DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers took to the race track for the first time of the 2018 season on Friday. 41 drivers took to the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway for two tame practices. But, at the end of the two sessions, one thing stands out to me – speed.
Not long ago, the XFINITY Series laps around the 2.5-mile track was in the low 180 mph range. On Friday, Tyler Reddick paced the way with a speed of 196.190 mph in his No. 9 Chevrolet in the first session. While that was in the draft, it still shows a ton of speed. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers were around or even over the 200 mph barrier in the draft themselves.
Reddick, is in his first season with JR Motorsports, as the organization looks very strong out of the gates. They had three cars in the Championship 4 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last November and came out looking good in both practices.
In the initial session, they had three of their five drivers inside the top five. In the second one, they had two in the top four.
Chase Elliott was fourth quick in the No. 88 Chevrolet in session No. 1 with a lap of 195.004 mph. Michael Annett was fifth with a speed of 194.515 mph in his No. 5 Chevrolet. Daniel Suarez (195.963 mph) and Spencer Gallagher (195.767 mph) were second and third respectively in that session.
The top Ford driver was Austin Cindric in seventh.
In final practice, most of the running was single car laps. But, Richard Childress Racing hooked up for a few laps with Daniel Hemric leading the way with a speed of 191.322 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet. He was the other participant in the final round last year and is entering 2018 with high hopes of a championship. His RCR teammate of Austin Dillon was second quick on the speed charts with a speed of 191.310 mph in his No. 3 Chevrolet in final practice.
Elliott Sadler (190.553 mph) and Reddick (189.183 mph) were right behind in third and fourth respectively. Kyle Larson rounded out the top five with a speed of 188.893 mph in his No. 42 Chevrolet.
Chevy, had four of the top five speeds in the first session and the top six times of final practice. They also had eight of the top nine in the final session as well and look to be the team to beat on Saturday.