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Martin Truex Jr. sets pace in Cup practice

November 15, 2013, Staff report,

Three remaining championship contenders all place outside top 10

RELATED: Full Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage | Practice results

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Martin Truex Jr. set the pace in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway as the three championship contenders all logged spots outside the top 10.

Series leader Jimmie Johnson, who holds a 28-point lead entering Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400, was the fastest of the three, logging the 11th-fastest lap at 175.194 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. His time was nearly three tenths of a second slower than Truex's fast lap of 176.661 mph.

Matt Kenseth, second in the title hunt, was 19th-best at 174.531 mph in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kevin Harvick, third in the title race and 34 points behind Johnson, was 16th-fastest in opening practice at 174.944 mph in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Truex, who has three top-10 finishes in his last four Homestead races, will be making his final start in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 56 Toyota in Sunday's 400.5-mile race. He was followed by Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer and rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the top five.

Defending race winner Jeff Gordon, currently sixth in Sprint Cup points, was seventh-fastest on the first practice leaderboard.

Practice began approximately 10 minutes late because of a light rain shower, forcing NASCAR officials to extend the session five minutes beyond its 3 p.m. ET end time. Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup season finale is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET. on ESPN2.



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