Fourteen drivers decided to stay with their first-day times and passed up qualifying sessions yesterday for today's Firecracker 400 NASCAR stock car race at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Richard Petty, Lake Speed, defending race champion Tim Richmond and Brad Teague were among the drivers who elected to stay with their laps from Thursday, when the top 20 positions were locked in.

They held their positions, while veteran Buddy Arrington, driving another of the speedy Ford Thunderbirds, became the fastest actual qualifier yesterday and moved from 37th to 25th with a lap of 193.532 mph.

The next nine drivers, including Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dave Marcis and Benny Parsons, also stood on their first-day speeds, with Rodney Combs the subsequent actual qualifier yesterday -- 15th at 192.604. Combs, driving another Thunderbird, improved from 190.541.

The front row positions for the 400-mile event were won by rookie Davey Allison and Bill Elliott at 198.085 and 198.050, respectively . . .

Defending champion Nigel Mansell of Britain earned the provisional pole position for the French Grand Prix by registering the fastest lap in the first of two official timed practices at Le Castellet.

Mansell's best time was 1 minute 6.454 seconds around the 2.37-mile track. That was 72/100ths of a second better than Lotus driver Ayrton Senna of Brazil had last year when he won the pole.

Alain Prost of France, the world champion, again will attempt to break Jackie Stewart's all-time Formula One record of 27 victories. In yesterday's clear weather, Prost was second fastest at 1:06.877.

Williams-Honda driver Nelson Piquet of Brazil qualified third at 1:07.270, Senna's Lotus was fourth at 1:07.303, Belgian Thierry Boutsen's Benetton Ford was fifth at 1:08.077 and Austrian Gerhard Berger's Ferrari was sixth at 1:08.198.

The second timed practice today will finalize grid positions for Sunday afternoon's 81-lap race.