Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rain Dominates Opening Day at Daytona with Shortened Practices for Both Series

Elliott Sadler and Clint Bowyer talk shop before NASCAR Nationwide Series practice
on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Credit: Geoff Burke/ Getty Images for NASCAR
By Rosalie Thompson

The rain came around noon Thursday to Daytona International Speedway, delaying practice, keeping fans away and causing bartenders in restaurants near the track to wonder where the patrons were.  By evening, however, the track was dry and the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup drivers were on the track for their shortened practice sessions.

The Nationwide drivers hit the track first as they searched for a dancing partner for Friday night’s race, where two-car tandems will be the order of the night in a race where some drivers will be making their first start at there.

The two top Sunoco Rookie of the year contenders will face off this weekend when Timmy Hill and Blake Koch take the green flag for Friday’s race. Hill leads the rookie standings by 16 points over Koch and both drivers will be making their first Daytona Nationwide start. Hill had not reached the minimum age of 18 when the Daytona 500 was run and Koch had planned to run a limited schedule.
Several Sprint Cup drivers will be in the Nationwide field including Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick who will join Elliott Sadler and Clint Bowyer as part of the KHI team.

The Sprint Cup drivers spent the rainy day waiting for practice, making media appearances and signing autographs for fans who caught up with them as they made their way around the track. 

The Coke Zero 400 will be run under the lights on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on TNT.


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