Daytona 500: Darrell Wallace Jr. tops final practice

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Daytona 500: Darrell Wallace Jr. tops final practice
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Feb 17, 2018, 6:02 PM

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will enter his first Daytona 500 as the fastest in the final practice session in preparation for Sunday’s race.

Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Click n' Close Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Click n' Close Ford Fusion

Wallace, in his first full season running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Richard Petty Motorsports, topped the speed chart in Saturday’s final practice with an average lap speed of 196.954 mph.

In a 55-minute session that saw only 25 cars participate, Wallace took part in a 10-car draft early in the session.

“I had no idea we were at the top of the board. That just shows how focused we are,” Wallace said. “The first Daytona 500 for me and I couldn’t be more excited.

“It looks great out there, we’re fast and I’m feeling good.”

Daniel Suarez, who was fastest in both of Friday’s practices, ended up second-fastest (196.528 mph). Ryan Newman was third, rookie William Byron was fourth and Jimmie Johnson completed the top-five.

“We’re pretty excited. We feel like we have a good balance between speed and driveability,” said Newman’s crew chief, Luke Lambert. “We spent quite a bit of time yesterday drafting. The speeds that were running are unprecedented for Daytona.”

Rounding out the top 10 was A.J. Allmendinger, Trevor Bayne, Chase Elliott, Danica Patrick and Justin Marks.

Daytona 500 pole-winner Alex Bowman, who dropped back and elected not to compete for win in Thursday night’s qualifying race, completed just three laps in Saturday’s practice session and was 19th-fastest.

Asked if he was concerned about not having a lot of time drafting prior to the Sunday’s race, Bowman said, “For us, it’s a real testament to Hendrick Motorsports. We have three other cars to rely on set-up wise.

“We can take that and I just have to do my job driving it.”

The teams of Kyle Busch, Johnson, Allmendinger and Gray Gaulding lost the final 15 minutes of the practice session after each twice failed Daytona 500 qualifying inspection.

Among the teams that elected not to participate in the session were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 9 45.696     196.954
2 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 7 45.795 0.099 0.099 196.528
3 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 8 45.810 0.114 0.015 196.464
4 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 8 45.829 0.133 0.019 196.382
5 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 7 45.847 0.151 0.018 196.305
6 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 9 45.852 0.156 0.005 196.284
7 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 18 45.876 0.180 0.024 196.181
8 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 4 45.877 0.181 0.001 196.177
9 7 united_states Danica Patrick  Chevrolet 8 45.889 0.193 0.012 196.125
10 51 united_states Justin Marks  Chevrolet 9 45.931 0.235 0.042 195.946
11 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 6 45.931 0.235 0.000 195.946
12 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 17 46.316 0.620 0.385 194.317
13 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 4 46.809 1.113 0.493 192.271
14 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 14 46.809 1.113 0.000 192.271
15 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 6 46.926 1.230 0.117 191.791
16 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 10 47.027 1.331 0.101 191.379
17 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 10 47.073 1.377 0.046 191.192
18 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 12 47.075 1.379 0.002 191.184
19 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 3 47.081 1.385 0.006 191.160
20 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 3 47.220 1.524 0.139 190.597
21 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 8 47.397 1.701 0.177 189.885
22 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 4 47.533 1.837 0.136 189.342
23 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 7 48.095 2.399 0.562 187.130
24 92 united_states David Gilliland  Ford 13 48.156 2.460 0.061 186.893
25 72 united_states Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 2 48.546 2.850 0.390 185.391

 

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