As midday gradually moved towards late afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, somewhat traditional storm clouds gathered to the west over the Pine Barrens of Central and Western Volusia County. Those storms just strafed the track right as teams were about to pull out onto pit road for the start of practice. About eight to ten cars made it out to pit road before NASCAR announced the suspension of the session. Those drivers had to hang a U-turn and drive back to their garage stalls. A couple of more cars were on the way to pit road and simply stopped and backed up.
It never really rained all that much. What little rain fell dried up almost as quickly. However, there was still a threat of lightning. As a result, the track cleared the grandstands and went into a holding pattern. Once the all-clear was given, the track finally opened for an abbreviated 45 minute session at 5:00 PM EDT, it was a scramble.
Many of the fastest laps were turned in during the first eight minutes prior to a caution for metal debris in the tri-oval. Jeff Gordon was fastest at that time with a lap of over 201 mph. The second portion of the session saw gamesmanship on the parts of a number of drivers. A large pack drove out onto the track and trundled around at about 65 mph, similar to the pace on Interstate 4 west of Daytona Beach through the aforementioned Pine Barrens for a couple of laps before pulling in.
After the gamesmanship ended, the fastest laps of the session were set. The best of these laps, a 44.565 second lap (201.952 mph), was set by Jamie McMurray. McMurray’s Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Kyle Larson was second fastest with a lap of 44.579 seconds (201.889 mph). Clint Bowyer was third fastest, followed by Brad Keselowski and Gordon, fastest in the first stint of the session.
Right at the end of the session, more storm clouds moved over Daytona International Speedway. The session itself was unaffected; it ran to its scheduled completion at 5:45 PM EDT. However, lightning could be seen by drivers when they were entering Turn 1 in the final minutes. Not long afterwards, the grandstands were cleared once again. This time, the rains soaked the track down, wiping out the scheduled 80 minute Happy Hour practice. It will not be made up.
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