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Johnson fastest in first Fontana Cup practice

March 21, 2014, Staff report,

Reigning Cup champion tops charts in return to home stat; Busch, Dillon top NNS sessions

RELATED: Sprint Cup qualifying order

Cup Practice 1 | Full practice results

Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson topped the opening practice leaderboard in his home state Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Johnson's best speed of 188.664 mph, achieved on the first of his seven laps, was enough to best a field of 43 cars.

A pair of Hendrick Motorsports teammates joined Johnson in the top five in Jeff Gordon (second, 188.511 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth, 187.740 mph), while Clint Bowyer (third, 187.774) and Brad Keselowski (fifth, 187.003) completed the top five. 

Last week's winner at Bristol Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards, was 20th on the charts at 184.644 mph, while defending race-winner Kyle Busch (185.066 mph) was 13th.

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, who tangled on a last-lap push to the checkered flag in 2013 that resulted in a wreck, were 11th (185.214) and 22nd (184.398), respectively.

Austin Dillon, the highest rookie on the charts, was 17th at 184.838.

Midway through the session, Landon Cassill took major right side damage after spinning out and hitting the Turn 4 wall. His No. 40 Chevrolet caught on fire and had to be put out with fire extinguishers, but Cassill exited his car without injury. The practice was halted for an extended period while the track was cleaned.

Nationwide Practice 1 | Results

Defending race-winner Kyle Busch got out to a fast start in the weekend's opening NASCAR Nationwide Series practice, topping the charts on Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Busch's best speed of 174.157 mph was fast enough to top a trio of Sprint Cup Series drivers in Kevin Harvick (second, 173.519 mph), Joey Logano (third, 173.281 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (fourth, 173.244 mph). Roush Fenway Racing driver and Nationwide regular Trevor Bayne (fifth, 172.678 mph) rounded out the top five.

Rookie Chase Elliott was sixth in the session at 172.616 mph, followed by fellow rookie Dylan Kwasniewski (172.509 mph) in seventh. Brian Scott (172.505 mph), David Ragan (172.191 mph) and Regan Smith (172.125 mph) finished in eighth through tenth respectively.

Nationwide Practice 2 | Results

Rookie Ty Dillon improved upon his showing in the second and final Nationwide Series practice of the day, besting a field of 38 cars at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday.

Dillon -- who finished 11th the opening session with a speed of 172.101 mph -- had the fastest speed by close to two full mph, beating fellow rookie Chase Elliott's 174.668 mph with his fast lap 176.462 mph.

Another rookie in James Buescher was next on the list at 174.224 mph, while a fourth rookie in Dylan Kwasniewski (173.302 mph) was fourth and Brian Scott (172.931 mph) completed the top five. Defending race-winner Kyle Busch (172.736 mph) was sixth after topping the first practice.

Sprint Cup Series regulars Joey Logano (172.513 mph) and Kevin Harvick (172.236 mph) were eighth and ninth, respectively, while Matt Kenseth (171.731 mph) was 11th.