Wednesday’s two practice sessions for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 served up the magic number for stock car fans: 200.
As in 200 mph, on the 2.5-mile high-banked Daytona International Speedway tri-oval. Michael McDowell (No. 59 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet) led the first of two sessions Wednesday, with a fast lap of 200.173 mph. The second session was led by Brian Scott (No. 44 Albertsons Co./Shore Lodge Ford) at 199.800.
Next up for Speedweeks 2016: the Thursday night (7 p.m. ET) Can-Am Duel, – two 150-mile qualifying races that establish positions 3-40 on the DAYTONA 500 starting grid. The Can-Am Duel grids are based on this past Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger results. Qualifying “locked in” rookie Chase Elliott and two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Matt Kenseth for the front row of the DAYTONA 500. They also will start on the respective poles for the two Can-Am Duel races.
Wednesday was especially encouraging for McDowell. He is part of a small group of drivers who do not have one of the 36 guaranteed starting spots in the DAYTONA 500 field. McDowell will be in the first Can-Am Duel race and must finish ahead of Josh Wise and Cole Whitt to make the field.
“It was a good practice,” McDowell said. “There wasn’t a big group out there, about 10-15 cars but here at Daytona it’s all about timing the run and having the right cars with you [in the draft].
“We have to race our way in [to the DAYTONA 500] … it’s good, the car’s got speed. Hopefully we can get into the show.”
In addition to the on-track action Wednesday, several thousand fans attended a free afternoon “Open House” that provided a first-hand look at the speedway’s completed DAYTONA Rising renovation project that has produced the world’s first true motorsports stadium.
“The response we got from our fans and the community overall for the Open House was exciting but not unexpected,” said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. “Interest – and support – has been strong throughout the renovation. Now, we all are sharing in the satisfaction of bringing the project to life. This final weekend of Speedweeks 2016 will be something to remember.”
Tickets for all Speedweeks 2016 events – including the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, the season-opening race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – can be purchased on-line at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for the latest speedway news throughout the season.