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Active full-time Cup drivers who have won the Daytona 500

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The collective retirements of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and the “stepping away” of Carl Edwards took a chunk out of the active wins list for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

But only Gordon’s departure impacted the number of full-time drivers who have won the Daytona 500.

In his 24-year career, Gordon won three editions of the “Great American Race,” the last coming in 2005.

Entering the 2017 season, nine drivers in the Cup garage can boast victories in the biggest race of the year. Only three of those can brag even more about winning it multiple times.

Here’s a look at the nine full-time drivers who have triumphed in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004, 2014)

With Gordon’s retirement, it made Earnhardt the driver with the earliest victory in the Daytona 500. It came six years after his father’s only win in the race in 1998.

Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013)

A year after Gordon’s final 500 win, Jimmie Johnson began his first championship campaign with his first Daytona 500 victory. It gave Hendrick Motorsports its sixth win in the season opener, 20 years after Geoffrey Bodine earned the first in 1986.

Kevin Harvick (2007)

Harvick’s only Daytona 500 victory is one of the most exciting in recent memory and it came at the expense of NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin, who never won the event. In a green-white-checkered finish, Harvick edged Martin by .020 seconds as an enormous wreck unfolded behind them.

Ryan Newman (2008)

It took a last-lap pass of Tony Stewart for Ryan Newman to give Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win as a NASCAR owner. Newman did what drivers like Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Allison and Kurt Busch couldn’t in the previous 36 years. It was made sweeter by Newman and Busch giving Penske a 1-2 finish.

Matt Kenseth (2009, 2012)

A year after Team Penske’s big win, Matt Kenseth gave Roush Fenway Racing its first victory in the Daytona 500 in its 21st attempt. The race was called due to rain after 152 laps. Kenseth would add to it three years later with another win. Kenseth remains the only Roush driver to ever win the Daytona 500.

 

Jamie McMurray (2010)

To start the most successful season of his career, Jamie McMurray got going by only leading the last two laps and outrunning Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a green-white-checkered finish. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver would claim the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race for a career-high three wins. McMurray’s win remains the only victory by Ganassi in the Daytona 500.

Trevor Bayne (2011)

When the green flag dropped for the last time on the 2011 Daytona 500, the top four drivers – Bayne, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte – all had one thing in common: they’d never won the Daytona 500. Two laps later, Stewart and Martin were nowhere to be seen and Labonte was in fourth, watching Bayne win his first Cup series race in just his second start. In his 128 starts since his upset, it remains his only Cup series win.

Joey Logano (2015)

After four straight years of repeat winners in the Daytona 500, Joey Logano pulled out a win in his seventh start in the race. It gave Team Penske its second Daytona 500 win.

Denny Hamlin (2016)

With a surge down the backstretch, a dramatic pass of his teammate Matt Kenseth in Turn 4 and photo-finish with Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin gave Joe Gibbs Racing its first Daytona 500 win since 1993. Dale Jarrett gave JGR its first Cup win that year. Hamlin’s victory came in his 11th start in the race.

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Ryan Preece is fastest in final Xfinity practice Friday at Kentucky

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Ryan Preece soared to the top of the speed chart in the final Xfinity practice Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Preece covered the 1.5-mile oval with a top speed of 181.629 mph. He hit that speed on his first of 38 laps run during the session.

Justin Allgaier was second (180.777 mph), followed by Spencer Gallagher Jr. (180.114), Tyler Reddick (179.832) and Daniel Hemric (179.712).

Sixth through 10th: Matt Tifft (179.665), who was fastest in the first practice session earlier in the afternoon, William Byron (179.605), Brennan Poole (179.581), Sam Hornish Jr. (179.521) and Brandon Jones (179.521).

Five of the 12 Xfinity playoff contenders ended up in the top 10: Allgaier, Hemric, Tifft, Byron and Poole.

Others playoff contenders on the speed chart were Elliott Sadler (12th, 179.194), Ryan Reed (16th, 178.944), Cole Custer (17th, 178.838), Brendan Gaughan (19th, 178.453), Blake Koch (20th, 178.159), Michael Annett (21st, 178.124) and Jeremy Clements (25th, 176. 286).

Qualifying for Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 takes place at 5:30 p.m. ET, with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. ET.

Click here for the full speed chart from the final Xfinity practice.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 NASCAR Cup race at Loudon

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Up until this season, Kyle Busch wasn’t necessarily looked upon as a prolific qualifier.

He earned a career-best three poles in 2013 and 2014.

But that’s nothing compared to 2017, as Busch earned a career-best eighth pole Friday for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It’s also his second consecutive pole, having won the pole for last weekend’s playoff-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle Larson was next and will join Busch on the front row Sunday.

As for the other 14 NASCAR Cup playoff contenders: Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12 qualifiers, 11 are playoff drivers. The only non-playoff driver was Erik Jones (eighth, 133.971).

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Click here for the starting lineup.

 

Kyle Busch gets past Kyle Larson to take Cup pole at Loudon

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In a battle between Kyle and Kyle, it was Kyle Busch who emerged with the pole for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The younger Busch brother was the only driver over 135 mph, taking his 27th career Cup pole with a speed of 135.049 mph.

“Just went out there and gave it what she had,” Busch told NBCSN. “It certainly would be great to finish this out in victory lane on Sunday.

“We knew we were going to have a shot for the pole, just didn’t know if we were going to get it. For as ugly as that session looked or felt from my vantage point, it certainly worked out.”

Busch has now won the pole for the first two playoff races, having won the pole last week at Chicagoland.

What’s more, this is the most prolific season of qualifying for Busch in his career: this is his eighth pole in 2017, most of all drivers in the Cup series and his most in a single season. His previous mark for most poles in a single season was three in both 2013 and 2014.

As for the other Kyle, Kyle Larson, he qualified on the outside of the front row with an effort of 134.911 mph.

“I feel overall that my lap was pretty good,” said Larson, who finished second in the July race at New Hampshire. “The 18 has been real fast, especially in qualifying all year. For us to be second to him is not bad.”

Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Erik Jones (133.971), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12, 11 are in the NASCAR Cup playoffs. The only non-playoff driver was Jones.

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Elliott and Johnson both wrecked their primary cars in the Cup practice session earlier in the day.

While Johnson was able to get back on-track for that practice session with his back-up car, Elliott qualified cold with his back-up, unable to get back on-track during the morning practice.

Joey Logano did not take a qualifying lap after failing pre-qualifying inspection four times. Logano will start last (40th position) in Sunday’s race at NHMS, which he considers his “home track.”

Click here for the full qualifying grid.

Matt Tifft fastest in first of 2 Xfinity practices at Kentucky Speedway

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Matt Tifft ran 25 laps during Friday afternoon’s first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practice sessions at Kentucky Speedway.

But it was just one lap that mattered the most, as Tifft (180.427 mph) emerged from the 55-minute practice as the fastest in the 36 cars that took to the track.

Brian Scott was second (179.253 mph), followed by Ryan Preece (178.465), Brandon Jones (178.288), Justin Allgaier (178.271), Ben Kennedy (178.136), Elliott Sadler (177.573), Tyler Reddick (177.544), Spencer Gallagher Jr. (177.503) and Brennan Poole (177.381).

Interestingly enough, only four of the top-10 were playoff contenders. The seven-race Xfinity playoffs begin with Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.

There will be one more practice session today from 6:30-7:25 p.m. ET.

Qualifying and the race are Saturday.

Click here for the full practice speed grid.