NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
        === Stewart fastest in quiet day of practice for Daytona 500 ===
 
 Daytona  Beach, FL  (Sports  Network)  - Tony  Stewart  topped  the charts  in
 Friday's incident-free practice for the Daytona 500.
 
 Stewart led the way in the one-hour afternoon session at Daytona International
 Speedway with a lap at 197.131 mph. Jeff Gordon was just a tick behind Stewart
 at  197.075 mph, followed by Danica Patrick at 197.010 mph. Patrick will start
 on the pole and Gordon will share the front row with her in the 500-mile race.
 
 Just  14 of the  43 drivers in the starting field for the race participated in
 the  morning  session. Aric Almirola  posted the  quickest lap at 196.941 mph,
 followed  by  Jeff Burton  and Dale Earnhardt  Jr. Patrick did  not run in the
 morning but completed 32 laps in the afternoon.
 
 "Practice  today was  really the most amount  of race running that I felt like
 I've  had so  far," Patrick said. "We  did 32 laps straight, and I was running
 with  great cars. It was Jeff (Gordon), Kasey (Kahne) and Tony (Stewart). Dale
 (Earnhardt Jr.) got in the mix at one point. It was a good group of cars to be
 with. I just stayed out there for a long time and got a good feel."
 
 The  last  session featured  22  drivers.  Several  competitors opted  not  to
 practice  during the  day, including  Kevin Harvick,  who won  last Saturday's
 preseason  event and  the first race in Thursday's Daytona 500 twin-qualifiers
 at Daytona. Harvick will start third in the 500.
 
 Final practice is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
 
 Sunday's  Daytona  500 is  slated to  start at 1  p.m. but  weather could be a
 factor.  According to  the  National  Weather Service,  the  forecast for  the
 Daytona  Beach area that afternoon calls for a 60 percent chance of rain. Last
 year's  race was delayed one day for the first time in its 54-year history due
 to inclement weather.
 
 02/22 15:41:14 ET

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