Daytona 500 2018 Qualifying Results: Alex Bowman Takes Pole for NASCAR Opener

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

Alex Bowman is off to a hot start in the lead-up to the 2018 NASCAR season after being tasked with following in the footsteps of Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's 15-time Most Popular Driver and a seven-time Daytona pole victor. Stenhouse is the most recent victor at Daytona when he won his second Super Speedway race in a row during the 2017 Coke Zero 400.

On Sunday, Snapchat will cover the DAYTONA 500 with its Our Story feature to give millions of users around the world an inside look at race day from Daytona International Speedway. Bowman filled in for Earnhardt during the 2016 season as an interim replacement when Junior went down with a season-ending concussion. Unlike in past years, the 2018 Clash will be a Sunday afternoon race and take place after Daytona 500 qualifying rather than as a Saturday night event, a change that was spurred by rain postponing the 2017 Clash from Saturday night to Sunday morning. Hamlin would finish second to Alex Bowman in both rounds of knockout qualifying.

"It was really just to do Daytona and Indy and The Clash wasn't a priority", she said.

"It's a dream come true just to drive for Hendrick Motorsports", Bowman said.

She's not nervous, anxious or scared about the Daytona 500 and is certainly not dreading her last laps as a NASCAR driver. It very well could have an impact on the race as nearly everyone in the field is now accustomed to running the race without many handling issues.

That run hasn't translated to victories in "The Great American Race". "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".

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"I actually felt like Homestead was that (last race)", Patrick said, via ESPN. Although qualifying utilizes the same three-round knockout format found at other tracks, unless a driver qualifies on the front row, their starting position is not guaranteed.

The story gets a heck of a lot better if she performs well.

"It's worked very well, but we learn every day, nearly with every auto", Probst said. "I think the hard part was getting to that point". "A couple of days ago I was thinking to myself that we should have run the backup vehicle in the (exhibition)". You can't really hide at these kinds of racetracks.

Running her final Cup race, Danica Patrick was 16th fastest.

A week before her final NASCAR race, she isn't sure what her emotions will be when the green flag drops for the 500.

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