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Friday February 26th, 2021 1:43AM

Wallace sends Jordan to top of scoring pylon in Daytona 500 practice

By Dan Gelston - AP Sports Writer
  Contact Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bubba Wallace sent Michael Jordan to the top of scoring pylon in the first Daytona 500 practice session for their new team and the first overall for NASCAR in more than 300 days.

Wallace was selected as the driver in the first season of a new team that brought Jordan into NASCAR as a team owner. Wallace was fastest in the field Wednesday and surely impressed his new owner -- once they meet for the first time.

“He’ll be here Thursday, so I’ll get to have the first one-on-one conversation with him, just to pick his brain, to learn more about him,” Wallace said. “We all got to see a little bit of his taste and his character in ‘The Last Dance.’ Very competitive, I’m going to say that.”

Wallace hit 199.747 mph in the No. 23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, perhaps a promising sign he could be a force in the Daytona 500. NASCAR sets the front row for the Daytona 500 in Wednesday night’s qualifying session.

Jordan joined with NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin to form the new team with Wallace, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level. Jordan is the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973.

Jordan and Hamlin purchased a charter for their team from Germain Racing that guarantees Wallace a spot in the 40-car Cup Series field every week.

NASCAR hit the track for practice for the first time in 341 days since a 55-minute session on March 6, 2020, at Phoenix Raceway. The pandemic forced NASCAR to streamline its schedule and most races were turned into one-day events. That continues in 2021 with only Daytona and seven other race weekends -- mostly new tracks and championship weekend -- having scheduled practice sessions.

Wallace had a tumultuous 2020 as he became NASCAR’s face for racial justice and change. He successfully pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its events and with it came a wave of backlash from some fans. Wallace weathered it as best as he could — even when NASCAR brought in the FBI to investigate a garage door pull in his stall at Talladega that had been fashioned into a noose months earlier — and it ultimately led to a millions in new sponsorship dollars that gave Wallace the funding to help get 23XI Racing off the ground.

The 27-year-old Wallace is winless in 112 career Cup starts, all with Richard Petty Motorsports. His runner-up finish in the 2018 Daytona 500 was the best finish by a Black driver in the race.

“I had a little bit of trouble falling asleep last night, just from the nerves of climbing in,” Wallace said. “I know it’s just practice and qualifying today. But still. New beginnings here. New opportunities I’m excited to take on and see how we can make this team better.”

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell rounded out an all Toyota sweep of the top five practice speeds. 
 
FOX Sports commentator Jamie McMurray, back from retirement for a one-off in Sunday's Daytona 500, was sixth fastest, with Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman and Cole Custer rounding out the top 10. 
 
Erik Jones, in his first outing on the Daytona oval for Richard Petty Motorsports, was 11th quick.

 

Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott timed in at 29th fastest with a lap at 188.758 mph.

WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of Thursday night's NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel At Daytona from the Daytona International Speedway beginning at 6 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

NASCAR Cup Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona 500 – February 10, 2021

Wednesday’s Practice Results

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed Lap # # Laps -Fastest -Next
1. 23 Bubba Wallace DoorDash Toyota 45.057 199.747 4 20 —.— —.—
2. 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 45.069 199.694 4 19 -0.012 -0.012
3. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota 45.070 199.689 4 20 -0.013 -0.001
4. 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota 45.084 199.627 4 19 -0.027 -0.014
5. 20 Christopher Bell DEWALT Toyota 45.085 199.623 4 22 -0.028 -0.001
6. 77 Jamie McMurray AdventHealth Chevrolet 45.145 199.358 8 13 -0.088 -0.060
7. 7 Corey LaJoie Youtheory Chevrolet 45.190 199.159 8 12 -0.133 -0.045
8. 34 Michael McDowell Love’s Travel Stops Ford 45.236 198.957 8 14 -0.179 -0.046
9. 6 Ryan Newman Kohler Generators Ford 45.307 198.645 4 11 -0.250 -0.071
10. 41 Cole Custer HaasTooling.com Ford 45.387 198.295 5 15 -0.330 -0.080
11. 43 Erik Jones Armor All Chevrolet 45.413 198.181 3 8 -0.356 -0.026
12. 21 Matt DiBenedetto Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford 45.427 198.120 5 11 -0.370 -0.014
13. 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 45.489 197.850 5 13 -0.432 -0.062
14. 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford 45.498 197.811 5 9 -0.441 -0.009
15. 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light #TheCrew Ford 45.500 197.802 5 13-0.443 -0.002
16. 14 Chase Briscoe # HighPoint.com Ford 45.516 197.733 5 15 -0.459 -0.016
17. 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 45.580 197.455 4 9 -0.523 -0.064
18. 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 46.237 194.649 4 12 -1.180 -0.657
19. *37 Ryan Preece Cottonelle Chevrolet 46.256 194.569 2 11 -1.199 -0.019
20. 38 Anthony Alfredo # Speedy Cash Ford 46.373 194.078 5 10 -1.316 -0.117
21. 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kroger/NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet 46.897 191.910 1 6 -1.840 -0.524
22. 5 Kyle Larson Nations Guard Chevrolet 47.279 190.359 5 13 -2.222 -0.382
23. 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet 47.465 189.613 6 8 -2.408 -0.186
24. 2 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Ford 47.489 189.518 1 5 -2.432 -0.024
25. 99 Daniel Suarez iFly Chevrolet 47.575 189.175 2 11 -2.518 -0.086
26. 24 William Byron Axalta Chevrolet 47.599 189.080 8 8 -2.542 -0.024
27. 1 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 47.602 189.068 2 12 -2.545 -0.003
28. *96 Ty Dillon(i) Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Toyota 47.611 189.032 1 6 -2.554 -0.009
29. 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 47.680 188.758 3 11 -2.623 -0.069
30. *16 Kaz Grala Hyper Ice Chevrolet 47.781 188.359 1 1 -2.724 -0.101
31. *36 David Ragan Select Blinds Ford 47.803 188.273 2 5 -2.746 -0.022
32. *33 Austin Cindric(i) Verizon 5G Ford 47.828 188.174 7 7 -2.771 -0.025
33. 8 Tyler Reddick Lenovo Chevrolet 47.944 187.719 12 12 -2.887 -0.116
34. 42 Ross Chastain Clover Chevrolet 47.981 187.574 2 10 -2.924 -0.037
35. 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford 48.010 187.461 1 8-2.953 -0.029
36. *62 Noah Gragson(i) Beard Motorsports/South Point Chevrolet 48.318 186.266 44 -3.261 -0.308
37. *13 Garrett Smithley(i) Trophy Tractor Ford 48.350 186.143 2 4 -3.293 -0.032
38. *66 Timmy Hill(i) VSI Racing Ford 48.352 186.135 2 5 -3.295 -0.002
39. 00 Quin Houff Mane ‘n Tail Chevrolet 48.370 186.066 2 4 -3.313 -0.018
40. 15 Derrike Cope Jacob Companies Chevrolet 48.817 184.362 7 9 -3.760 -0.447
41. 78 BJ McLeod(i) NASCAR Heats Ford 50.160 179.426 5 5 -5.103 -1.343
42. 53 Joey Gase Page Construction Ford 50.201 179.279 5 5 -5.144 -0.041
43. 52 Josh Bilicki Wisconsin Lighting Lab Ford 50.736 177.389 3 3 -5.679 -0.535
44. 51 Cody Ware Nurtec ODT Chevrolet 50.821 177.092 2 2 -5.764 -0.085

* Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Best 10 Consecutive Lap Average
Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed
1. 23 Bubba Wallace 2 11 198.131
2. 19 Martin Truex Jr. 2 11 198.117
3. 11 Denny Hamlin 2 11 198.105
4. 18 Kyle Busch 2 11 197.919
5. 20 Christopher Bell 2 11 197.912
6. 34 Michael McDowell 2 11 196.446
7. 41 Cole Custer 2 11 196.309
8. 10 Aric Almirola 2 11 195.785
9. 14 Chase Briscoe # 1 10 195.657
10. 4 Kevin Harvick 1 10 195.648
11. 77 Jamie McMurray 2 11 194.732

* Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart.

* Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

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