Michael McDowell picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in his 358th start at last year’s Daytona 500. With a second-place finish in his qualifying race yesterday and the fastest time in final practice Friday (Feb. 18) at 192.68 mph, his Daytona 500 defense is off to a great start.
Front Row Motorsports topped the charts, as McDowell’s teammate and 2022 Cup Rookie of the Year contender Todd Gilliland posted the second quickest time. David Ragan, in a return to Rick Ware Racing’s No. 15 car, wound up third.
The Ford teams made a statement in this practice round, as they ultimately posted 10 of the 12 fastest times. RFK Racing teammates and qualifying race winners Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski were fourth and fifth, no worse for wear after their wheels were confiscated by NASCAR for a potential rules violation earlier in the day.
Cody Ware was sixth fastest, followed by Bubba Wallace as the fastest Toyota and non-Ford driver in seventh. Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Chase Briscoe, Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, and Cole Custer had the eighth, ninth, 11th, and 12th fastest times, respectively. Noah Gragson was the fastest Chevy driver, sandwiched in between the SHR drivers in 10th.
Of the 40 cars qualified for the Daytona 500, 34 of them took to the track in the Friday practice session.
The 2022 Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. E.T., with TV coverage provided by FOX.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf joined Frontstretch in September 2021. He is a staff writer and the Friday news writer. Stephen also pens the weekly “4 Burning Questions” column and contributes to “Friday Faceoff” and “2-Headed Monster.” A Texas native, Stephen started following NASCAR at age 9.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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