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Front-row status: Daytona 500 cars for Bowman, Byron get passing marks

After necessary fixing, the cars for Alex Bowman and William Byron were given positive reviews before the Daytona 500.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and William Byron, the top qualifiers for Sunday’s Daytona 500, found varying shares of trouble in Thursday’s Duel preliminaries. Despite virtually no practice time on a mostly rainy Saturday, their cars were given positive reviews on the eve of the Great American Race.

Bowman, the pole-starter, slowed with a vibration during Thursday’s opening 150-mile qualifying race. His crew went into diagnosis mode on the No. 48 Chevrolet, and according to a FOX Sports report, Greg Ives indicated that the problem was believed to be an engine misfire.

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Ives said that repairs were made without any engine changes or unapproved adjustments, meaning the No. 48 will keep its starting spot and for the green flag in Sunday’s 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM).

“In the 150s, we had a vibration issue that we had to investigate,” Ives said. “We initially thought it was an engine issue, but fortunately it wasn‘t. The team was able to diagnose and fix it. We didn‘t get a whole lot of practice today, but Alex (Bowman) felt everything was fine. We can‘t wait for the Ally Camaro to lead the field to green in tomorrow‘s Daytona 500.”

For Byron, his involvement in a late-race wreck in Duel 2 prompted the No. 24 team to prepare its reserve Chevrolet, meaning he’ll give up his No. 2 starting spot before the race begins. He’ll be among several drivers dropping to the rear of the field in pace laps, but his backup entry is a proven winner. Bryon drove that car to his first Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway in the regular-season finale last August.

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“It‘s been fast every time it‘s been on track, and I think it will be again when we get to the race tomorrow,” said Byron, who also placed fourth with the same car last fall at Talladega Superspeedway. “We were still able to learn a lot in the Duel race on what we need for a setup and what we need security-wise with the handling. While we took a risk running up front during the Duel, those laps led only helped us learn more. Obviously we didn‘t want to go to a backup car, but I think we‘re still in a really good place for the 500. We‘ll definitely be good to go.”

Said Ryan “Rudy” Fugle, in his first year at No. 24 crew chief: “It‘s not an ideal situation but it‘s part of superspeedway racing. We were able to use Thursday‘s race as more of a practice session and get a really good feel for what we need for Sunday. Everything we learned can be applied to the backup car, and at a track like Daytona, where you start isn‘t a deal-breaker. We just need to execute everything on Sunday to put ourselves in a position to be there in the end when it matters.”