DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — The stage is now set, there’s nothing preliminary left for the NASCAR Cup Series before we race Sunday’s 62nd Running of the Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN).
All four practice sessions are complete – in the books. So is qualifying. So are the two 150-mile qualifying races as well as the Busch Clash. 40 cars now head to the Cup Series garage and will have car covers put over them until they get staged on pit road on Sunday morning.
The final Daytona 500 practice was run on Saturday as 26 of the 40 starters took to the famed 2.5-mile tri oval in Eastern Florida. While this practice session is typically tame in nature, we saw a little more action than we were accustomed to seeing.
All five of the Toyota’s to go along with pole sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were noticeably absent on Saturday, but they felt really good about where their cars sit setups wise heading into the opening race of the 2020 season.
For the cars that did run, the Team Penske trio, three Hendrick Motorsports cars and all four Stewart-Haas Racing entries mixed with their alliance team in Go Fas Racing decided to work in a draft still as they took advantage of better conditions on a sun filled early afternoon at the World Center of Speed.
See, Friday’s practice was under cool, windy and cloudy conditions. The last practice session prior to Friday was last Saturday and in those sessions, teams elected for more single car runs since qualifying was to be done on Sunday. With the Duels on Thursday night being an impound race, once they all qualified, they couldn’t touch them again until after the Duels.
So Friday was key to get on track to get your cars handling right at the end of the ‘500. Saturday, was key to get it right to get to the end of Sunday’s sold out race.
The Ford’s topped the speed charts on Saturday with Joey Logano being quickest at 200.516 mph in his No. 22 Ford. He was followed on the speed charts by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick who turned in a lap of 200.512 mph in his No. 4 Ford. Logano’s Penske teammate of Brad Keselowski (200.499 mph) was third while SHR’s followed suit next in taking spots 4-6.
The top Chevy was William Byron (198.754 mph) in ninth.
Byron, said that the reason they spent so much time on practice was due to the track changing as the week goes on. More and more grip gets put down which can change the way that theses cars handle. So, they’re filling up the notebook at the HMS camp in ensuring that no matter what comes their ways on Sunday, they have a counter.