Sports

Forward of ultimate Daytona 500, Danica Patrick retains feelings in test

Forward of ultimate Daytona 500, Danica Patrick retains feelings in test

"It was just a little nerve-wracking", Bowman, who will be racing in the Daytona 500 for just the second time in his career, said after Sunday's qualifying.

Byron turned a lap of 210.681 miles per hour in Saturday afternoon's practice at Daytona International Speedway. "From a performance standpoint, he's someone who can look after me, but also from a comfort standpoint - I don't have to try to win the Daytona 500 with somebody I never met before", she said.

Bowman, 24, had won Earnhardt's vote as his replacement after he retired at the end of last season. "That's really my hope for the Daytona 500", Patrick said of her expectations.

A combination of qualifying on Sunday and the finishing order of the Duels heats on Thursday will determine the starting lineup for the 60th annual Daytona 500.

Patrick made the announcement during the final race weekend of the 2017 season that she would contest the 2018 Daytona 500 and the 2018 Indianapolis 500 before ending her career as a driver.

Hamlin was thrilled to have earned such a strong starting spot at second.

This offseason, Patrick has been the big headline in auto racing, as has often been the case through the years.

Danica Patrick looks over her car before a NASCAR auto racing practice session at Daytona International Speedway Saturday Feb. 10 2018 in Daytona Beach Fla

The Toyotas were fast, though, and all four JGR entries were in the top seven Sunday. You kind of got what you got.

Three more Fords recorded top speeds in the practice, with Joey Logano clocking in at 199.543 mph in the No.22 Team Penske Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. logging a lap in 199.508 mph in the No.17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, and Brad Keselowski recording a speed of 199.490 mph in the No.2 Team Penske Ford.

"I didn't think we would run that fast", Harvick admitted. "There's been an Earnhardt driving in the 500 for 39 years so to be able to keep that streak going for a 40th year means a lot to me and I'm sure a lot of Earnhardt fans are going to be happy to hear this news". "The speed is better than we expected".

Of course, with the Daytona 500 still a week away things can change and Patrick admits that her feelings may differ by the time the February 18 race rolls around.

This week, she's back in Florida and back in a stock vehicle - and for the final time.

"Everything is the same as it was before as far as showing up to Daytona without having driven since Homestead, so that is no different", she said.

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