DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fastest among 18 drivers in the opening practice for Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. The driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet turned a lap at 198.421 mph to pace the field.
Tony Stewart, returning to action for the first time since Aug. 5 after breaking his right leg in a sprint car accident in Iowa, was 10th fastest at 197.377 mph.
Jimmie Johnson did not join in the draft in the opening session, preferring to concentrate on single-car runs. The six-time champion was last on the speed chart, but that should not be construed as an omen for the race itself.