Matt Kenseth leads Saturday Morning test session at DaytonaBy Ashley McCubbin
When Matt Kenseth made the switch to Joe Gibbs Racing, there were a lot of questions being asked. Would he be successful? Could he bring Coach Joe Gibbs a championship? So far, he is off to a good start as Kenseth led the Saturday morning test session at Daytona International Speedway. It marks the second session he has led after leading the first session on Thursday.
Kenseth made the switch to JGR for 2013 after spending his whole career at Roush Fenway Racing behind the wheel of the No. 17. Now behind the wheel of the No. 20, he topped the charts with a speed of 194.062 mph.
Despite being quick, Kenseth will run the entire Saturday afternoon session as “the book keeps getting thicker and thicker. There is no way we’re getting through it before 5 so we’ll be here for the duration.” Though he is also excited about the test at Charlotte Motor Speedway next Thursday and Friday.
“”The Charlotte test was really fun,” he said. “The car was fast and we learned a lot. Excited about getting back there.”
The Saturday session has consisted of single-car runs following a 10-car wreck that happened yesterday during some pack practice. Down the backstretch, Earnhardt Jr. was trying to push Ambrose in the draft, though a tap near the end of the back straight sent Ambrose spinning in front of the whole pack. Collected in the wreck was Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Regan Smith and Carl Edwards. All teams were sent home packing due to the damage except for Earnhadt Jr., Busch and Edwards – Earnhardt Jr. had some slight front end damage but nothing severe, Busch made repairs while Edwards was the only one with a back-up car. With some teams deciding to go home early, only 21 cars took to the track during the morning session.
2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was second fastest with a speed of 193.686 mph. Bayne will try to win his second Daytona 500 with Wood Brothers Racing while he runs the full Nationwide Series schedule for Roush Fenway.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Bayne said. “Our car was fast in the draft and we’ve been fast – near the top of the board – in qualifying.”
Danica Patrick was third fastest in practice as she enters her first full season in Sprint Cup Series competition, driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. She started in the Daytona 500 last year, though crashed out early on the second lap.
“It’s really nice to go out for the first time during the year and be fast and not be in a rush and scrambling for speed,” she said. “We’re in a really good place and it’s really flattering that people are excited about me, but it’s about the team. It’s about what they built, the aero, the drag – all of their work in the off-season.”
Paul Menard was fourth fastest, continuing the quick speeds for Richard Childress Racing. Tony Stewart rounded out the top five as he will miss the afternoon session due to running the Chili Bowl later tonight.
Austin Dillon was sixth in times, followed by Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya.