For the first time in 341 days, NASCAR hosts its first practice session at the Daytona International Speedway. Each team has sent out their drivers to take notes and make adjustments in preparation for the Daytona 500 coming up this Sunday.
Hendrick Motorsports brings their 4 Chevrolets back to Daytona. All of their cars qualified inside the top 8 in 2020 and are expecting to improve these results this year. All their drivers were the first ones to head out to the track to begin today’s practice in preparation for qualifying, which occurs later today at 7 PM Eastern, running 3 to 5 laps stints and returning to the garage for adjustments.
Behind them, the Joe Gibbs Racing team went all out in a train, joined by NASCAR’s newest team 23XI Racing, which is owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan and current NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin. All of them worked using the draft from each other and took the top five fastest times, with Bubba Wallace topping the charts with an average speed of 199.75 mph.
Halfway through the session each manufacturer was able to break off the top ten. Toyota had posted the fastest laps taking the top 5 with an average above of 199.60 mph.
Jamie McMurray was the first non-Toyota driver to enter the top 10. His last NASCAR race was the 2019 Daytona 500 driving the No. 40 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. He now drives the No. 77 on the same team, but now prepared by Chip Ganassi. Behind him was his teammate Corey Lajoie in the No. 7 Camaro, a newcomer in Spire Motorsports after leaving GoFas Racing.
The final three spots in the top ten were occupied by Michael McDowell in 8th for Front Row, Ryan Newman in 9th for Roush Fenway and Cole Custer rounding it up for Stewart-Haas, all in Ford Mustangs.
Now that practice is complete and the data is in, is time for qualifying tonight at 7 PM.