Daytona 500: Hendrick rookie Byron tops practice for NASCAR opener


Rookie William Byron posted the fastest lap across Saturday’s three NASCAR Cup practice sessions ahead of the Daytona 500, utilising a large pack of cars drafting to set his time.

One of Hendrick Motorsports’ new recruits for 2018, reigning Xfinity Series champion Byron set the quickest time of the day in the third session despite multiple dramas on Saturday.

Byron caused a brief red flag when a broken seal on his #24 Chevrolet leaked fluid onto the track in second practice.

He then suffered two wayward moments late in third practice, running off-line and close to Denny Hamlin before later being run into the path of Hamlin again with a tap from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Between those two moments, the 20-year-old set the day’s fastest time of 44.625s at an average speed of 201.681mph.

Stenhouse, who won three of NASCAR’s four ‘plate’ races at superspeedways last season, was second fastest overall, leading a Ford 2-3 with Joey Logano behind.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s quartet of Toyotas had locked out the top four places in second practice but, with times falling in the late afternoon runs, only Hamlin held onto a top four spot, going fourth quickest as the last car within a tenth of a second from Byron.

Despite Toyota’s dominance of the 2017 Cup season, and Chevrolet introducing a new car for 2018, Ford took six of the top 10 places.

David Ragan, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne all took advantage of the late drafting battle to break the 45-second barrier.

Michael McDowell was 10th in the second session in his Front Row Motorsports Ford.

Though Joe Gibbs’ dominance had been broken by the end of the day, it was still the only team with three of its cars in the top 10.

Daniel Suarez went ninth quickest, while Kyle Busch’s fastest time from second practice was enough to put him 10th on aggregate.

Saturday’s morning opening practice session was only available to the 17 cars that will contest Sunday’s 75-lap ‘Clash’ race.

Team Penske dominated that session, going first, second and fourth fastest with Ryan Blaney, Logano and Brad Keselowski respectively.

FP1 times

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 45.058s 11
2 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 45.085s 0.027s 10
3 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 45.088s 0.030s 12
4 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 45.109s 0.051s 12
5 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 45.621s 0.563s 12
6 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 45.639s 0.581s 13
7 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 45.944s 0.886s 14
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 46.062s 1.004s 12
9 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.092s 1.034s 5
10 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 46.241s 1.183s 11
11 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.327s 1.269s 6
12 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 46.424s 1.366s 8
13 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 46.442s 1.384s 5
14 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.480s 1.422s 14
15 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 46.515s 1.457s 9
16 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.540s 1.482s 12
17 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 46.625s 1.567s 9
18 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 46.627s 1.569s 9
19 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 46.627s 1.569s 7
20 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 46.645s 1.587s 5
21 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 46.653s 1.595s 6
22 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 46.691s 1.633s 9
23 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 46.735s 1.677s 12
24 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 46.811s 1.753s 8
25 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 46.859s 1.801s 6
26 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 46.941s 1.883s 6
27 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 46.977s 1.919s 8
28 Brendan Gaughan Beard Motorsports Chevrolet 46.988s 1.930s 2
29 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 47.039s 1.981s 6
30 David Gilliland RBR Enterprises Ford 47.124s 2.066s 9
31 Danica Patrick Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 47.361s 2.303s 8
32 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 47.403s 2.345s 16
33 D.J. Kennington Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 47.505s 2.447s 3
34 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 47.541s 2.483s 5
35 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 47.562s 2.504s 4
36 Justin Marks Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 47.783s 2.725s 9
37 Jeffrey Earnhardt StarCom Racing Chevrolet 48.360s 3.302s 7
38 Mark Thompson MBM Motorsports Ford 48.923s 3.865s 2
39 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 49.096s 4.038s 1

FP2 times

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 44.625s 18
2 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 44.632s 0.007s 13
3 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 44.641s 0.016s 20
4 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 44.673s 0.048s 24
5 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 44.764s 0.139s 15
6 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 44.770s 0.145s 14
7 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 44.915s 0.290s 10
8 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 44.949s 0.324s 21
9 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 45.056s 0.431s 12
10 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 45.116s 0.491s 11
11 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 45.153s 0.528s 18
12 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 45.153s 0.528s 15
13 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 45.166s 0.541s 13
14 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 45.357s 0.732s 10
15 Justin Marks Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 45.430s 0.805s 13
16 Danica Patrick Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 45.527s 0.902s 12
17 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 45.620s 0.995s 22
18 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 45.665s 1.040s 9
19 Brendan Gaughan Beard Motorsports Chevrolet 45.683s 1.058s 19
20 D.J. Kennington Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 45.753s 1.128s 5
21 Jeffrey Earnhardt StarCom Racing Chevrolet 45.850s 1.225s 12
22 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 45.909s 1.284s 18
23 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 45.918s 1.293s 18
24 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.272s 1.647s 6
25 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.284s 1.659s 1
26 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 46.347s 1.722s 7
27 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 46.371s 1.746s 9
28 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 46.433s 1.808s 7
29 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.433s 1.808s 1
30 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 46.441s 1.816s 4
31 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 46.630s 2.005s 15
32 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 46.652s 2.027s 8
33 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 46.725s 2.100s 3
34 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 46.760s 2.135s 8
35 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 47.294s 2.669s 7
36 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 47.302s 2.677s 8
37 David Gilliland RBR Enterprises Ford 47.752s 3.127s 12
38 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 49.062s 4.437s 8
39 Mark Thompson MBM Motorsports Ford 49.195s 4.570s 2
40 Gray Gaulding BK Racing Toyota 50.239s 5.614s 1



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