NASCAR Sprint Unlimited: Paul Menard draws pole, Kurt Busch fastest

Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon were fastest on 2015's first day of NASCAR Sprint Cup running at Daytona on Friday, while Paul Menard drew pole for the non-championship Unlimited race

The 25 drivers participating in Saturday night's exhibition event had two 55-minute practice sessions early on Friday evening.

Stewart-Haas driver Busch's lap of 44.832 seconds and 200.749mph in practice one was the day's benchmark, putting him 0.220s clear of second-placed Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Reigning champion Kevin Harvick completed the top three, followed by Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne.

Only 14 drivers took part in the second session, where Gordon - who announced over the off-season that this will be his last full-time campaign - was quickest with a 45.740s lap, 0.056s in front of Denny Hamlin.

There were no incidents on track, with the only intrigue coming from a frustrated Tony Stewart getting black-flagged for failing to go to the mandatory driver weigh-in before the session and then not heeding an initial radio request to do so.


Before practice, a random draw was carried out to determine the Unlimited starting order.

Richard Childress Racing driver Menard selected first place, with Kahne, Logano and Brad Keselowski also on the front two rows. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Larson start at the back.

The Unlimited race is open to the previous year's Chase drivers and pole winners, all previous Daytona 500 pole winners and all previous Unlimited winners, with drivers then invited in championship order to fill any gaps to build a 25-car field.

Brian Scott, David Gilliland and AJ Allmendinger were all eligible but chose not to compete, while Brian Vickers was unable to take up his slot as he recovers from heart surgery.

The full Daytona 500 field has two practice sessions during the day on Saturday. Qualifying for the championship opener takes place on Sunday, though it only sets the front row and the grids for Thursday's heat races, which decide third to 43rd in the 500 starting order.


Pos  Driver              Team/Car
 1.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet
 2.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet
 3.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford
 4.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford
 5.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota
 6.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet
 7.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford
 8.  Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
 9.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota
10.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Chevrolet
11.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet
12.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet
13.  Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
14.  Carl Edwards        Joe Gibbs Toyota
15.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
16.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota
17.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet
18.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota
19.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford
20.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford
21.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet
22.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
23.  Casey Mears         Germain Chevrolet
24.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet
25.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet
Previous article Jeb Burton makes 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup leap with BK Racing Toyota
Next article NASCAR Daytona 500: Stenhouse and McDowell lead practice sessions