Dale Jr. heads Sprint All-Star Race practice
May 16, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Daytona 500 winner sets pace; Larson tops Showdown practice
RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live | Sign up for RaceView today
Dale Earnhardt Jr. vaulted to the top of the leaderboard Friday afternoon in practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt, the 2000 All-Star winner, turned a fast lap of 193.562 mph in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet ahead of the Saturday night invitational (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).
Earnhardt's lap was just ahead of the 193.382 mph lap of Brian Vickers' No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Denny Hamlin was third-best at 193.271 mph in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Kevin Harvick, a two-time winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, was fourth-fastest with Greg Biffle completing the top five. Jimmie Johnson, winner of the last two NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races, was just 12th-fastest of the 19 drivers already confirmed for the 22-car main event.
The All-Star entrants were on track for a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes, with the final 15 minutes devoted to pit-stop practice. The unique format to Saturday night's Coors Light Pole Qualifying is a three-lap time trial that includes a four-tire change, with no speed limit on pit road.
Brad Keselowski was summoned to the NASCAR hauler for practicing his high-speed entry onto pit road before the designated 15 minutes.
Larson leads way in Sprint Showdown practice | Results
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson set the early pace in Friday practice for the Sprint Showdown qualifying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson, in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, turned a fast lap of 194.105 to top the leaderboard by a wide margin. Aric Almirola was second-fastest in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford at 192.438 mph.
Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose and Paul Menard completed the top five in the 95-minute practice session.
The top two finishers from Friday night's 40-lap Sprint Showdown (7:15 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) will transfer into the main event, Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. One other driver will make the invitational field as the top ballot-getter in the Sprint Fan Vote.
Rookie Alex Bowman spun off Turn 4 with 10 minutes to go in the practice session, but managed to avoid contact and bring his BK Racing No. 23 Toyota back to the garage in one piece.