NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson tops speed chart in opening Daytona 500 practice
Jimmie Johnson returned to a familiar position on Friday-the front of the NASCAR Cup Series field. With a lap at 194.225 mph, Johnson led a group of four Chevrolet drivers who posted the fastest speeds in opening practice for the Daytona 500.
Chase Elliott, the seven-time champion’s former teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, was second fastest at 194.195 mph, followed by JTG-Daugherty’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and pole winner Alex Bowman.
Johnson, who has no competitive experience in NASCAR’s Next Gen car, proved he’s a quick study. He returns to Cup racing as an owner/driver in the No. 84 Chevrolet at Legacy Motor Club after a two-year absence during which he raced in IndyCar.
“It’s my first weekend in this car,” said Johnson, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. “It’s (crew chief) Todd (Gordon’s) first weekend working on the Next Gen car and the first time we’ve all worked together. So we’re going through quality reps right now.
“It’s just so fun to get out there and mix it up. I was in a great draft with Chase and understanding the bump-drafting aspect of where this car is and got some quality reps there, too.”
Led by Aric Almirola, Ford drivers claimed the next eight fastest positions in practice. The quickest Toyota driver was Martin Truex Jr. in 17th.
Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion jumped to the top of the speed chart on his second lap, touring the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 46.664 seconds at 192.868 mph. That lap in the draft was more than 11 mph faster than Bowman’s pole-winning speed of 181.686 mph during single-car qualifying runs on Wednesday night.
With 34 minutes left in the 50-minute session, Ford drivers Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano surpassed Larson’s speed, soon to be joined by Almirola, who posted the fastest speed of the session at that point at 194.107 mph (46.366 seconds).
In a backup car, thanks to a wreck while leading Thursday’s second Duel, Kyle Busch started his practice session in an interesting group that included teammate Austin Dillon and Trackhouse Racing drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez, the latter of whom had sent Busch spinning out of control in the qualifying race.
Busch turned 15 laps in practice, with a high speed of 190.234 mph, before taking his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the garage.
“It’s good,” Busch said of the backup. “It’s really hard to tell the speed, obviously, just being out there with three other cars. You want to be in a bigger pack… I’m really proud of the guys, proud that it feels good, and we’ll get ’em on Sunday.”
With 11 minutes left, a large pack of Chevrolets led by Johnson drafted back to the top of the chart. With Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Bowman close behind, Camaros claimed the top four spots and remained there through the end of the session.
Cup Series Practice Results
|1||*84 Jimmie Johnson||Carvana Chevrolet||46.338||194.225||—.—||—.—|
|2||9 Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet||46.345||194.196||-0.007||-0.007|
|3||47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet||46.348||194.183||-0.010||-0.003|
|4||48 Alex Bowman||Ally Chevrolet||46.360||194.133||-0.022||-0.012|
|5||10 Aric Almirola||Smithfield Ford||46.366||194.108||-0.028||-0.006|
|6||22 Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford||46.369||194.095||-0.031||-0.003|
|7||12 Ryan Blaney||Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford||46.373||194.078||-0.035||-0.004|
|8||14 Chase Briscoe||Mahindra Tractors Ford||46.392||193.999||-0.054||-0.019|
|9||4 Kevin Harvick||Busch Light Ford||46.408||193.932||-0.070||-0.016|
|10||*36 Zane Smith(i)||Wellcare Ford||46.417||193.894||-0.079||-0.009|
|11||17 Chris Buescher||Fastenal Ford||46.477||193.644||-0.139||-0.060|
|12||21 Harrison Burton||Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford||46.506||193.523||-0.168||-0.029|
|13||5 Kyle Larson||HendrickCars.com Chevrolet||46.664||192.868||-0.326||-0.158|
|14||43 Erik Jones||GUNS N’ ROSES Chevrolet||46.688||192.769||-0.350||-0.024|
|15||24 William Byron||RaptorTough.com Chevrolet||46.692||192.753||-0.354||-0.004|
|16||7 Corey LaJoie||Celsius Chevrolet||46.737||192.567||-0.399||-0.045|
|17||19 Martin Truex Jr.||Bass Pro Shops Toyota||46.738||192.563||-0.400||-0.001|
|18||41 Ryan Preece||HaasTooling.com Ford||46.762||192.464||-0.424||-0.024|
|19||77 Ty Dillon||Ferris Chevrolet||46.772||192.423||-0.434||-0.010|
|20||11 Denny Hamlin||FedEx 50 Toyota||46.819||192.230||-0.481||-0.047|
|21||42 Noah Gragson #||Wendy’s Chevrolet||46.844||192.127||-0.506||-0.025|
|22||54 Ty Gibbs #||Monster Energy/Interstate Batteries Toyota||46.865||192.041||-0.527||-0.021|
|23||6 Brad Keselowski||Nexlizet Ford||46.954||191.677||-0.616||-0.089|
|24||78 BJ McLeod||Power Slap Rumble Chevrolet||46.955||191.673||-0.617||-0.001|
|25||38 Todd Gilliland||gener8tor Skills Ford||46.980||191.571||-0.642||-0.025|
|26||34 Michael McDowell||Love’s Travel Stops Ford||46.983||191.559||-0.645||-0.003|
|27||45 Tyler Reddick||Monster Energy Toyota||47.205||190.658||-0.867||-0.222|
|28||20 Christopher Bell||DeWalt/Rheem Toyota||47.213||190.625||-0.875||-0.008|
|29||*67 Travis Pastrana||Black Rifle Coffee Toyota||47.240||190.517||-0.902||-0.027|
|30||1 Ross Chastain||AdventHealth Chevrolet||47.271||190.392||-0.933||-0.031|
|31||3 Austin Dillon||Bass Pro Shops Club Chevrolet||47.307||190.247||-0.969||-0.036|
|32||8 Kyle Busch||3CHI Chevrolet||47.310||190.235||-0.972||-0.003|
|33||99 Daniel Suarez||Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet||47.316||190.210||-0.978||-0.006|
|34||51 Cody Ware||Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford||47.375||189.974||-1.037||-0.059|
|35||23 Bubba Wallace||McDonald’s Toyota||47.913||187.840||-1.575||-0.538|
|36||*50 Conor Daly(i)||BitNile.com Chevrolet||48.304||186.320||-1.966||-0.391|
|37||2 Austin Cindric||Discount Tire Ford||49.297||182.567||-2.959||-0.993|