Having previously won the Daytona 500 in 2010 and the Coke Zero 400 in 2007, Jamie McMurray knows his way around Daytona International Speedway pretty well.
That’s why it’s no surprise McMurray was the fastest in the first of two practice sessions Thursday in preparation for Friday’s qualifying and then Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup main event.
(Updated) The second practice session was cancelled due to rain and thunderstorms in the DIS area.
And oh, did McMurray fly around the 2.5-mile, high-banked track, recording a field-best speed of 201.952 mph, followed by Sprint Cup rookie and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson, who was second-fastest at 201.889 mph.
Third- through fifth-fastest were Clint Bowyer (201.839), Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski (201.771) and Jeff Gordon (201.712).
Sixth through 10th were Joey Logano (201.654), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (201.590), Greg Biffle (201.261), Landon Cassill (200.714) and Martin Truex Jr. (200.696).
All told, 18 drivers exceed the 200 mph mark.
Among more notable performances:
* Danica Patrick was 15th fastest (200.405 mph), followed by Kyle Busch (200.356).
* Kurt Busch was 23rd fastest (199.238 mph), followed closely by 2014 winless drivers Matt Kenseth (199.137), Tony Stewart (199.089) and Kasey Kahne (198.965).
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled to a 32nd fastest speed of 198.247 mph, while teammate Jimmie Johnson was the third-slowest in the entire field, unable to turn a lap faster than 191.274 mph, more than 10 mph slower than McMurray’s pace-setting lap.
* Michael Waltrip was 43rd fastest of 44 (191.010 mph), while two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte recorded the slowest speed at 190.678 mph.
With the second practice session cancelled, qualifying will take place at 5:10 pm ET on Friday afternoon — weather permitting, of course.
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