Cup testing at Daytona to go non-stop until 9 p.m. ET tonight

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A short while ago, NASCAR announced that a scheduled 30-minute break during today’s Sprint Cup Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway has been scratched, meaning teams will test continuously up to 9 p.m. ET tonight.

After morning rains forced an alteration to the original Friday schedule, it was announced that teams would run until 4:30 p.m. ET and then get back to work at 5 p.m. for a four-hour block of track time. However, that’s no longer the case.

Teams were initially scheduled to begin today at 9 a.m. ET. Finally, a little after 12:30 p.m. ET today, cars were given the go-ahead to take to the 2.5-mile oval.

A long night is ahead but as of this report, Richard Childress Racing rookie Austin Dillon leads the way with a lap at 192.930 miles per hour in the No. 3 Chevrolet. One of Dillon’s teammates, Brian Scott, lies third at 192.258 mph, with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in between at P2 (192.765 mph).

Former Sprint Cup champion and current NASCAR TV analyst Rusty Wallace (pictured) has made several runs today in Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford. According to MRN’s Dustin Long, Wallace turned a quick lap of 190.937 mph in his second run, which was good for the seventh-fastest time of the day at that point.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force qualifies 15th with no motor explosion, says ‘I need to race smart’ Sunday

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There’s good news and bad news for John Force fans.

The good news is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ did not suffer yet another motor explosion after enduring his third in three races during Friday’s qualifying session at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

In fact, Force intentionally feathered the gas pedal on his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to make sure it wasn’t again overtaxed, qualifying 15th with a run of 4.281 seconds at 222.88 mph.

Now for the bad news.

When Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET, Force will be matched against daughter and No. 2 qualifier, Courtney Force (3.914 seconds at 332.18 mph).

“It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round,” Courtney Force said of her father. “Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win.”

Courtney Force is seeking her second consecutive win, having also won two weeks ago at the second national event of the season in suburban Phoenix.

“I want to have a good side-by-side safe race tomorrow in round one,” Force said. “Our goal is to take my dad down and have a long day at the track winning rounds.

“We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”

But don’t count out dear old dad, an eight-time Funny Car winner at Gainesville.

“I am the kind of guy that, when it is qualifying day, I run it to the edge.,” John Force said. “I run it even if I know it will hurt itself.

“(With his three motor explosions this season) I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say I have to win this race or I have to qualify low after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. … We want to fix this problem and move on.

“Tomorrow I am going to have to play the odds game. I am going to run it to 700 or 800 feet and hope (Courtney) gets in trouble. I need to race smart.”

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