The anticipation is mounting as teams and drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series get ready for the biggest race of the year. Speedweeks at Daytona has officially begun with a pair of practice sessions today, in preparation for the 64th Daytona 500 next Sunday.

Michael McDowell, the reigning Daytona 500 champion, led the opening practice session in his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford with a fast lap of 192.736 mph. A large pack of Ford machines went out together late in the session, which enabled them to sweep the top five. The rest of the top ten in the first practice were all Toyota drivers, led by Martin Truex Jr.

“It’s fun to come back here to Daytona being top of the board,” McDowell stated. “I don’t know if it means a whole lot for the weekend, but we’ve got a fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. We didn’t want to get into too crazy of a pack, but wanted to get up to speed and know how far the cars are traveling and what we need to do. It’s been a crazy off-season getting this Next Gen car ready. But feel good about coming back to Daytona and hopefully being able to defend our Daytona 500 victory.”

The second practice session was led by Team Penske drivers Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. Ford once again took the top five spots with Cole Custer, Cody Ware, and Chris Buescher rounding out the top five. Many drivers were trying to figure out how they could draft, and just how hard they could push one another around the 2.5-mile speedway. Kevin Harvick made mention about how the timing of the draft would be a major factor in how things turn out.

All 42 drivers were able to get on track on Tuesday. There was only one caution, and that was just for the stalled car of BJ McLeod on pit road.

The speeds today were slightly down from this time last year, but all of the drafting today was done in small packs. Some teammates like Keselowski and Buescher spent a lot of time trying tandem drafting. Many others spent time trying to simulate qualifying runs in preparation for tomorrow.

The action revs up tomorrow night with single-car qualifying taking place at 8 PM ET on FS1. There will be two rounds of qualifying, with each driver getting just one lap. The top ten will battle it out in the second round as the top two drivers will set the front row for the Great American Race.

The qualifying order for tomorrow has already been set, with Daniel Hemric being the first driver out on track. He will be followed by Landon Cassill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, and Kurt Busch. The full qualifying order can be seen by clicking here.

The rest of the field for the Daytona 500 will be set according to the Duel races on Thursday. The two fastest open cars without a charter (in single-car qualifying) will lock their way into the race regardless of the results of Thursday’s duels. The final two spots of the 40-car field will be determined by the best finishers of the qualifying races.

The two Duels on Thursday will air on FS1, with the first green flag waving at 7 PM. There are 42 drivers entered in the event this year, meaning that two of them will go home. A third practice session is slated for Friday evening and final practice will get underway on Saturday morning. Sunday's race coverage on FOX begins at 2:30 PM.