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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)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney on track during Nationwide practice (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton drives the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney drives the #29 Cooper Standard Ford during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, speaks during a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/ Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Chase, qualified for 15th position Friday, November 7, 2014 for Sunday`s final Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Johnson won the NASCAR race last week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Menards/Hormel Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 6, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 6, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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