Friday, February 14, 2014

Hamlin and Earnhardt Jr. fastest in Friday's Sprint Unlimited practices

New SHR teammates Harvick and Busch getting acclimated in practice
Denny Hamlin got the NASCAR Nation pumped for speed on the opening day of Daytona Speedweeks by laying down the fastest lap of Friday’s two Sprint Unlimited practice sessions. His lap at 199.867 mph was the fastest among three to top 199 mph in the final session where temperatures were much cooler than the days first session, and more similar to the climate drivers will see when the green flag drops for Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the fastest during the first session with a lap at 198.421 mph, which he captured while running in the draft on the 20th of his 30 laps run in the session. Kyle Busch was second fastest in the session, followed by new Stewart-Haas teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.

A total of 18 drivers practiced in the early practice while only 15 participated in the final session, with Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth not wanting any opportunity to wreck their primary car before the actual race starts.

These practices mean very little, except for giving an indication that the SHR plate programs look to be pretty good and assuring what we already knew that the Hendrick and Gibbs programs are going to be good like they were last season. Most of all, it's just awesome to see the cars lined up again, roaring and ready for action.

The only impression changed somewhat for me based on the practice is that Kurt Busch could be more of a player than I anticipated right out of the gate. He still remains the best plate race driver to never win a points-paying plate race. However, he did win the 2011 Sprint Unlimited. During the practices, three-time Unlimited winner Harvick and Busch hooked up nicely as if they've been teammates for years.

Sprint Unlimited Practice 1 Speeds - Dale Jr Fastest

Sprint Unlimited Practice 2 Speeds - Hamlin Fastest

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