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Hamlin posts top speed in final Daytona 500 practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Denny Hamlin turned the fastest lap in the final Daytona 500 practice.

Hamlin averaged 202.106 mph during one of his 24 laps around the 2 1/2 mile superspeedway Saturday, edging Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Ragan.

Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon, making his final Daytona 500 start, was 13th fastest. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who’s had one of the fastest cars of Speedweeks, was 26th. But Earnhardt avoided any drafting, preferring to kept his No. 88 Chevrolet out of harm’s way on the eve of the “Great American Race.”

Eight cars opted not to get on track, including Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick. Patrick already has wrecked two cars during Speedweeks. Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Reed Sorenson, AJ Allmendinger, Michael Waltrip and Mike Wallace also chose not to turn any laps in the final tuneup.

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