DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Harvick sat out both Daytona 500 practice sessions Friday and he wasn’t alone.
Joining Harvick on the sidelines were 11 other drivers, including Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Paul Menard. Dillon is scheduled to make his Daytona 500 debut. Other notables who sat out Friday were Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin.
Harvick goes into Sunday’s season-opening race with two wins in two races at Speedweeks. His No. 29 Chevrolet sat covered in its garage stall most of the day.
Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart posted the fastest lap of the day in the second practice when he ran around Daytona International Speedway at 197.131 mph. He was followed on the speed chart by four-time champion Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick. Kasey Kahne’s 10 consecutive lap average of 195.305 mph was tops for the day, and he was followed by Patrick, who went 195.258.
Practice today, it was the most racing we’ve done, she said. I ran 32 laps straight. We are feeling much more comfortable with the balance going into Sunday.
Patrick is the first woman in history to win the top starting position in NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup Series. Crew chief Tony Gibson said Patrick has chosen to start the race from the outside lane, which will allow her to run early in the high line that has worked so well this week.
Trucks Series opener
In Daytona Beach, Fla., Johnny Sauter won the Truck Series season opener, his first victory at Daytona International Speedway.
Sauter led the final 17 laps and held off Kyle Busch before a last-lap wreck forced the 250-mile race to finish under caution.
Ron Hornaday Jr. was third, followed by Justin Lofton, Jeb Burton and Ty Dillon. Defending series champion James Buescher finished 13th.
Antron Brown raced to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz.
Brown powered his new dragster to a leading time of 3.765 seconds at 314.83 mph. Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix.
Around the track
Retired NFL star Ray Lewis will serve as honorary starter for the Daytona 500. Lewis ended his 17-year NFL career by helping Baltimore defeat San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3. Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, will drive the honorary pace car for Sunday’s Daytona 500. He’ll be behind the wheel of a 2014 Chevrolet SS.