Menard leads first two hours of Daytona 500 practice


The first two hours of single-car runs are in the books for Daytona 500 practice, and Richard Childress Racing dominated the timesheets in the first official session of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Paul Menard was quickest as four of the top five drivers were from the RCR camp. The Wisconsin native turned a flier of 195.042, with Ryan Newman second in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, and youngsters Austin Dillon and Brian Scott fourth and fifth.

Two-time Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth was the lone interloper in the top five in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, at 194.561.

Martin Truex Jr. was sixth in the Furniture Row Chevrolet, ahead of four Fords, driven by Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne.

2013 Daytona 500 polesitter Danica Patrick was 19th; six-time series champ and defending ‘500 race winner Jimmie Johnson was 29th.

The second two-hour practice session occurs at 1:30 p.m. ET.

VIEW: Practice 1 Times

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.