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Biffle fastest in first 500 practice sessions

Greg Biffle topped the timesheets in both of Saturday's practice sessions for next weekend's Daytona 500, with Marcos Ambrose and Trevor Bayne also impressing.
Greg Biffle topped the times in both of Saturday's two practice sessions for the Daytona 500, making him a firm favourite for pole position going into Sunday afternoon's qualifying.

Biffle set a time of 46.537s (193.395mph) in the first two-hour session, faster than Marcos Ambrose by just 0.011s on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. In the afternoon session that ran for one hour and 45 minutes, Biffle's closest competition was last year's race winner Trevor Bayne.

Biffle gave the credit to his pit crew and to crew chief Matt Puccia: "It's a testament to how hard these guys have worked because here the driver really doesn't do anything in qualifying," he said. "So it's Matt and all these guys on the team who work at the track and the shop. They've worked really hard on these cars and the motors have been awesome."

But while Biffle agreed that it made him one of the favourites going into qualifying on Sunday afternoon, he also had some concerns.

"We're definitely one of them, but some other guys still have some speed left. The thing that concerns me a little bit is that's about all we've got," he said. "If guys come out and pick up a couple tenths, they're gonna put some pressure on us because look at how tight it is. It's so close right now, but we're one of them. We're gonna be one of probably eight cars that has a stab at it."

Qualifying is due to start at 1.10pm ET (6.10pm GMT) with the order of the timed runs being set by lottery. A field of 49 drivers will be attempting to make the grid. There is some concern of rain affecting proceedings, in which case qualifying could conceivably be pushed over to Monday.

Running a second slower than Biffle, Jimmie Johnson was at least running in practice once his Cup car finally cleared inspection on Saturday morning, after new pieces for the #48 were fabricated at the Hendrick shop in North Caroline and flown down to Daytona Beach overnight. NASCAR officials confiscated 'C-posts' from the car on Friday after they were found to be out of tolerance in the initial inspection, and it looks as though Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus could face serious penalties for the transgression.

Before Daytona 500 qualifying, Biffle and Johnson will be among the 25 competitors in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. Ambrose will also be in the field, but Trevor Bayne will not even though he's eligible through his Daytona 500 win last year; his Cup team, Wood Brothers, does not have the funding to enter him into the event.

Full practice times are available.



Related Pictures

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Crew chief Chad Knaus reacts as crew members work on the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR confiscated C-posts due to a modification violation in an initial inspection at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Crew members work on the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR confiscated C-posts due to a modification violation in an initial inspection at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
#16 3M Ford (Greg Biffle) (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Michael Waltrip, driver of the #66 MyAFibStory.com Toyota, poses for a photo during a press conference before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy, driver of the #31 Heater.com Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 Pink Lemonade 5Hr Energy benefiting LBBC Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive For The Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

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