When it came to the final day of testing, it'd be Matt Kenseth topping the morning chart while Greg Biffle topped the afternoon chart.
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 morning chart 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.
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.
Paul Menard was fourth fastest, continuing the quick speeds for Richard Childress Racing. Tony Stewart rounded out the top five as he missed the afternoon session due to running the Chili Bowl.
The afternoon session saw Roush Fenway driver Greg Biffle topping the charts with a speed of 194.936 mph. While it marked the highest speed of Saturday, it also marks the highest single car run by any driver over the course of the three days.
Matt Kenseth was second on the speed charts, five hundreths off of Biffle. Kenseth made the swap from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 season and has been using the test to get used to new crew chief Jason Ratcliffe. Despite being only their second time working together, the pair have been quick throughout the entire test session.
Kenseth’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch was third, eight hundreths off of Biffle. Busch’s team had to make significant repairs yesterday after being involved in the 10-car wreck after Dale Earnhardt Jr. got into Marcos Ambrose.
Earnhardt Jr. continued to improve, ranking fourth on the speed chart on Saturday afternoon. Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top five.
Following the test, NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said it was successful, not expecting any changes to be made before Speedweeks in February. However, he did state that he looks forward to an exciting finish to the Daytona 500.
“When it comes down to the trophy, the check and the trophy queen, all bets are off,” Pemberton said. “I expect them to run hard at the end (of the race) and make sure they are around for the end of the race and make sure they are positioned where they can get (to the checkered flag). There is no telling what you’ll see.”
Teams will now focus on testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway next Thursday and Friday as they continue to learn the new cars.