliott on the front row is his teammate Alex Bowman. He pushed Elliott to the win back in April and now joins him in earning the second starting spot for the second time in the last three races. Bowman, qualified with a speed of 192.552 mph in his No. 88 Chevrolet.
William Byron (192.258 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (191.566 mph) will share Row 2 and start third and fourth respectively.
Byron, has three straight top six starting spots while Johnson hasn’t started worse than 11th in his last seven tries.
This is the second straight year that the Talladega playoff race saw teammates start 1-2-3-4. Stewart-Haas Racing did so last year.
Speaking of SHR, last year’s race winner for them in Aric Almirola (191.551 mph) rounded out the top five in qualifying in his No. 10 Ford. He started fourth last year and second back in the spring.
All three Penske cars will start sixth (Brad Keselowski), ninth (Ryan Blaney) and 10th (Joey Logano) to give seven of the top 10 starting spots belonging to HMS-Penske. But, throw in Clint Bowyer (8th) and nine of the 10 belong to HMS-Penske-SHR.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with Roush Fenway Racing in seventh is the only non driver from those teams to roll off in the top 10th.
The top Toyota is Erik Jones in 11th. Martin Truex Jr. will start 18th while Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will roll 26th and 40th respectively.
1000Bulbs.com 500 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman
Row 2: William Byron, Jimmie Johnson
Row 3: Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski
Row 4: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer
Row 5: Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano
Row 6: Erik Jones, Kyle Larson
Row 7: Ryan Newman, Paul Menard
Row 8: Kevin Harvick, Matt Tifft R
Row 9: David Ragan, Martin Truex Jr.
Row 10: Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon
Row 11: Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell
Row 12: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch
Row 13: Landon Cassill, Kyle Busch
Row 14: Darrell Wallace Jr., Brendan Gaughan
Row 15: Daniel Hemric R, Ryan Preece R
Row 16: Matt DiBenedetto, Parker Kligerman
Row 17: Corey LaJoie, Ross Chastain
Row 18: Blake Jones, Joey Gase
Row 19: Austin Theriault, Reed Sorenson
Row 20: Spencer Boyd, Denny Halin