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Dale Jr. rises atop Daytona speed chart in final practice

RELATED: Final practice results | Best 10-lap times | Daytona schedule

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shot to the top of the leaderboard Thursday in final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Daytona International Speedway.

An aerodynamic pull in a six-car pack carried Earnhardt to a lap of 193.328 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt, in his final full season of competition, is a four-time winner at the 2.5-mile track.

Earnhardt led a clean sweep of the top five by Chevrolet drivers, who benefited from the aero boost of racing in a close-quarters pack. Michael McDowell was second-fastest at 193.249 mph in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevy during final prep for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Seven-time series champ Jimmie Johnson (193.228 mph), XFINITY Series regular Brendan Gaughan (193.224 mph) and Kasey Kahne (193.220 mph) completed the top five, all separated by .001 seconds. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer, the lone Ford driver in the six-car group, was another .001 second back in sixth.

Only 19 cars participated in the final 55-minute session. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled Friday at 4:10 p.m. ET (NBCSN).

Kyle Busch’s Toyota edges in on Ford’s fleet in first practice

RELATED: Practice 1 results

Kyle Busch broke up a Ford monopoly and landed atop the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leaderboard, setting the pace in Thursday’s first practice at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch posted a lap of 197.438 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota on the 2.5-mile track. The opening 55-minute session was the first on-track prep for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Defending race winner Brad Keselowski was second-fastest at 197.230 mph in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford.

Ford drivers set the pace early on, assembling an aerodynamic draft that briefly gave the automaker the first eight spots on the speed chart. Ford held on to secure second through seventh in the practice order, with Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto following Busch, who got his own aero pull in a Toyota-only draft.

Kurt Busch, a winner at the Florida track in February in the Daytona 500, was 10th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford.

Darrell Wallace Jr., the interim driver for the injured Aric Almirola, was 12th-fastest in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford.