Alex Bowman captures pole for NASCAR season-opening Daytona 500

Danica Patrick speaks with the media during a news conference before Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead Fla. Friday Nov. 17 2017. Patrick will end her full-time racing career after running in this year's Dayt

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Alex Bowman captured the pole for next Sunday's Daytona 500 with a speed of 195.644 miles per hour in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, which was the former auto of the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. 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.

But the No. 7 Chevrolet is here only for the Great American Race, a fact that Patrick recently was lamenting.

Earnhardt was quite impressed by Bowman and the No. 88 team's performance. "We knew we were going for the pole". "The reality of it will probably be a little bit more sad than what I'm making it out to be right now, but I'm ready".

Seeing Byron's potential, team owner Rick Hendrick signed him in 2016 to have him drive one of the Xfinity cars he co-owns with Earnhardt and Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller. "I never would have thought it would happen after the path my career took". Her on-track struggles throughout the last two seasons - notching one top-10 finish in 72 races, compared with five between 2014 and 2015 - overshadowed one of the best streaks of her career in July with four-consecutive top-15 finishes. We've already changed some things that we do here with lineups, how we roll the cars on and how we stage the cars, where we stage the crew members.

The best hope for the other drivers racing for a cup championship come November is that, like in 2017, Kyle Larson gets bounced from the playoffs before the final race and isn't racing for it all at Homestead. The machine says where you are, and everybody has got to be there.

"It's worked very well, but we learn every day, nearly with every vehicle", Probst said.

Hendrick put Chevrolet on the pole for the sixth straight year. You kind of got what you got.

Patrick was weepy when she announced her retirement from racing at the end of last season, but didn't feel as sentimental on Saturday ahead of practice at Daytona International Speedway. With the unpredictability of plate races, it is hard to guess who will win the 500, but several drivers have made names for themselves as "plate ringers" with plenty of success at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski. "But when I think next Sunday comes, I'm sure I'll be a lot more retrospective or introspective and emotional about the finality of it". Truex won eight races in the 2017 season, tops of any driver in the series.

Danica Patrick is saving her tears this time around.

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