The next time NASCAR Cup Series teams hit the track at Daytona International Speedway will be for the 63rd annual Daytona 500.
Rain canceled final practice at the speedway Saturday afternoon. The morning session was abbreviated to a short three minutes because of the weather with only 27 drivers able to register a timed lap.
Alex Bowman will lead the field to the green flag Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The No. 48 team has spent the last two days looking over its Chevrolet after Bowman felt a vibration in the car during his Duel race. Fortunately, the team believes there are no long-term issues.
“We initially thought it was an engine issue, but fortunately, it wasn’t,” said crew chief Greg Ives. “The team was able to diagnose and fix it. We didn’t get a whole lot of practice today, but Alex felt everything was fine. We can’t wait for the Ally Camaro to lead the field to green in tomorrow’s Daytona 500.”
Nine drivers will start from the back of the field for the Daytona 500, seven of them in backup cars, following accidents in their Duel races.
Among them is William Byron, who qualified on the front row with Bowman. But Byron will have to drop to the rear of the field. Byron’s backup car is the one he won his first NASCAR Cup Series race with at Daytona last summer.
“Then we ran it again at Talladega in the fall and got a top-five finish,” said Byron. “It’s been fast every time it’s been on track, and I think it will be again when we get to the race tomorrow. We were still able to learn a lot in the Duel race on what we need for a setup and what we need security-wise with the handling.
“While we took a risk running up front during the Duel, those laps led only helped us learn more. Obviously, we didn’t want to go to a backup car, but I think we’re still in a really good place for the 500. We’ll definitely be good to go.”
Two more late additions to the list were Martin Truex for a radiator/oil cooler change and Erik Jones for an engine change.
Also dropping to the rear of the field in backup cars will be Cole Custer, Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Anthony Alfredo, Brad Keselowski and Kaz Grala.