RPW Exclusive: William Byron Wins Pole for Daytona 500; Chad Knaus Finds Success After Jimmie Johnson

Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – William Byron won the Pole for Next Sunday’s Daytona 500 in a dominant performance by Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday afternoon. The Hendrick contingent proved to have a potent combination of raw horsepower, aerodynamics and talent behind the wheel.

Byron, a second year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitor, has already proven himself to be a winner in both the Truck and Xfinity Series respectively. However his 2018 season was full of learning experiences. Experiences that would prepare him for the new guy.

Oddly, after 17 years of partnership with 7-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, we now have to refer to Chad Knaus as the “new guy” on the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet.

Knaus’s demeanor as Byron pulled onto pit road post-qualifying, didn’t show much surprise. It’s the same steely-eyed, poker faced Chad Knaus we’ve come to know over his tenure on the No. 48 team. A no compromises attitude that demands the very best out of all who touch anything on the race car.

Byron seemed to live up to that demand on Pole qualifying day, as his Hendrick counterparts Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman set a high bar taking the top three positions on the scoring pylon. Byron clocked in a full tenth of a second faster than teammate Alex Bowman to take the top starting position for this Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Elliott and Johnson filled out row two in third and fourth positions, however they will have to defend those starting positions in Thursday’s Gander RV Duels. With the unique Speedweeks qualifying format, only the first row is locked in after single car qualifying.

Sunday’s Daytona 500 takes the green flag at 2:30 pm Eastern.

Full qualifying results available at: https://www.nascar.com/results/race_center/2019/monster-energy-nascar-cup-series/daytona-500/stn/qualifying/