Defending race winner Kyle Busch led final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway on Friday, turning a lap at 187.963 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Series points leader Kyle Larson, driving in a backup car because of an incident earlier in the practice session, was second at 187.833 mph in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Rounding out the top five in the final session were: first practice session leader Martin Truex Jr. at 187.305 mph in the Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Ryan Blaney at 187.182 mph in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford and Brad Keselowski at 187.130 in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
About five minutes into the final session, Larson hit the outside wall coming into Turn 2, damaging the right rear of his car. Larson went to his backup No. 42 car, and was able to get it back on the track for the fast lap.
“The backup, I’m sure should be just as good if not better than the primary,” Larson told FS1. “We’ll try not to crash any more today.”
About 17 minutes later, Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray also got loose and brushed the wall with the rear right of his No. 1 Chevrolet. His damage was not as significant, however, and he remained in his primary car. He recorded a time that was eighth-fastest at 186.561 mph.
It’s a busy Friday for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, which has a two-day show at Kansas, with Coors Light Qualifying wrapping up the events at 6:45 p.m. ET on FS1. The Go Bowling 400 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Truex Jr. set the pace in an eventful opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, setting down a fast lap of 185.065 mph. Truex was the only driver to eclipse 185 mph in the first practice at the 1.5-mile track.
Blaney was second with a speed of 184.932 mph, followed by Truex’s FRR teammate Erik Jones (184.596 mph), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth (184.533 mph) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (184.458 mph) in the top five.
Jones sustained damage to his Toyota moments after putting down his fast lap, though. He spun around in a solo incident, careening into the infield grass and damaging his car. His No. 77 team was attempting to fix his primary car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth in the session despite nearly running up into the wall, and he wasn’t the only driver who averted disaster — both Jimmie Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, and Larson had close brushes with the outside wall early on.
There were multiple holds during the opening 55-minute session. They were:
• The No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. was docked 15 minutes of practice time and also lost its pit stall selection for failing pre-race inspection three times at Talladega.
• The Nos. 18 of Kyle Busch and 83 of Corey LaJoie were held for 15 minutes of practice in penalties that were deferred from Talladega, due to rain at the Alabama track.
• The Nos. 1 of Jamie McMurray, 37 of Chris Buescher and 42 of Kyle Larson also were held 15 minutes at the start of practice for failing pre-race inspection at Talladega.
• The No. 77 of Erik Jones was docked 15 minutes of practice time for missing the rookie meeting.