DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions were somewhat tame. With 20-percent of the 40 car field already going to backup cars for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), most wanted to avoid carnage. That’s why they worked together in the draft with same manufacturers or teammates so practice crashing wouldn’t occur.
But, at the end of the day, Joe Gibbs Racing and Daniel Suarez led the way.
Suarez, was quickest in both sessions, turning a lap of 199.840 mph in the first practice of the day on Friday and 203.179 mph in the final of two sessions. The speed is obviously there in the No. 19 Toyota for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
His teammate Denny Hamlin was second quickest in the first session with a lap around the 2.5-mile high banked oval with a speed of 199.743 mph in his No. 11 Toyota. A third Toyota in defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. was third quick in his No. 78 Toyota (199.694 mph).
David Ragan (199.650 mph) and Danica Patrick (199.406 mph) rounded out the top five of the incident free practice. 36 of the 40 cars took time that practice.
In the final session, Ryan Newman was second fastest with a lap of 202.945 mph in his No. 31 Chevrolet. Michael McDowell was next up with a speed of 202.867 mph in his No. 34 Ford to give Front Row Motorsports a driver in the top five in both sessions.
AJ Allmendinger (202.739 mph) and Kyle Busch (202.689 mph) were fourth and fifth respectively.
Just 29 of the 40 cars took to the track in that final session of the day.