Earnhardt Jr. tops practice charts

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 14: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

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.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.