Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fastest in first Daytona 500 practice

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The Ford teams of Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports took the top four positions in Saturday morning’s opening practice for the 57th Daytona 500.

Roush driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the session with a lap of 202.643 mph in the No. 17 Fastenal Ford. Petty newcomer Sam Hornish Jr. was next at 202.193 mph.

Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was third for Roush with the same speed as Hornish. Fourth belonged to Petty’s Aric Almirola (201.979), who won at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400 last July.

The third Roush driver, veteran Greg Biffle, was sixth (201.762) just behind the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of defending 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (201.767).

With group qualifying for the 500 coming up tomorrow afternoon, top speeds took a noticeable jump as teams ran in line with multiple cars in addition to doing single-car runs by themselves.

Martin Truex Jr., driving the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, was the only entry that did not turn a lap in the first practice.

A second 500 practice will take place from 1:30-3:25 p.m. ET later today. Here’s the speed chart from Practice 1:

Daytona 500 Practice 1
Daytona International Speedway

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 202.643 mph … 19 laps run
2. Sam Hornish Jr., 202.193 … 20 laps
3. Trevor Bayne, 202.193 … 11 laps
4. Aric Almirola, 201.979 … 18 laps
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 201.767 … 29 laps
6. Greg Biffle, 201.762 … 11 laps
7. Denny Hamlin, 201.441 … 26 laps
8. David Gilliland, 200.642 … 15 laps
9. Danica Patrick, 200.356 … 31 laps
10. Carl Edwards, 200.312 … 24 laps
11. Kasey Kahne, 199.982 … 30 laps
12. Clint Bowyer, 199.663 … 18 laps (had best 10-consecutive lap average; 196.804, Laps 2-11)
13. Kevin Harvick, 199.146 … 28 laps
14. Justin Allgaier, 199.102 … 40 laps
15. Tony Stewart, 199.093 … 22 laps
16. Kurt Busch, 199.089 … 35 laps
17. Jamie McMurray, 199.031 … 24 laps
18. Michael Annett, 198.913 … 38 laps
19. Kyle Busch, 198.855 … 29 laps
20. Kyle Larson, 198.816 … 39 laps
21. Matt Kenseth, 198.570 … 24 laps
22. Austin Dillon, 198.509 … 26 laps
23. Paul Menard, 198.395 … 10 laps
24. Brian Scott, 198.382 … 10 laps
25. Ty Dillon, 198.330 … 5 laps
26. Ryan Newman, 198.277 … 5 laps
27. David Ragan, 198.220 … 16 laps
28. Michael McDowell, 198.129 … 22 laps
29. Ryan Blaney, 197.650 … 17 laps
30. Casey Mears, 197.546 … 17 laps
31. Joey Logano, 197.278 … 18 laps
32. Brad Keselowski, 197.256 … 25 laps
33. Justin Marks, 197.204 … 31 laps
34. Landon Cassill, 196.846 … 17 laps
35. Alex Bowman, 196.674 … 12 laps
36. Cole Whitt, 196.524 … 17 laps
37. A.J. Allmendinger, 195.997 … 16 laps
38. Mike Wallace, 195.874 … 5 laps
39. Jimmie Johnson, 194.839 … 28 laps
40. Jeff Gordon, 194.675 … 24 laps
41. Jeb Burton, 194.321 … 20 laps
42. Johnny Sauter, 194.263 … 7 laps
43. Michael Waltrip, 193.403 … 19 laps
44. J.J. Yeley, 191.738 … 13 laps
45. Bobby Labonte, 191.026 … 12 laps
46. Josh Wise, 189.390 … 3 laps
47. Ron Hornaday Jr. 189.290 … 11 laps
48. Reed Sorenson, 186.831 … 13 laps

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.