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May 5, 2014

Dale Jr. tops opening Coca-Cola 600 practice

Hendrick Motorsports driver paces field with fastest lap

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Sprint Cup Series Practice | Results

Faster than a speeding bullet, indeed.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lived up to the standards set by the paint scheme adorned on his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports ride this weekend — which is Superman inspired — by pulling the fastest lap by a wide margin in opening practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday.

Earnhardt, who is looking for his first Charlotte victory in his 29th attempt, had a best speed of 193.264 mph on his first of seven laps around the 1.5-mile track. It was enough to beat Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick’s 192.164 mph. Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson pulled in the garage with a best speed of 192.014 mph, good for third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (191.782 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (191.775 mph) to round out the top five. Harvick is the defending race-winner.

Kurt Busch, who plans to run both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, was eighth at 191.042 mph. Parker Kligerman is on standby if Busch should need a fill-in driver.

Danica Patrick, fresh off the best Sprint Cup finish of her career (seventh) at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago, placed ninth with a speed of 190.799 mph.

Brad Keselowski, who won at Charlotte last fall, finished 21st on the board at 189.500.

Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race winner Jamie McMurray was 24th with a speed of 189.221 mph.

There was one caution for debris in an otherwise clean practice session.

Sprint Cup practice gets back underway on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET (FOX Sports 1).

Nationwide Series Practice 1 | Results

A week after ceding his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to a race-winning Sam Hornish Jr. at Iowa Speedway, everything started off well for Kyle Busch as he got back behind the wheel of his Nationwide Series ride in opening practice for the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday.

Busch’s speed of 178.524 mph was leading the charts halfway through the session before Richard Childress Racing’s Brian Scott topped him at 178.684 mph — and then matters got worse, as Busch got loose and wrecked along the inside wall, taking heavy front and rear damage. He is the defending race-winner, sweeping both events at Charlotte in 2013.

The wreck brought out the practice’s first caution and the veteran driver may be forced to a backup car, meaning that he could start at the back of the pack in Saturday’s History 300 (2:45 p.m. ET, ABC). FOX Sports 1 later reported that Busch was not going to a backup car, but that Joe Gibbs Racing would take the primary back to the shop and fix it there.

Scott managed to hold onto the top spot, while Busch’s teammate Matt Kenseth was third on the leaderboard at 178.241 mph, followed by Brad Keselowski (178.183 mph) and Kevin Harvick (177.725 mph).

Series points leader Chase Elliott (177.526 mph) and his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith (177.160 mph) were seventh and eighth, respectively.

A second caution was thrown late in the session for debris in Turn 2.

Final practice gets underway at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

Nationwide Series Practice 2 | 5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 | Results

Chase Elliott led the final Nationwide Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, posting a high speed of 178.330 mph on his first lap.

The recent high school grad was seventh-fastest in the first practice session.

Second-fastest was Brian Scott with a speed of 178.183 mph. Scott stole the lead position in the first practice after Kyle Busch spun and crashed.

Following Scott was Regan Smith (177.346 mph), Dylan Kwasniewski (177.322 mph) and Kevin Harvick (177.247 mph), putting all three JR Motorsports drivers in the top five.

John Wes Townley spun on the front stretch and brought out the only caution of the final session.

Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying will take place Saturday at 10:40 a.m. ET with coverage on ESPN2.


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