Kurt Busch fastest in final Daytona 500 practice session

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Over a third of the field for Sunday’s Daytona 500 decided to forego Saturday’s final practice for the Great American Race.

Only 27 cars took to Daytona International Speedway for the 1 ½ hour session.

Kurt Busch was the fastest driver, turning in a top speed of 197.624 mph, one of six drivers to crack the 197 mph mark.

Kasey Kahne (197.490), Jamie McMurray (197.472), Carl Edwards (197.070) and Martin Truex Jr. (197.057) rounded out the top five fastest drivers.

Truex’s speed was notable in that he had to go with a backup car after wrecking at the end of the second Budweiser Duel on Thursday.

“I was definitely relieved to get some time in the car,” Truex said. “Honestly, I am really excited about this race car. Without a shadow of a doubt this car is better than the one we ran the other night in the qualifying race. The Furniture Row guys did another good job. I even hate to call this car a backup because of how good it felt.”

Slowest was Parker Kligerman, who virtually crawled, over 10 mph slower than the leaders, at 187.025 mph.

All four Richard Childress Racing cars were conspicuous by their absence in Saturday’s practice, including pole-sitter Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and Brian Scott.

Others missing were: Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Gilliland, Landon Cassell, Cole Whitt, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III