Wallace tops Daytona 500 speed chart in final practice

Darrell Wallace Jr._315298

Darrell Wallace Jr. adjusts his helmet before a practice session for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Darrell Wallace Jr., the first black driver to start the Daytona 500 since 1969, turned the fastest lap Saturday in the final practice for NASCAR’s season opener.

Wallace went 196.954 mph on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway and continued to shine as one of the stars of Speedweeks. Wallace, driving the No. 43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports, starts seventh in the Daytona 500. He’s the first black driver to start the race since Wendell Scott.

Wallace paced a field that saw just 25 of the 40 cars take laps.

Daytona 500 pole sitter Alex Bowman played it safe in his No. 88 Chevrolet and hit 191.160 in the fastest of his just three laps.

Danica Patrick was ninth-fastest in the final practice headed into her last NASCAR race. She will race the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 and then retire.

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org

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