Two practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series took place Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying races tomorrow that will set the field for the 55th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
In the first practice, 42 of the 45 cars took to the track with Michael Waltrip turning the fastest lap in the draft in the No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota. His speed was 198.347 mph. David Ragan was second, Tony Stewart third, Paul Menard fourth, and Kyle Busch fifth.
Brad Keselowski ran the most laps with 35 in the session. Ragan in the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports had the best consecutive 10 lap average speed of the 14 drivers who ran at least 10 laps in a row with a speed of 196.185 mph. Jeff Gordon, Josh Wise and Michael McDowell did not run a lap in the first session.
There were three issues that occurred on track in the first practice as well. One accident happened when Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards got into each other and spun out. Mark Martin also received minor damage in the incident. All three drivers will not have to go to back up cars as their crews will be able to fix the slight damage incurred.
"My car came around. I don't know if it was the air off of Carl's (Edwards) car or what," Newman said. "My car just came around. (Referring to the replay) You can see the backend getting light there. I think it's just an aero situation, but that was news to me. Carl (Edwards) came over and said 'hey man' and I said 'I don't even know what to tell you yet'. It was unfortunate for our Quicken Loans Chevrolet, but that is why we had practice. That was my first experience, but I guess my car just got light in the back going into the corner."
Keselowski did run the most laps but it was not without an issue. He lost power early in the practice and had to be pushed to the garage. The team believes they had a fuel system problem similar to the issues they had in 2012.
The third issue was with Dale Earnhardt Jr. His No. 88 Chevrolet lost an engine in a plum of smoke. He will have to give up his sixth starting position in his Duel race tomorrow and start his Duel 150 from the rear.
“I'm sure there is some logical explanation as to what happened,” Earnhardt said, “but we'll just put a new one in and start at the back of the qualifier tomorrow, and race up through there.”
Earnhardt said he did not have any indication that the engine was going away. His Hendrick Motorsports team got a new engine in the No. 88 and he was back on track for the second practice where he turned the most laps with 35.
Only 27 of the 45 cars practiced in the second session as a lot of teams were content without risking their car anymore. Gordon, Wise, and McDowell all got on the track for the first time on Wednesday in the second practice.
Kasey Kahne turned the fastest lap at 197.737 mph. Greg Biffle was second, Jeff Gordon third, Danica Patrick fourth, and Carl Edwards fifth. Five cars ran at least 10 laps consecutively in the second practice with Patrick having the best speed of 195.775 mph.
The next time the cars are on the track will be for the Budweiser Duel 150 qualifying races at 2 p.m. ET Thursday on SPEED.
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