Center stage in Daytona as Cup drivers run final practice for the Duel races

Michael Waltrip and Kasey Kahne fastest as Sprint Cup drivers practice for Thursday’s Duel races to set final starting lineup except for the front row which locked in after Sunday’s qualifying.

NASCAR Sprint Cup practice took center stage at the Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday as teams made final preparations for Thursday’s twin Duel races. Two 90-minute practice sessions were run. Identifying drafting partners was the theme of the day, as teams didn’t want to draft with just anybody. As a result, crew chiefs negotiated with prospective draft partners prior to going onto the track.

Forty-two cars went out in round one with Michael Waltrip topping the speed charts with a speed of 198.347 miles per hour. David Ragan and Tony Stewart also topped the 198 mark.

David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports Ford
David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Kasey Kahne led 26 others in the second round. His speed was 197.737 mph. Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick and Carl Edwards were next in order.

Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer were among those that did not practice during the second session.

An incident involving Ryan Newman and Edwards took place during the first session as Newman’s car got sideways without warning. Edwards saw it unfold and got involved to a minor degree. Each car suffered minor but fixable damage.

Said Newman, “I don’t know what happened, but my car came around. I don’t know if it was the air off of Carl’s (Edwards) car or what. (On the replay) You can see the backend getting light. I think it’s just an aero situation, but that was news to me. Carl (Edwards) came over and said ‘Hey man’… I said ‘I don’t even know what to tell you yet’. It was unfortunate for our, but that is why we had practice.

“I think some of it has to do with the huge shark fin that we have on that side. When you pack air up on that side, it’s not going to the spoiler; it’s getting blocked off from the spoiler.”

We broke a motor; it's as simple as that.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Edwards stated, “I was up close to Ryan and then all of a sudden his car just got a little loose, and there was no space. I could have given him more space, but I don’t think either one of us really understands why his car got so loose. It was just all of a sudden and he was turned sideways. It’s really interesting and something I’m gonna be careful of during the race.” The car was fixed.

Also, Brad Keselowski’s engine failed while on the track. “Something went wrong with the fuel system in the car,” he said. “That’s not what you want when you’re in front of the pack because when your car slows down, they’ve got nowhere to go, and it could cause a wreck. So we’re gonna spend a little extra time to make sure we’ve got whatever it is figured out.”

He doesn’t believe the engine has to be changed but will leave it up to his crew to make that decision. “I am not a car doctor, and I will let the car doctors be the car doctors.”

Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Ford
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

In addition, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s engine broke, and it had to be replaced, which puts him into the back of the field for the upcoming Duel. “We broke a motor; it's as simple as that,” he said. “They'll figure out what happened. I'm sure there is some logical explanation as to what happened, but, we'll just put a new one in and start at the back of the Duel and race up through there.”

Thursday’s Duel races will be preceded by the first of two practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entrants. The first 60-lap Duel will be flagged off at approximately 2 p.m. ET.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Eric Gilbert , Brad Keselowski , David Ragan , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Front Row Motorsports
Article type Practice report
Tags chevrolet, daytona, ford, kahne, nascar-cup, patrick, stewart, toyota, waltrip