NACARS Turn5: Florida boy looking pretty good!!!!

[B][SIZE=“3”][I]Daytona Notes
by Phil Allaway

Almirola Quickest in First Sprint Cup Session at Daytona

In the first practice session for Sprint Cup, there were two dominant strategies. One was single-car runs, preferred by teams that need to get into the race on speed Friday afternoon though some teams locked into the field did the same. The other, much more widely used strategy was to run in a large pack in order to simulate temperatures for the race.

In this setup, Aric Almirola ran the fastest lap with a time of 44.563 seconds (201.961 mph) in the middle of the draft. Almirola’s teammate Marcos Ambrose was second fastest, followed by Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle. Most of the teams locked into the field stayed out on track for roughly half of a fuel run. However, Tony Stewart turned in 49 laps in the session, by far the most of anyone. His team had a number of things that they wanted to try in the session, so they did multiple runs before eventually running out of fuel during the session.

Among the drivers that must qualify Friday on speed, Trevor Bayne was fastest with a time of 46.704 seconds (192.703 mph), good enough for 32nd quickest on the charts. Bill Elliott, driving in a one-off Walmart-sponsored No. 50 for Turner Motorsports, was the second fastest go-or-go-homer with a lap of 47.088 seconds (191.131 mph), while Mike Bliss was the third fastest.

Those drivers that could potentially be in trouble in qualifying are Robert Richardson, Jr., Stephen Leicht and J.J. Yeley, who were the three slowest drivers of those that must qualify on speed. To make matters worse for Richardson, his car started smoking during the session, forcing an early end to his on-track activities and a caution to fly.

Another team that chose an interesting strategy for the session was the No. 11, normally driven by Denny Hamlin. Due to back spasms, Hamlin chose to take Thursday off and skip the Subway Jalapeno 250 all together. Originally, Joey Logano was supposed to fill-in briefly during the first session. However, Kyle Busch ended up driving the No. 11 for a mere three laps by himself, turning a quick lap of 46.863 seconds, good enough for 33rd quickest. After that, the team finished for the day.

Multiple teams chose to sit out the second session. In fact, Brad Keselowski even held his weekly press conference at his hauler during the session (his team was one of many who skipped the session).

Just 24 cars participated and featured much of the same strategies of the opening session, just with fewer cars. The first half of the session saw a medium-sized pack on-track, while much of the rest of the time was nearly exclusive to single-car runs.

Jamie McMurray turned in the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 197.837 mph while in the big pack. Michael Waltrip was second quickest, followed by Kurt Busch, Travis Kvapil and Almirola.

In the single-car runs, Bayne was again fastest with a lap of 46.221 seconds (194.717 mph); it was the fastest single-car run of the entire day. Elliott was second, followed by Joe Nemechek. Richardson, Yeley and Leicht were the three slowest drivers in the session.

Good luck today for your second POLE!!![/I][/SIZE][/B]