Feb 14, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT
Can you say, “Junior, Junior, Junior!”?
If anyone doubts that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is more determined than he’s ever been to not only win his first Sprint Cup championship but also to send Steve Letarte out a winner in his final year as a NASCAR crew chief before moving to an analyst role on NBC Sports in 2015, think again.
The winner of the 2004 Daytona 500 made it very clear Friday in the first practice session for Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited that he intends on going fast and – more importantly – win in 2014.
Earnhardt topped the 18-driver field late Saturday afternoon with a best lap of 198.421 mph on the 20th of 30 laps he turned in practice.
Kyle Busch, who many media members are predicting as perhaps Jimmie Johnson‘s biggest challenge for the 2014 Sprint Cup championship, was second-fastest at 198.255 mph, turning his fast lap on the 21st of 30 laps. The younger Busch brother and Earnhardt were the only drivers to complete 30 laps of practice.
In his first appearance in a race car since his horrific crash in a sprint car last August 5, Tony Stewart did very well, all things considered, turning a best lap of 197.377 mph, good for 10th in the session.
Danica Patrick, who won the pole for last year’s Daytona 500, was right behind her boss and Stewart Haas Racing teammate with the 11th fastest speed at 197.118 mph.
Surprisingly – or could it be a case of sandbagging – Johnson was the slowest with a top lap of just 190.359 mph in 12 total laps.
Check back with NBCSports.com’s MotorSportsTalk again later this evening for results of the second practice session.
Here’s the top lap speeds for all 18 drivers:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 198.421 mph
2. Kyle Busch 198.255
3. Kurt Busch 198.124
4. Kevin Harvick 198.111
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 198.094
6. Matt Kenseth 198.024
7. Ryan Newman 197.954
8. Marcos Ambrose 197.850
9. Denny Hamlin 197.420
10. Tony Stewart 197.377
11. Danica Patrick 197.118
12. Carl Edwards 197.096
13. Joey Logano 196.846
14. Brad Keselowski 196.812
15. Jamie McMurray 196.812
16. Jeff Gordon 196.730
17. Terry Labonte 190.852
18. Jimmie Johnson 190.359
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Jul 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
After Tanner Foust emerged as the victor of a riotous final in New York, the beat goes on for Red Bull GRC this weekend with a trip to The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Jul 25, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
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Jul 25, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT
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Jul 25, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT
On Friday’s NASCAR America, Clint Bowyer talked about handling Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s 21st annual Brickyard 400, as well as his teams’ improvement and his hopes of getting into and winning the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jul 25, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
After a long day of testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Penske Racing teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power went to see a movie Wednesday in Mansfield, Ohio. Check out Montoya’s hilarious tale about what they saw.
Jul 25, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
“Every day I wake up and I’m like, ‘Yes, let’s do it again.’ Then there are thoughts of ‘I finished sixth, that’s pretty special.’ I don’t know if I could achieve that result again.” – Outlaw
Jul 25, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya has twice come close to winning the Brickyard 400, only to suffer maladies that kept him from kissing the finish line bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in celebration.
Jul 25, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT
The former Sprint Cup champion steps behind the counter and serves up cold ones…Of truth.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS — Everyone seems to be concerned Matt Kenseth hasn’t won a race thus far in 2014 – everyone, that is, except Kenseth himself.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT
The four-time Brickyard 400 champion says he had to go against his “natural tendencies” as a driver in order to become as successful as he has been at Indy.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
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Jul 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Red Bull leading the race for the podium in Hungary, but Ricciardo still has some concerns.
WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Hornish on nuances of Indy, JJ and Bowyer, Indiana racing history
Jul 25, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
On Friday’s edition of NASCAR America, Leigh Diffey will again be joined in-studio by 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2014 Nationwide Series Iowa winner Sam Hornish Jr.
Jul 25, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
P1 and P2 in both practice sessions, but not 100% where they want to be.
Jul 25, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
Defending Brickyard 400 winner would push for mid-week races if he were in charge of creating the Sprint Cup schedule.
Jul 25, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Kenseth took the first step towards his first win of 2014 – and his first career win in the Brickyard 400 – recording the fastest speed in Friday’s sole Sprint Cup practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jul 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Brembo and Mercedes release a joint statement concerning the incident during qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
Jul 25, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT
Nationwide Series rookie continues to show strong pace ahead of Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250.
Jul 25, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT
Four-time Brickyard champ: “From an overall strength of the team and speed of the cars, this is by far the best chance we’ve had of winning in a long time.”
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