Champ hot in first practice; Toyotas dominate
March 15, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Apart from Matt Kenseth’s win at Las Vegas last week, Toyotas haven’t enjoyed a ton of success thus far in 2013. If Friday’s Sprint Cup Series practice for the Food City 500 offered any insight, that could soon change.
Led by Kenseth in second, Toyota cars took four of the top five spots on the leaderboard, as Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin followed. Three of the four (Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth) are Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
Reigning Sprint Cup Champion and defending Bristol spring race winner Brad Keselowski took the top overall spot, grabbing the lead on his 63rd and final lap in 14.869 seconds and a best speed of 129.047 mph. Kenseth, who inserted himself into seventh in the standings with last week’s victory, ran 53 laps and finished just behind Keselowski at 128.908. Hamlin, who announced Thursday that he elected to not appeal his recent $25,000 fine, ran his 61st lap in 14.952. He won last fall’s race at Bristol.
Current points leader Jimmie Johnson spent plenty of time on the track with 44 laps but posted just the 27th best speed. Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. was barely ahead of him in 22nd with a time of 15.098.
Early on in the practice, Busch tried to sneak around David Gilliland but made contact and suffered a half-spinout. On his 24th lap, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Ford started billowing white smoke. He did not return to the track.
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