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Mears, Newman lead Sprint Cup practices at Bristol

March 15, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Harvick, Busch strong in both sessions

Final Sprint Cup practice

Casey Mears topped the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, beating out a top-five field that featured three former series champions.

Mears' best speed of 125.906 mph -- achieved on his first lap -- was good enough to edge Matt Kenseth (125.815 mph), Carl Edwards (125.683 mph), Brad Keselowski (125.486 mph) and Kurt Busch (125.469 mph).

Busch and Kevin Harvick (125.363, ninth) were third and second, respectively, in the days' early practice.

Ryan Newman, who took the day's first session, was 14th with a speed of 124.995 mph.

Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not participate in the final practice and placed 29th earlier in the day with a speed of 124.517 mph.

The practice was slowed with just over 10 minutes remaining when Landon Cassill fishtailed and slammed the wall hard after a rear tire and hub flew off his No. 40 Chevrolet. If Cassill goes to a backup car, he will have to start Sunday's race from the rear of the field.

Sprint Cup Practice 2 (Practice 2 results)

Ryan Newman led Saturday's first practice at Bristol in a session that, unlike Friday's practice, was incident-free.

Newman posted a speed of 127.081 mph in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Stewart-Haas racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch followed up Newman, with a pair of expectant dads -- Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth and RCR's Paul Menard -- rounding out the top five.

Unlike Friday's practice that featured a handful of wrecks and scrapes, including Danica Patrick early on, Saturday's session went off without a major incident, despite being run under sub-40-degree temperatures to start out with.

Denny Hamlin, the Coors Light Pole Award winner, was sixth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne.

Tune in Sunday for the Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX).

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