The NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers ran their first fifty-minute session Friday under cloudy skies with flags waving in the strong breeze at Auto Club Speedway. Forty-three of the 49 entries were on track. BRIAN VICKERS/No.32 Braun Racing Toyota was fastest at 44.512/177.725 mph. The top five included two Go or Go Home drivers and a Rookie. If PAUL MENARD/No.98 Richmond/Menards Ford (second) and GREG BIFFLE/No.27 Baker Curb Racing Ford (third) keep it up, they will make the field based on time. JASON LEFFLER/No.38 Braun Racing Toyota was fourth fastest and is guaranteed a starting position. The top Rookie was COLIN BRAUN/No.16 Roush-Fenway Ford, running fifth.
Braun Racing has four cars running in Nationwide, with a revolving driver line-up. Leffler and Rookie BRIAN SCOTT are the regular drivers for the full season – but not always in the same car. The part-time drivers, who also rotate between cars, are KASEY KAHNE, REED SORENSEN, DAVID REUTIMANN, and Vickers. In NASCAR, the driver keeps the points, no matter how many cars driven, whereas the Owner Points remain with the specific car.
DANICA PATRICK/No.7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet took advantage of her first NNS session, turning sixteen laps – more than any other drivers. She was thirty-seventh fastest.
Earlier, during the NASCAR-mandated ‘Hauler Chats’ Patrick’s team owner, DALE EARNHARDT, Jr. said “We’re going to be real patient with her. She’s a lot of fun to be around.”
Patrick contrasted one difference between racing in IRL Indy Car and NASCAR – “There’s a lot more media in NASCAR.”
In the second Nationwide session, the sun continued to play hide and seek. Biffle was on top for the 100-minute session, at 40.794/170.407 mph, followed by Scott, Cup driver JOEY LOGANO/No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, STEVE WALLACE/No.66 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota, and Braun. Again, Patrick turned the most laps – 35, and moved up to twenty-seventh place. Scott missed the first practice as he ran over debris on his out lap, breaking the splitter, radiator and oil cooler. Obviously the repair took.
In the first Sprint Cup practice, MARK MARTIN/No.5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fastest, at 39.360/182.927 mph. The sun peeked through but the chill remained. Second through fifth were also running the red bow tie: RYAN NEWMAN/No.39 Stewart-Haas Racing, JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and two Richard Childress Racing drivers, JEFF BURTON/No.3 and CLINT BOWYER/No.33. Chevrolet was the marque for eight of the top ten drivers.
All 46 Cup entries were on track.
Friday was a light track day. The Nationwide drivers had two practices, and Sprint Cup ran one practice and qualifying.