Kurt Busch fastest in final Daytona 500 practice session

Leave a comment

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.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR 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 would seem right for 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 — to spend 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).