Ford Dominates NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 Practice

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA — FEBRUARY 15, 2022
NASCAR Cup Practice Sessions kicked off Speed Week here at the Daytona International Speedway ahead of Qualifying, scheduled for Wednesday, and The Duels races which are scheduled for Thursday evening. One obvious takeaway from Tuesday was the dominance of the Ford Mustangs that absolutely owned the top 5 spots on the speed chart in both sessions.

Leaderboard 2/15/2022 NASCAR Cup Practice, Daytona International Speedway (Image: nascar.com)

Defending Champion Goes Fastest
Not only did the Ford camp own the Leaderboard, but Daytona 500 defending champion Michael McDowell (#34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford) driving for Front Row Motorsports was fastest pushing his Mustang to a 46.696 lap at 192.736 MPH. This is great news for McDowell coming off a so-so day in LA where he made the Clash at the Coliseum A Main but struggled to finish 16th. The Glendale, Arizona native is looking to join Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick as a multi-time winner at Daytona when the 40-car field takes the green flag Sunday.

Credit: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA — FEBRUARY 15: Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

What’s up with Chevy and Toyota?
The big question sweeping through the garage and NASCAR fandom: What have the Ford teams got, and do Team Chevy and TRD have an answer? Is this all about the draft or does Ford have a horsepower and/or aero advantage? What we see in the data is a bit encouraging for Toyota as Truex, Wallace, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch went P6 to P10 at 191.1 MPH on the Leaderboard in Practice 1. The top Chevy at P11 was Chase Elliott with a top speed of 191.0 MPH. In Practice 2 the Fords really wound up the draft with all the Ford teams represented and captured P1-P10 as Blaney delivered the top speed of 192.588 MPH. The Chevy teams looked better than Practice 1 but could only get to P11 on the Leaderboard with Suarez delivering a top speed of 187.402 MPH a disturbing 1.293 seconds behind Blaney. Fellow Chevy drivers Cassill, Stenhouse Jr, Reddick, Haley, LaJoie, Elliott, Larson, Bowman, Hemric, and Grala finishing P13-P22, all 1.5–2.5 seconds off the pace.

Credit: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA — FEBRUARY 15: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light #BUSCHRACETEAM Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Rule change implemented late Tuesday night
As predicted many times in Go Full Throttle’s analysis of the Next Gen car, race engineers are going to find ways to make the cars faster. NASCAR saw significant “yaw” or what’s technically known as “reverse skew” during Tuesday’s practice sessions and they reacted immediately with a rule change to address it. According to NASCAR mechanic and nascar.com contributor Bozi Tatarevic, reverse skew is most apparent when cars are traveling down the straightaways and it visually looks like the rear of the car body is shifted left while the chassis is pointing straight. “The benefit of this configuration, where the car is yawed in a clockwise direction from the top, is that it hides the spoiler from the right rear of the car, which in turn creates the lowest drag configuration.” Teams were allowed in the garage 3 hours earlier than originally schedule Wednesday morning to make the required changes based on the new “yaw” rule.

Qualifying is up next and our Preseason GFT AI Driver Rankings
Single-car qualifying on starts today (Feb 16) at 8:05 p.m. ET and will have two rounds, with the top 10 speeds in Round 1 moving on to the second round. The fastest two cars in Round 2 will lock in as the front-row starters for Sunday’s Great American Race. The remainder of the Grid will be set by a complex formula of qualifying times and results in the Bluegreen Vacation Duels races which we will detail here Thursday morning before the Duels. Also Thursday we will release our Preseason GFT AI Driver Ranking model for the 2022 NASCAR Cup season.

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Complete coverage of the NASCAR Daytona Bluegreen Vacation Duels races and Sunday’s Daytona 500 on our website: https://gofullthrottle.net/

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association