In the first practice session for the full field in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Ford showed their upperhand quickly.
Ford held seven of the top-10 positions with Joey Logano leading the way at the top of the chart with a speed of 193.116 mph. The highest Chevrolet was Kyle Larson, who was in the fourth position with a speed of 193.034 mph. The highest Toyota driver was Daniel Suarez, who was sixth fastest on the charts with a speed of 192.922 mph.
“Practice is really just practice. There’s really nothing to it there. We’ll just have to keep tuning it in to make sure we’re good in the races,” said Logano.
Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing struggled during the nearly four hour practice session. Jones was the last driver to clear inspection shortly after 2 p.m. EST.
Of the cars who will either qualify or race their way in in the Can-Am Duel, Brendan Gaughan was fastest at a speed of 189.625 mph.
All 42 entries for the Daytona 500 made a lap in the session. No drivers ran 10 consecutive laps as single file runs dominated the practice session for qualifying.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 will be on Motor Racing Network and FOX beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST on Sunday.
The lineup for the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona is set. Brad Keselowski will start on the pole in the 75-lap exhibition race. Denny Hamlin will start from the outside pole position.
Jamie McMurray will start third followed by Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Daniel Suarez, and Chris Buescher.
The field was set by a random draw behind the NASCAR hauler shortly after 3:30 p.m. EST.
The Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona kicks off the season. The race will be live on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 18th.
After his abrupt departure from Roush-Fenway Racing, Greg Biffle has a new gig. The gig is not in a car, but on television.
Biffle will join NASCAR on NBC’s “NASCAR America” beginning on March 1st. Biffle will be a recurring guest on the program.
Biffle made the announcement on social media:
Biffle competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 15 years. He had a career total of 19 wins, 92 top-fives, 175 top-10's, and 13 poles. Biffle only had four "did not finishes" throughout his career.
The first official “race” of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins with the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. This is the 39th running of the Clash.
17 drivers are scheduled to compete with new names like Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez.
Drivers who are eligible to compete in the Clash are 2016 MENCS Pole winners, former winners of the Clash, former Daytona 500 pole winners, and 2016 Playoff drivers.
Suarez was able to participate in the Clash due to the sudden departure of Carl Edwards. NASCAR will allow Suarez to participate because Joe Gibbs Racing has already being in advanced stages of preparing the car and having sponsorship.
Bowman will drive the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet because Dale Earnhardt Jr. determined that Bowman should have the opportunity because he won the pole at Phoenix late last season.
The Advanced Auto Parts Clash will be a 75-lap feature with competition caution at lap-25 to separate the segments.
Bowman, Chris Buescher, and Suarez will be making their “Clash” debuts.
“The biggest thing for me racing in the Clash this weekend is going to be just getting the feel of the car and learning my crew chief,” Buescher said. “This is a big race, not in points, but because it’s the first time the No. 37 team is all going to be on track together. That’s the one learning curve we haven’t been able to test yet, but I’m really looking forward to getting back in the racecar and using The Clash as a learning tool for the Daytona 500,” said Buescher.
“It’s going to be really nice to be able to get back to the grind and have Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) behind the wheel for us again. It’s almost kind of like getting a rookie back, somebody who’s really intense and really wanting to just get back behind the wheel. I know that’s re-energized and rejuvenated a lot of the guys on the team -- especially myself,” said Bowman.
Qualifying for the Clash will be based on a random draw. There will be two practice sessions for the race on February 17th at 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.
The marriage between Danica Patrick and Nature’s Bakery, Patrick’s primary sponsor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has been terminated. Stewart-Haas Racing has filed suit against Nature’s Bakery. Patrick was a great fit due to her promoting healthier living and clean eating.
As first reported by the Associated Press, the $31.7 million breach of contract lawsuit accuses Nature’s Bakery of refusing to pay millions in missed payments to Stewart-Haas.
Nature’s Bakery was entering their second year of three of sponsorship with Patrick and Stewart-Haas. They were scheduled as primary sponsor for 20 races.
According to the suit, Stewart-Haas Racing raised concerns about the Nature’s Bakery sponsorship in 2016 with how they would pay the $15.2 million/year in sponsorship. Despite the concerns, Nature’s Bakery insisted that they would be able to make the payments, and Stewart-Haas accepted the deal. Shortly after the deal was announced, cash flow issues plagued Nature’s Bakery resulting if they could rework the payment schedule, but they continued to miss payments.
The suit also claims that Patrick’s use of social media in promoting “rival” products such as food and protein powders, that were liked by the Nature’s Bakery Instagram account. Nature’s Bakery claimed that Patrick was not promoting their own products enough. The issues were not apparent until Nature’s Bakery began to miss payments.
Stewart-Haas received a letter from Nature’s Bakery in December acknowledging their grievances with Patrick and stating a process of transitioning out of the sponsorship role. The letter “shocked” executives because the team was well underway with preparations for 2017. On January 19, the contract was terminated by Nature’s Bakery.
The first signs of issues with Patrick and Nature’s Bakery came at NASCAR Media Tour when she was wearing a TaxAct firesuit. TaxAct is the primary sponsor for only three races. At that time, executives from Stewart-Haas acknowledged that they were in discussions with Nature’s Bakery, but provided no further information.
Stewart-Haas released a statement acknowledging the situation:
“Nature’s Bakery is in material breach of its contract with Stewart-Haas Racing. It is an unfortunate situation, as the team has delivered on all aspects of its contract and was prepared to do so again in 2017. Ultimately, this is a situation that will be resolved in a court of law.
Stewart-Haas Racing remains focused on its preparation for the 2017 NASCAR season where it will again field four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while also introducing a full-time NASCAR XFNITY Series team. The litigation with Nature’s Bakery will not impact the organization’s on-track efforts.”
Patrick is not the only one with sponsorship woes. Clint Bowyer also is seeking a primary sponsor. Mobil 1 is the primary sponsor of Bowyer’s car for only a select few races in 2017, but other sponsorship for Bowyer is still unknown.