DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The final 50 minute practice session before the 61st Running of the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is available for all 40 starters in this year’s field. But, like in year’s past, we didn’t have many takers.
See, after the Duels on Thursday night and two drafting practices on the 2.5-mile superspeedway on Friday, why risk tearing your car up just 27 hours before race time?
So, only 20 cars took to the high banks of Daytona on Saturday, all doing single car runs.
The fastest was Michael McDowell. The Front Row Motorsports driver turned a speed of 191.440 mph in his No. 34 Ford. McDowell, is always a sleeper on plate tracks and will be one again this Sunday.
Chevrolet’s rounded out the top five behind McDowell.
Ty Dillon was second fastest in his No. 13 Chevrolet. The younger brother of last year’s Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon, circled the track with a lap of 191.432 mph.
Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers filled the next two spots as both front row starters were third and fourth respectively.
William Byron (191.339 mph) was third in his No. 24 Chevrolet while Alex Bowman (191.278 mph) was fourth in his No. 88 Chevrolet.
Daniel Hemric (190.921 mph) rounded out the top five in his No. 8 Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson gave HMS three cars in the top seven as the Clash winner was seventh fastest in his No. 48 Chevrolet. The fourth HMS car in Chase Elliott sat out practice.
The goal this session was to find more speed in their cars and make sure there weren’t any car problems. One driver was glad they hit the track.
See, on Thursday night, Kyle Larson lost the draft late in the race and could never suck back up. His engine sounded sour too. On Friday, they found in practice a leak in the transmission.
You’d rather discover these problems in the Duels or in practice than in the race itself. On Saturday, Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team hit the track for 10 laps to ensure there were not problems moving forward.
That’s what Saturday’s practice session was all about.