DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The magic of 200 mph has returned to Daytona Int’l Speedway as drafting practice saw 11 cars top the 200 mph mark in Friday’s final practice session.
Paul Menard’s No. 21 Wood Brothers’ Ford Mustang was the fastest at 200.758 mph followed by Jamie McMurray’s No. 40 Chevrolet at 200.695 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third in a Roush Fenway Ford Mustang at 200.664 mph. His new teammate, Ryan Newman, was fourth at 200.637 mph in another Ford, with Clint Bowyer’s Ford rounding out the top five at 200.588 mph.
Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick also topped the 200 mph mark in Friday afternoon’s practice.
Only 29 of the 40 cars that will start Sunday’s Daytona 500 were on the track for Friday’s final practice.
“We’ve had a really fast car all week,” Menard said. “Our 500 car is still pretty quick so we’re going to roll with it.”
Logano was another driver that made short use of Friday’s second practice.
“The cars are fast, that’s good, the cars are driving great and I’m excited about that,” said Duel No. 2 race winner Logano.
There is one more practice scheduled from 12:05 to 12:55 p.m. on Saturday before Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Sunday’s race could feature moments of single-file racing in drafts and that is one reason there were 11 cars that surpassed 200 mph in the second session as teams focused on drafting. Eleven other cars chose to stay off the track to protect the cars for Sunday’s race.
“I haven’t seen a whole lot of difference this year than any of the rest of the years,” team owner Richard Petty said. “I think NASCAR is a little bit closer on inspection. Other than that, this year the rules down here are pretty much what they were last year, they’re just tightening up on the rules.
“Other than that, I don’t see a lot of changes.”