With some help from his father and former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott, JR Motorsports newcomer Chase Elliott (pictured) shot to the top in the first day of NASCAR Nationwide Series Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona.
18-year-old Chase, one of multiple first-time winners in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year, led a 1-2-3 finish atop the speed charts for JRM with a lap at 187.993 mph – just ahead of “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” and his best lap at 187.974 mph. Regan Smith completed JRM’s trifecta with his lap at 187.950 mph.
Drafting had a bigger presence in today’s first day of Nationwide testing, as opposed to yesterday’s Sprint Cup sessions. However, while packs were prevalent, teams were not allowed to utilize two-car, tandem drafting – with Elliott Sadler telling NASCAR.com’s Kenny Bruce that violating the edict would draw a black flag.
Ty Dillon, taking over the Richard Childress Racing ride that used to belong to his older brother and Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon, was fourth-fastest with his hot lap at 187.805 mph. He also ran the most laps this afternoon with 76. Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne (187.743 mph) rounded out the Top 5, leading the Fords.
This morning’s leader, Dylan Kwasniewski, was ninth-quickest in the afternoon (187.064 mph), one spot behind Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (187.243). David Ragan, who will drive in the NNS’ season opener at Daytona for Biagi-DenBeste Racing was sixth (187.512), with Chris Buescher (seventh, 187.398) and Jamie Dick (10th, 186.962) completing the Top 10 speeds.
A second day of testing for the NNS at Daytona will begin tomorrow at 9 a.m ET.
NATIONWIDE PRESEASON THUNDER – SATURDAY AFTERNOON TIMES
The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.
“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.
“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”
Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.
He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.
The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.
“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.
“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”
Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.
A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.