DAYTONA BEACH — Inclement weather washed out much of Sprint Cup practice Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
The most laps any driver turned during the first of two practice sessions were 26, and the second one was canceled because of heavy rain.
"We stayed out on the track until almost the end and there was a big lightning bolt out there in Turn 1, and that was a pretty neat picture out of the window there," Carl Edwards said.
Bad weather is fairly typical for the July race at Daytona, and teams seemed prepared for it.
The shortened practice had high speeds and tight-knit drafting, which Edwards said was because drivers knew the starting grid for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 would be determined by practice speeds if other sessions and qualifying get rained out today. "If we do get to qualify, it is going to be crazy," he said. "It is going to be interesting. You saw a glimpse of it there a minute ago with everyone pacing around and not wanting to be the rabbit out there. At the end of the day, this is what this new Chase format was made for, a race like this in the middle of the summer with guys that have to win and guys like myself with nothing to lose."
PACESETTERS: The two cars from Chip Ganassi Racing led the field. Jamie McMurray turned a lap at 201.954 mph, and rookie Kyle Larson was second at 201.889. Six others eclipsed 201 mph: Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse and Greg Biffle.
CHAMPS HONORED: Brian Vickers is bringing national champion Florida State along for a ride. His No. 55 Toyota will feature a paint scheme honoring the college football champions. "It's always good to have the home state, at least where I live, on the car," said Vickers, who lives in South Florida. "It always bodes well for the fan interaction. We usually get some pretty great cheers out of it. It's cool. What this team accomplished is no small feat, and the task we have ahead of us is no small feat. Putting this car in Victory Lane would be huge to the FSU fans, but also to this (team). A win at Daytona would be huge."