- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Earnhardt tops final practice for Daytona 500
Question of the Day
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Quiet most of Speedweeks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a little noise Saturday.
Earnhardt topped the speed chart for the final practice session before Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.
The 2004 Daytona 500 champion turned the fast lap by averaging 198.592 mph around the 2 1/2 -mile superspeedway. David Gilliland was second, followed by Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola.
Pole-sitter Danica Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart were among 10 drivers who skipped the 1 1/2 -hour final tuneup. Patrick is trying to become the first driver win the Daytona 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000. Only nine drivers have accomplished the feat in 54 years.
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, 2010 Daytona 500 champ Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Terry Labonte and Joe Nemechek also sat out the session. So did Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
“We don’t have any plans to go out,” Gordon said. “We feel like this entire week we have been able to learn everything we need to get prepared for the race tomorrow. … We’ve got a great race car. We are excited. We’ve got a great opportunity here.”
Before Saturday, Earnhardt had done little during Speedweeks. He finished eighth in the Sprint Unlimited and ninth in his qualifying race. He will start 19th in the “Great American Race,” his lowest opening spot in 14 years at NASCAR’s premier event.
His speed in the final practice had to boost the team’s confidence.
“We are excited about this weekend and feel like we have a good car and got it driving good in that last practice session,” Almirola said.
The final session involved little bump-drafting and even less side-by-side action _ no doubt because teams were leery of wrecking race cars about 24 hours before the Daytona 500.
Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski provided the most action when he hit a bird.
“I killed a Tweetie bird,” said Keselowski, one of auto racing’s top Tweeters.
Keselowski was 17th in the final practice.
“This is our 500 engine, so trying to get an idea of how it’s going to perform,” he said. “My car is really good. Definitely faster than what it was, so that’s good, right? I’m definitely optimistic.”
The Second Amendment applies to the District, too
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq