DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — The first Daytona 500 race practice took place on Friday evening with only 32 of the 40 starters for Sunday’s sold out race taking to the 2.5-mile tri oval in the 50 minute session.
Yes, these drivers have had two practice sessions already, but both of those were run last Saturday afternoon and both were also for Daytona 500 qualifying as well Thursday night’s Duel.
From Saturday on, the only on track activity for the Cup drivers was qualifying, the Clash (18 drivers) and the Duels. The Daytona 500 cars were impounded between Sunday and Thursday.
So, this was an important practice session and was very busy. The Chevrolet drivers took to the track first in a big long drafting session, followed by the Toyota’s who worked by themselves all session and the Ford’s making a couple of runs.
In the end, William Byron topped the speed charts in going in excess of 204 mph. Byron, went 204.587 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. He won last night’s second 150-mile qualifying race and will start fourth in Sunday’s Great American Race (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN).
Byron, led a Chevy brigade with the bowties going 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 in the session. Ryan Preece (204.095 mph), Chase Elliott (203.868 mph), Ty Dillon (203.422 mph) and rookie Tyler Reddick (202.922 mph) rounded out the top five.
All four Hendrick Motorsports cars were found in the top seven overall.
Eighth through 12th went to all five of the Toyota’s in the field while Ford’s went 13th through 22nd.
The quickest Toyota was last year’s Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin (201.820 mph) while the quickest Ford was Chris Buescher (201.211 mph).
Overall, 23 of the 32 cars topped 200 mph in the incident free session.