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Denny Hamlin Leads Toyota-Dominated Friday Daytona 500 Practice 

Denny Hamlin paced NASCAR Cup Series practice from Daytona International Speedway on Friday, leading a Toyota sweep of the top-eight positions. Photo Credit: Craig White,

If you were worried about the speed of the Toyotas on Wednesday… there’s no cause for concern, anymore.

Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry XSE for Joe Gibbs Racing, paced Friday’s 50-minute practice session at Daytona International Speedway, the second-to-last scheduled on-track session before the NASCAR Cup Series officially begins its points-paying season.

The Chesterfield, Virginia native surged to the top of the speed charts in the session, after being in the middle of an eight-car pack with his Toyota teammates from Joe Gibbs Racing, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, and 23XI Racing, which resulted in the manufacturer sweeping the top-eight spots.

Putting together a lap time of 45.575 seconds (197.476mph), Hamlin managed to lay down the quickest time observed in a Daytona 500 practice session since Bubba Wallace ran 199-plus miles per hour in February 2021, in his first race for 23XI Racing.

RELATED: 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 Practice Results

Hamlin’s lap on Friday was only good enough to lead the session by two one-thousandths of a second, with LEGACY MOTOR CLUB’s Erik Jones sitting in second place in the No. 43 Toyota Camry XSE. Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs were third and fourth place, while second-year Cup Series driver John Hunter Nemechek slotted into fifth.

Tyler Reddick, winner of the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona, was sixth-quickest on the speed charters, while LEGACY MOTOR CLUB co-owner Jimmie Johnson and Bubba Wallace rounded out the Toyota sweep of the top-eight in Friday’s 50-minute practice.

Behind the top eight drivers, was a line of six Ford Mustang entries, including two of the last three Daytona 500 winners in Michael McDowell and Austin Cindric, who completed the top-10 in NASCAR Cup Series practice. Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton, Ryan Blaney, and Joey Logano were also grouped into that draft.

The fastest of the Chevrolet Camaros in Friday’s session was Austin Dillon, clocking into 15th place after tagging onto the rear-end of the Toyota draft. However, his lap time was still nearly one second behind the session leader Denny Hamlin. Kyle Busch and Hendrick Motorsports had their draft during the session, which also included Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at times, allowing Busch, Byron, Elliott, Larson, and Stenhosue to take 16th through 20th in the session.

Of the 40 drivers to qualify for the 2024 Daytona 500, only 38 of them took to the track.

Chris Buescher didn’t take time for RFK Racing in practice, after traveling back home to North Carolina to witness the birth of his second child. Instead, David Ragan made some laps in the No. 17 Ford Mustang. Anthony Alfredo, who locked himself into the race with a strong qualifying run Wednesday, also didn’t take time in his No. 62 Chevrolet.

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