Some things never change: An Earnhardt led Daytona practice.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. paced the first Sprint Cup practice for the Daytona 500 on Saturday morning with a fast lap of 194.116 mph. Joining Earnhardt in the top 5 were defending 500 champion Joey Logano (193.853), 2009 and 2012 race winner Matt Kenseth (193.782), rookie Chase Elliott (193.586) and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne (193.582).
While Hendrick appeared to have the upper hand during the single-car run session, Jimmie Johnson was notably absent at the top of the leaderboard. He finished the session in 19th, with a lap of 192.583.
Other notables: Kyle Busch finished 11th (193.087), Brian Vickers – who is subbing for an injured Tony Stewart – finished 17th (192.666), Danica Patrick finished 31st (191.091) and Clint Bowyer finished 37th (189.314).
Cole Whitt, David Gilliland, Robert Richardson Jr., Josh Wise and Reed Sorenson were the slowest five drivers. All will need to qualify or race their way into the 500 as they do not have one of the 36 charters.
The second practice of the day will take place at 1:30 pm on FS1.