(Reuters) - Team Penske showed its strength late in the final practice session for next Sunday’s Daytona 500 when Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski jumped to the top of the leaderboard at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Logano, who won last year’s Daytona 500, clocked the fastest speed of 195.933 mph as he led a draft involving Keselowski and Ryan Blaney on his final run of 29 laps.
Keselowski, packed in the middle of the draft, finished a close second at 195.848 mph with Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing, a Team Penske affiliate, third at 195.797 mph.
The trio had formed a strategy for Blaney, who has to qualify for the Feb. 21 Daytona 500 on speed, to put down a fast practice time in the unlikely event that rain washes out Sunday’s qualifying.
”We had a plan,“ Blaney told Motorsport.com. ”That’s what we usually do. Brad, Joey and I figure out how we can run together - a little three-car - to see how they draft up.
”You can’t tell much but you can see where you’re at and where they’re loaded down with extra drafting help. That was kind of the plan, to line up there at the end.
“As far as overall raw speed, I think we need to find a little bit more, but I don’t feel like we need too much more. I feel pretty good about tomorrow.”
Logano, 25, was in prime form all day and ran second to twice Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the first practice session for the Great American Race, NASCAR’s season-opening event.
Kurt Busch rode high on the leaderboard for most of the two practice sessions before being eclipsed late in the day to finish up fourth-fastest at 194.877 mph.
Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch was fifth best in the closing session at 194.696 mph.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine