TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

Many drivers sit out practice

DAYTONA BEACH - Kevin Harvick sat out both Daytona 500 practice sessions on Friday, and he wasn't alone. Joining Harvick on the sideline were 11 other drivers, including Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Paul Menard. Dillon is scheduled to make his Daytona 500 debut. Other notables who sat out Friday were Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin. Harvick goes into Sunday's season-opening race with two wins in two races at Speedweeks. His No. 29 Chevrolet sat covered in its garage stall most of the day. Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart posted the fastest lap of the day in the second practice when he ran around Daytona International Speedway at 197.131 mph. He was followed on the speed chart by four-time champion Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick. Kasey Kahne's 10 consecutive lap average of 195.305 mph was tops for the day, and he was followed by Patrick, who went 195.258.
"Practice today, it was the most racing we've done," she said. "I ran 32 laps straight. We are feeling much more comfortable with the balance going into Sunday." Patrick is the first woman in history to win the top starting position in NASCAR's top Sprint Cup Series. Crew chief Tony Gibson said Patrick has chosen to start the race from the outside lane, which will allow her to run early in the high line that has worked so well for drivers this week. Patrick started on the inside in Thursday's qualifying race, and said she learned quickly the Stewart-Haas Racing crew had made the wrong call. Part of Thursday's decision was to line Patrick up in front of Stewart, her teammate and co-car owner. "Our plan was to stay with Stewart right behind us, and we were hoping to pull away, both of us, at least right at the start," Gibson said. "We're going to cut her loose on Sunday. We told her to treat it like a video game." Bayne takes pole for Nationwide opener Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will start from the pole in the Nationwide Series season opener today. Bayne turned the fast lap during qualifying at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, averaging 177.162 mph around the 21/2-mile superspeedway. Bayne is driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Sam Hornish Jr. will start second, followed by Parker Kligerman, Travis Pastrana and Austin Dillon. Full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch (seventh), Matt Kenseth (ninth), Tony Stewart (10th), Brad Keselowski (11th), Danica Patrick (12th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13th) and Kasey Kahne (19th) also are entered in today's 300-mile race. NHRA: Antron Brown raced to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel on Friday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. One week after walking away uninjured from a fiery crash at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif., Brown powered his new dragster to a leading time of 3.765 seconds at 314.83 mph. Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix.