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Johnson paces field in Martinsville practice

April 05, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com

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All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finish in top 10

See full practice results here

Jimmie Johnson is used to being in the front at Martinsville Speedway, and that’s exactly where the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion found himself following Friday’s first practice for the STP Gas Booster 500

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Johnson turned in the top time of the 90-minute session, completing a lap around the .526-mile paperclip track in 19.214 seconds (98.533 mph). Johnson has seven wins at the historic track, including one in the fall race last year.

Juan Pablo Montoya posted the second-fastest speed of the session, at 98.502 mph, a lap time of 19.224 seconds.

Clint Bowyer (19.252 seconds, 98.359 mph), Jeff Gordon (19.272, 98.257) and Brad Keselowski (19.276, 98.236) rounded out the top five.

It was a strong session for Hendrick Motorsports. In addition to having two of its four drivers in the top five, Kasey Kahne logged the seventh-fastest lap time at 19.306 seconds and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was ninth-fastest with a time of 19.335 seconds.

Among other notable drivers Friday, Mark Martin -- who is replacing injured Denny Hamlin in Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 11 Toyota -- was 18th on the speed chart, turning his best lap in 19.406 seconds.

Ryan Newman finished just outside the top 10, recording the 11th-best time (19.343 seconds). Newman also lightly bumped David Stremme toward the end of practice, but neither car lost control.

It was the lone Sprint Cup Series practice before qualifying, which is scheduled to begin Friday at 3:40 p.m. ET.

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