RPM Drivers Practice Session Results
21. AJ Allmendinger, 186.749 mph, 48.193, 2 laps
31. Paul Menard, 186.254 mph, 48.321, 2 laps
38. Elliott Sadler, 185.647 mph, 48.479, 2 laps
40. Kasey Kahne, 185.387 mph, 48.547, 2 laps
Rain played havoc with NASCAR again, as the first on-track activity for the 2010 season was cut short when the skies opened up. Single car qualifying practice runs were in progress when the red flag was displayed, with most teams only getting in one run each. After first practice was called complete, the precipitation became even heavier and second practice was also canceled as well as the final ARCA practice that was also scheduled.
Since some teams were still going through the inspection process and didn’t make it out on the track to at least shake down their cars, NASCAR is holding a 30 minute practice session Saturday morning for those eight teams to make one run. Otherwise, the teams will hit the track at 1:00 pm/et for Daytona 500 qualifying with very little idea of how their car will do.
Fortunately, qualifying for the Daytona 500 means very little as this race has a unique format for lining up the field. Only the top two positions will be set during Saturday’s qualifying session. The remaining 41 cars will be lined up based on how they finish in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel races. For the unfortunate teams that are starting the year outside the top 35 in owner’s points, four cars can be locked into the Daytona 500 based on their qualifying speeds in Saturday’s session, regardless of what happens in the Duel races. The others must race their way in on Thursday, in what should be some exciting racing action.
For Richard Petty Motorsports, Friday’s practice session marked the first time that the entire team was driving Ford branded stock cars. As reported on the television, the Ford teams are running the new Ford engine in the preliminary Daytona events – practice, qualifying, and the Duel races – and then will switch to the old engine in preparation for the 500. While great things were expected from the new engine practice speeds seemed to indicate that it isn’t as strong on the restrictor plate track as the old engine. Other than Bill Elliott in the go or go home entry for the Wood Brothers, who is possibly running the old engine, AJ Allmendinger was the fastest Ford driver in practice at 21st position.
Regardless of whether or not they have the horsepower to win the pole, it will still be great to see the Richard Petty Motorsports drivers out on the track Saturday. The four drivers are spread out in the qualifying order with Kasey Kahne going out 5th, Paul Menard 22nd, Elliott Sadler 28th, and AJ Allmendinger will be the last locked in driver to go out in the 35th spot.