At the Track: Practice Updates
Thursday at Daytona International Speedway was marked by periods of heavy rain, especially in the early afternoon. As a result, the opening practice sessions for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were washed out completely.
Fortunately, the rains stopped around 4 PM EDT, allowing for the jet dryers to get on track to dry the 2.5-mile tri-oval. NASCAR amended the schedule so that the Nationwide Series would get one 45 minute practice session. Following a ten minute break, the Sprint Cup Series took to the track for a 45 minute session.
Nationwide Series Practice
In the shortened Nationwide Series practice, Joey Logano turned in the fastest lap at a time of 45.880 seconds (196.164 mph). He was followed up closely by Brad Keselowski with a time of 45.882 seconds (196.155 mph). The two-car drafts were out in force from the moment the track opened until the red and black flags flew. Most of the teams chose not to run single-car runs at all. Most that did are go-or-go home teams, but there were some exceptions. For example, Blake Koch’s car could not push for more than a half a lap without the engine temperature reaching 250 degrees. As a result, he mainly did single-car runs as well.
By no means was the practice session uneventful. Just a couple of minutes after the track opened for practice, Michael Annett and Brian Scott had a coming together in Turn 1. Annett’s No. 62 hit the wall, while Scott’s No. 11 spun to the apron, then back up the track. Since the crash happened on their first timed laps of the session, neither driver officially set a time and will be qualifying first tomorrow afternoon.
Later on, Kevin Harvick, Inc. teammates Elliott Sadler and Clint Bowyer were practicing their tandem drafting when they approached the duo of Jeremy Clements and Derrike Cope. Suddenly and without warning, Cope drifted up the track directly in front of Bowyer and Sadler. Sadler ended up hooking Bowyer, who spun to the apron, then back across the track, breaking his splitter in the process. Then, to add insult to injury, the car became stuck in the mud inside of Turn 4 due to the recent heavy rains. Bowyer will go to a back-up car, and Sadler’s team will repair the No. 2.
Top 10 Speeds:
1. No. 20 Joey Logano 45.880 seconds, 196.164 mph
2. No. 22 Brad Keselowski 45.882 seconds, 196.155 mph
3. No. 32- Reed Sorenson 45.967 seconds, 195.793 mph
4. No. 38- Jason Leffler 45.968 seconds, 195.788 mph
5. No. 2- Elliott Sadler 46.234 seconds, 194.662 mph
6. No. 33- Clint Bowyer 46.234 seconds, 194.662 mph
7. No. 16- Trevor Bayne 46.270 seconds, 194.510 mph
8. No. 6- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 46.271 seconds, 194.510 mph
9. No. 9- Tony Stewart 46.283 seconds, 194.456 mph
10. No. 4- Kevin Harvick 46.283 seconds, 194.456 mph
Sprint Cup Series Practice
Sprint Cup Series practice was more of the same that we saw in Nationwide Series practice, just with faster speeds. Marcos Ambrose turned in the fastest lap of practice with a massive push from teammate AJ Allmendinger. Ambrose’s lap of 45.133 seconds (199.411 mph) raised some eyebrows, but Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby is comfortable with the speeds for now.
The top 32 teams focused on tandem drafting during the session. J.J. Yeley did a little of both tandem drafting and running by himself. However, out of the drivers who exclusively did solo runs, Trevor Bayne was the fastest of them (34th overall with a lap of 49.110 seconds, 183.262 mph). If the time sheets hold in qualifying on Friday, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines and Geoff Bodine are the slowest of the drivers not locked into the field. Kevin Conway and Travis Kvapil are also not necessarily safe, either.
Of course, there were still a couple of incidents during the sessions. Kasey Kahne rubbed against the outside wall in Turn 1, causing minimal damage to the right side of his Red Bull Toyota that the crew will repair. Kevin Conway, driving the No. 97 ExtenZe Toyota for NEMCO Motorsports, had a spin exiting Turn 2 during the session, however, no damage was done to the Camry.
Top 10 Speeds:
1. No. 9- Marcos Ambrose 45.133 seconds, 199.411 mph
2. No. 43- AJ Allmendinger 45.135 seconds, 199.402 mph
3. No. 22- Kurt Busch 45.346 seconds, 198.474 mph
4. No. 2- Brad Keselowski 45.347 seconds, 198.470 mph
5. No. 5- Mark Martin 45.435 seconds, 198.085 mph
6. No. 24- Jeff Gordon 45.435 seconds, 198.085 mph
7. No. 33- Clint Bowyer 45.481 seconds, 197.885 mph
8. No. 31- Jeff Burton 45.481 seconds, 197.885 mph
9. No. 29- Kevin Harvick 45.522 seconds, 197.707 mph
10. No. 27- Paul Menard 45.526 seconds, 197.689 mph
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