Michael McDowell, the defending Daytona 500 winner, was the fastest of the 35 drivers that took part in the Friday afternoon session.

Friday provided another opportunity for teams and drivers to fine-tune their cars in preparation for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Teams are focusing on drafting and race day settings now that qualifying, the Duels, and the starting lineup for the 64th Great American Race are all established.

Late in the practice, McDowell and Todd Gilliland both from Front Row Motorsports were drafting when McDowell set the fastest average lap speed of 192.678 mph. In the second qualifying race on Thursday night, McDowell came in second.

Todd Gilliland came in second (192.361 mph) (192.274 mph) as David Ragan trailed him in third. Chris Buescher, who won the second qualifying race on Thursday night, finished fourth, while his RFK Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, finished fifth.

Cody Ware, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, Aric Almirola, and Noah Gragson rounded out the top ten average speeds.

Ford once again dominated the session, with 10 of the top 12 cars being powered by the blue oval. The manufacturer claimed the top five positions in the first practice, the top ten positions in the second practice, the first four positions in the first Duel race, and the top three positions in the second Duel race.

Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, and William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports had a hard drafting session early on, with some close calls as the last two Cup Series champions sought to push each other around the 2.5-mile oval. In Sunday’s race, Larson and Bowman will start from the top row.

Early in the race, Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon came dangerously close to colliding with one other. Reddick performed a spectacular save that saved a number of automobiles from being wrecked.

Early in the practice, Toyota drivers had a drafting session. The two-car 23XI Racing squad of Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace joined the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr, and Christopher Bell. During the FS1 broadcast, Wallace stated that their team was finished with practice and that they will forgo the final practice session tomorrow morning.

Earlier in the day, Team Penske was hard at work preparing Joey Logano’s car for practice. The crew elected to use the backup car instead of the No. 22 Ford since it was damaged beyond repair.

After the practice, NASCAR stated that the wheels utilized by Team Penske and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in Daytona were seized by competition officials. The components will be returned to the R&D Center for further examination. Any possible sanctions would be decided at a later time.

The final practice session will be place tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. ET. That will be the last chance for teams and drivers to fine-tune their cars before Sunday’s race.

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