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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)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with third place finisher Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, races to a third place finish Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, pulls out of the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a third place finish Sunday, July 19, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members for Jeff Gordon (not pictured), driver of the #24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet, work on their car after an incident in the garage area with Clint Bowyer (not pictured), driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 18, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 18, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for seventh position Friday, July 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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