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David Ragan shows a hot Ford as Daytona practice opens for Saturday's 400

Jack Roush's David Ragan: quiet much of the spring, can he get hot over the summer? (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern


   David Ragan led Thursday's blazing hot afternoon practice session for Saturday night's mid-season Daytona 400, at 190.714 mph.
   This is an 'impound' race, meaning no practice after Friday afternoon qualifying (4:10 p.m. EDT), as a cost-cutting move, to limit special qualifying tricks at this restrictor plate track.
   Minor tire issues aggravated some NASCAR teams, like Jeff Gordon's and Ragan's, as Daytona International Speedway opened Thursday for Saturday night's Coke 400, but team managers and Goodyear engineers generally chalked it up to a 'green' race track.
   "Jeff's tires did look a little different than the others, yes, but generally we're just seeing what we usually see when Daytona first opens (and is at its most abrasive)," Goodyear spokesman Mike Siberini said. "That is a little 'blading,' which can lead to a few blisters."
   "We didn't have any tires issues, and a number of guys did have tire issues, so we're glad that we have a well-balanced car," Denny Hamlin said.  "I saw a bunch of guys have right-rear problems; that's pretty common here, during the day. It should be better at night.
   "There will probably be two or three issues during the race. But I don't think it will be a 'tire issue.'"
  "I think everyone is seeing the same thing, probably after about 25 laps," Greg Biffle said. "I think the track temp right now is about 140 degrees; that's pretty darned hot. It should be better at night."


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