Truex, Bayne top charts in Talladega practice
May 02, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Five drivers cross 200-mph barrier in frantic first session
MORE: Practice 1 results | Final practice results
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Martin Truex Jr. and Trevor Bayne claimed the top of the leaderboard Friday afternoon in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices at Talladega Superspeedway.
Truex, driving the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, clocked a fast lap of 200.721 mph in preparation for Sunday's Aaron's 499 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). The 33-year-old driver -- 27th in Sprint Cup points and still seeking his first top-five finish of the season -- showed speed earlier in the year at similar Daytona International Speedway, qualifying second for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Bayne, the Daytona 500 winner in 2011, went to the top of the board in final practice at 199.015 mph in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. Speeds were slightly slower and the participation drastically lighter in the final 55-minute session -- all 47 entrants turned laps in the opening practice; just 27 participated in final practice, opting to save their equipment for the rest of the weekend.
Rookie Justin Allgaier was second-fastest in the first practice at 200.666 mph with David Ragan, the defending race winner, third-best at 200.599. Marcos Ambrose and rookie Kyle Larson completed the top five drivers, who were the only ones to break the 200-mph mark in either practice.
Drivers were aggressive from the get-go in the opening session, fanning out three- and four-wide on the 2.66-mile track -- the biggest oval circuit in NASCAR. At the front of the pack was Truex, who was among a handful of drivers to rise over 200 mph once the track went green.
Ambrose, fined three days ago for a post-race scuffle last weekend with Casey Mears at Richmond, brought out the only stoppage of either session with a blown right-front tire 15 minutes into first practice. He stopped at the exit of pit road, where his Richard Petty Motorsports crew changed the tire before the No. 9 Ford headed back to the garage.
"It was definitely odd," said Ambrose, who said had just let off the throttle in trying to simulate a green-flag pit stop as he exited Turn 4. His RPM crew began preparing a backup car for duty.
Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET, broadcast on FOX. It will mark the series' first use of the new knockout-style, group qualifying format on a superspeedway where engine horsepower is restricted.