Alex Bowman puts No. 88 on the pole at Daytona

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, pose for a photo after winning the pole award for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 11, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman put an old familiar car on the top of the board for the Daytona 500.

Bowman won the pole for "The Great American Race" in his debut as the official driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet. That was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car, and NASCAR's most popular driver won six races at Daytona International Speedway behind the wheel of that Hendrick Motorsports entry. Earnhardt has 17 career wins at Daytona and seven poles and is a two-time Daytona 500 winner.

But Earnhardt retired at the end of last season and the empty seat went to Bowman, who drove 10 races filling in for Earnhardt when Earnhardt was sidelined in 2016 with a concussion. Bowman will be racing in the Daytona 500 for just the second time in his career.

Denny Hamlin qualified second in a Toyota from Joe Gibbs Racing. Only the front row was locked in during Sunday's qualifying session.


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