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NASCAR: RCR dominates opening Daytona 500 practice

After Kevin Harvick's departure following the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season, Richard Childress Racing was expected to take a step back in 2014.

Not so fast.

Paul Menard and newcomers Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon placed first, second and fourth, respectively atop the leaderboard in the first Daytona 500 practice of the day on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Menard's top speed of 195.042 mph bested Newman's 194.839 and Joe Gibbs Racing standout Matt Kenseth's 194.561. Dillon was right behind them at 194.334, while Childress's fourth car, driven by Brian Scott, rounded out the top five at 194.330.

Positions six through 10 went to new Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. (194.263), Greg Biffle (194.238), Marcos Ambrose (194.196), Joey Logano (193.932) and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne (193.865).

No Hendrick Motorsports drivers placed in the top 20, with Jeff Gordon (193.005), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (192.889), Kasey Kahne (192.555) and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson (192.332) placing 21st, 22nd, 26th and 29th, respectively.

Making his return from an August leg injury, Tony Stewart ran eight laps for a best speed of 191.669 to place 36th.

Daytona 500 practice will resume at 1:30 p.m. ET and run til 3:20 p.m. ET before tonight's 75-lap exhibition race, The Sprint Unlimited, gets underway at 8 p.m. ET. All on-track activity will be shown live on FOX Sports 1.

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