Earnhardt returns, practices at Daytona

(AP Photo/Terry Renna)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. took another step toward making last year a "distant memory."

NASCAR's most popular driver made his official return to racing Saturday by taking part in the first Daytona 500 practice of Speedweeks.

Earnhardt turned nine laps at Daytona International Speedway during a four-hour session and ranked 11th on the speed chart. He averaged 192.670 mph during his fastest lap in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

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