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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.



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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)
Marcos Ambrose in the Richard Petty Motorsport garage at Sonoma Raceway on June 20, 2014 (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, races Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates with his son, Keelan, in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, leads thre field past the green flag to start during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 12, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 5, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 5, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 5, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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