By admin | February 5, 2010
By Richard Allen
From the department of giving credit where credit is due, NASCAR made a good and fair decision by allowing those teams who did not get to practice on Friday due to the weather to have some track time on Saturday morning before Daytona 500 qualifying.
While some might argue that the track was open and every team had ample opportunity to get out there, the truth of the matter is jumping ahead of others in the line would have violated a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. The teams who were shut out of practice were those who were last to get through the technical inspection line, meaning they were teams who had the fewest points from last season. There are few household names among these drivers and no heavily sponsored efforts. And more, these teams often depend on getting hand-me-down parts from bigger teams. To jump ahead of those teams in a practice line might harm a relationship needed for the future.
A look at the top of the speed chart from Friday’s practice shows Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the very top. That ought to be pleasing to many fans. And although there are no rewards for ‘winning practice’ it has to also provide some confidence for this team that the work they did in the off season turned them in the right direction after a disappointing 2009.
Also near the top of the speed chart were Robby Gordon and Bill Elliott. Neither driver looks to run the full season in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, at least as of now.
Gordon was 5th fastest in the first practice in a Toyota. He has only a handful of races on his schedule as a driver in 2010. “I think we have a legitimate shot at the pole for the Daytona 500,” he said.
Elliott was even faster. He timed 4th in his Wood Brothers Ford. As was the case last year, the Woods only plan to run a select number of races. Having Elliott as a driver could benefit the team. Not only is he an accomplished driver but he also has a past champion’s provisional that can be used provided a more recent champion does not require the qualifying free gift.
There were no incidents in Friday’s practice. Runs were essentially made in a one car at a time manner with no drafting.
Daytona 500 pole qualifying will be at 1:00pm eastern on Fox.
The Budweiser Shootout will be at 8:00pm eastern on Fox.
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