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Gaughan, Jones make moves during practice

July 12, 2013, Brad Norman,

Both drivers finish in the top 10 in each of the day's practices


NEWTON, Iowa -- Brendan Gaughan led the field in the second of two practices Friday at Iowa Speedway, leading the two-hour session with a best lap time of 23.083 seconds (136.464 mph).

The 38-year-old leading the second session was precisely the opposite of the opening 115-minute stanza, in which Erik Jones posted the fastest speed.

Jones, age 17, is only eligible to run at ovals one mile or less in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He quickly made himself at home at .875-mile Iowa Speedway on Friday afternoon, then finished ninth in the evening session.

“We were pretty quick unloading the truck, right there in the top 10 with all the other guys,” Jones said during an hour break between the two practice sessions. “We kept making it better, made a couple of big swings with changes we wanted to do. We put tires on, so we kind of cheated a little bit, but I needed to see about qualifying in these cars. We’re going to make a few mock runs, just so I can get a good feel for what these trucks do.”


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The other 17-year-old in the field, Chase Elliott, didn’t fare quite so well. He finished 15th on the grid in the second session, but brought out the caution flag 15 minutes in after taking a spin due to flat tires.

Behind Gaughan in the final session was second-place Ross Chastain (23.097 seconds, 136.381 mph), who had a great all-around day. In the opening session, Chastain finished third in his Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford.

German Quiroga Jr. (23.129, 136.193) was third in the second session, followed by Miguel Paludo (23.163, 135.963) and Jeb Burton (23.168, 135.963). Rounding out the top 10 in the second session was Johnny Sauter in sixth place, followed by most recent Camping World Truck Series winner Ty Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jones and Ron Hornaday Jr.

Seven drivers finished in the top 10 in both of the first two practices in advance of Saturday night’s American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen: Burton, Chastain, Gaughan, Hornaday, Jones, Paludo and Wallace.

Ryan Blaney, the most recent Truck Series winner here, held the top spot in the first practice for nearly an hour before being bested by Jones. He finished 12th in the second practice.

Missing from the top 10 of both practice sessions was series points leader Matt Crafton.

Crafton has five top-10s in his five starts at Iowa Speedway, but finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in Friday’s practices.

The veteran has a 22-point lead over Burton and talked at length about how much he likes the track earlier in the day.

“We’ve ran really, really well here, ThorSport as an organization,” he said. “I always look forward to coming to Iowa. I guess it has always fit my driving style. It’s a short track, but I think it races like a mile-and-a-half to be totally honest. I’ve said that -- I did the very first Goodyear tire test here and this place has the mile-and-a-half feel to it.”

Final practice is scheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET and is the first event in a busy day. Keystone Light Pole qualifying follows at 6 p.m. ET (shown on SPEED on tape delay at 7 p.m. ET), followed by the race at 8:30 p.m. ET (SPEED).


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