By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Defending Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano saved his best for the last two minutes of the second and final practice session on Saturday afternoon.
Drafting with teammate Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing, a Team Penske affiliate, Logano topped the speed chart at 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway with a lap at 195.933 mph (45.934 seconds), the fastest of the day.
Keselowski was a close second at 195.848 mph, followed by Blaney at 195.797 mph. Those three drivers were the only ones who cracked the 46-second mark.
Logano was consistently fast all day, running second to two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Saturday’s opening practice for the Great American Race (Feb. 21 on FOX).
While Logano established himself as one of the favorites for the Feb. 21 season-opening points race, Blaney, who has to qualify for the race on speed, positioned himself for a spot in the field in the unlikely event of a qualifying rainout on Sunday.
“We had a plan,” Blaney said after practice in an interview with Motorsport.com. “That’s what we usually do. Brad, Joey and I figure out how we can run together — a little three-car — to see how they draft up. You can’t tell much, but you can see where you’re at and where they’re loaded down with extra drafting help. That was kind of the plan, to line up there at the end.
“We have a pretty fast car, compared to the cars we need to beat — if we’re in the top two of the eight that don’t have charters. I feel pretty good about that. As far as overall raw speed, I think we need to find a little bit more, but I don’t feel like we need too much more. I feel pretty good about (qualifying on Sunday).”
Image: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images