NNS: Chase Elliott logs fastest lap, leads 1-2-3 for JR Motorsports

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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

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).