Speedweeks Shaping Up As Speedy Indeed; Earnhardt Jr. On Bud Pole
Predictions that the new surface at Daytona International Speedway would produce high speeds proved more than correct on Friday.
Joey Logano was the fastest car in the evening session of Friday’s practice for Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. His top lap was at an impressive 203.087 mph.
In all, 10 drivers posted speeds in excess of 200 mph in the cool of the evening.
Second fastest in the night session was Kyle Busch at 203.982 mph. Third was two-time Daytona 500 winner, Michael Waltrip at 202.152 mph. Bobby Labone was fourth, Greg Biffle fiftth and Denny Hamlin sixth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fastest in the first practice – held in the heat of the day – with a lap at 199.862 mph. Next was his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Mark Martin, who had a lap at 199.862 mph.
Third in the afternoon session was, yes, a Hendrick car. Five time and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had a lap at 199.636 mph.
The draw for starting order of the 24-car Shootout was held on Friday night and Earnhardt won the pole position.
Tony Stewart will start second.
Carl Edwards will start third and Denny Hamlin fourth.
Johnson drew the 23rd starting spot.
The surface was repaved in the off season and the result has been a super-smooth surface. After a series of tests at the track, many drivers have predicted a season-opening race which will be exciting – for fans, at least, if not drivers.
In the past, NASCAR officials have considered the 200-mile mark a barrier it did not want cars to scale. They have responded on several occasions by decreasing the size of the holes in the restrictor plates the cars use between the carburetors and the intake manifolds.
Friday night, after practice, NASCAR officials said they would monitor speeds on Saturday before acting on a plate change.
The evening practice was interrupted when lights at DIS went dark. They were quickly restored and practice was not extended to compensate.
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