Found February 23, 2013 on
Fox Sports Florida:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Quiet most of Speedweeks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a little noise Saturday.
Earnhardt topped the speed chart for the final practice session before Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500.
The 2004 Daytona 500 champion turned the fast lap by averaging 198.592 mph around the 2 -mile superspeedway. David Gilliland was second, followed by Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola.
Pole-sitter Danica Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart were among 10 drivers who skipped the 1 -hour final tuneup. Patrick is trying to become the first driver win the Daytona 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000. Only nine drivers have accomplished the feat in 54 years.
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, 2010 Daytona 500 champ Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Terry Labonte and Joe Nemechek also sat out the session. So did Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
"We don't have any plans to go out," Gordon said. "We feel like this entire week we have been able to learn everything we need to get prepared for the race tomorrow. ... We've got a great race car. We are excited. We've got a great opportunity here."
Before Saturday, Earnhardt had done little during Speedweeks. He finished eighth in the Sprint Unlimited and ninth in his qualifying race. He will start 19th in the "Great American Race," his lowest opening spot in 14 years at NASCAR's premier event.
His speed in the final practice had to boost the team's confidence.
Almirola, however, posted the best 10-lap average. He averaged 196.195 mph over 10 laps on new tires. Earnhardt was sixth on that chart.
"We are excited about this weekend and feel like we have a good car and got it driving good in that last practice session," Almirola said.
The final session involved little bump-drafting and even less side-by-side action -- no doubt because teams were leery of wrecking race cars about 24 hours before the Daytona 500.
Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski provided the most action when he hit a bird.
"I killed a Tweetie bird," said Keselowski, one of auto racing's top Tweeters.
Keselowski was 17th in the final practice.
"This is our 500 engine, so trying to get an idea of how it's going to perform," he said. "My car is really good. Definitely faster than what it was, so that's good, right? I'm definitely optimistic."
Of the teams that didn't practice, most of them valued keeping their car intact over incremental gains that could be found so late in Speedweeks.
Patrick, Stewart, Gordon and the Gibbs cars have been some of the fastest all week.
BEST OF MAXIM
Jimmie Johnson finished fourth in today's Duel. He commented on what he learned.“It’s really tough to pass. When another car gets near your rear tire it’s like you threw the parachute out. Just a new vehicle, a new way to race we are trying to understand how to make our car better in those situations, just trying to learn really. Great run, a Chevy won, I think we were...
FOURTEENTH SEASON: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, will kick off his 14th fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup season when he takes the green flag in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24. Earnhardt made his Cup debut on May 30, 1999, when he started eighth and finished 16th at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. In 469 career starts, the Kannapolis, N.C., native, has...
On any given weekend during NASCAR season, thousands of fans pour into stadiums around the country to take part in a sport that is growing more popular every year. Tens of thousands of people gather around their television sets at home with their families every weekend to watch the races. NASCAR has become a household name and even those who are not fans still have some familiarity...
Yesterday I asked if Danica Patrick could help turn around NASCAR's struggling ratings with a strong performance from the pole in the Daytona 500. The question was met in the affirmative. The 2013 Daytona 500 won by Jimmie Johnson ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. was way up in the overnight ratings versus last year with the number moving Fox and NASCAR to do celebratory donuts...
DAYTONA, Fla. – Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, won the 55th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. It also marked the first victory for the recently introduced Chevrolet SS, which was making its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut.
“I’m very happy to win the first race in the Gen-6 car for Chevrolet...
Sam Hornish, Jr. led the way with a lap of 46.915 seconds in the first practice for the DRIVE4COPD 300 from Daytona. Rounding out the top five was Brad Keselowski, Brian Scott, Austin Dillon, and Elliott Sadler.
Sam Hornish Jr.
Alliance Truck Parks Ford
Discount Tire Ford
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the way with a lap of 45.319 seconds in the final practice for the Daytona 500 from Daytona. Rounding out the top five was David Gilliland, Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose, and Aric Almirola.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
National Guard Chevrolet
Love’s Travel Stops Ford
Photo- Getty Images
A late race surge helped Jimmie Johnson remain in the front of the pack and allowed Johnson to hold off his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr for the Daytona 500 win. This is Johnson’s second Daytona 500 win; he won the 500 for the first time in 2006. A very strung out raced featured lots of great racing and Johnson played the game perfectly to...