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Keselowski, Larson top final practices at Michigan

RELATED: Final practice resultsBest 10-lap times at Michigan 

Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski continued to showcase speed in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford, as he topped the leaderboard at 200.865 mph in Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway.

Series points leader Martin Truex Jr. came up second, his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota recording a top speed of 200.172 mph. Team Penske’s Joey Logano was third-fastest (199.734 mph) in his No. 22 Ford, while Wood Brothers Racing’s Ryan Blaney ranked fourth on the speed charts with a fast lap of 199.673 mph in his No. 21 Ford. A 199.529 mph-lap from Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his final start at Michigan in full-time premier series competition, finished the session sixth-fastest with a top speed of 199.463 mph in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Kevin Harvick (late to pre-qualifying, pre-race inspection at Watkins Glen), as well as Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson and Erik Jones (failing pre-qualifying inspection at Michigan twice) all served 15-minute practice holds in this practice.

Midway through the final session, Johnson slid upward and made hard contact with the wall, sustaining heavy damage on the right side of his No. 48 Chevrolet. The team will go to a backup car and will start at the rear of the field.

“Just lost it on corner entry getting into Turn 1,” Johnson said. “The first lap at speed and the thing just rotated around. The effort level is high and you’ve got to run in there committed.  I did so and unfortunately the rear grip just wasn’t there in the car and around it came.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne brushed the wall as well during the 50-minute session. After evaluating the damage, the No. 5 team also elected to bring out the backup car for Kahne.

The Monster Energy Series is back on track on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET for the Pure Michigan 400 (NBCSN).

Larson sets pace in Saturday’s early practice

RELATED: Full Practice 2 results

Kyle Larson turned the fastest lap in Saturday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway, piloting his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at 202.532 mph. Larson will roll off the grid ninth in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Polesitter Brad Keselowski was second-fastest, wheeling his No. 2 Team Penske Ford at 202.332 mph. The Michigan native has yet to win a Monster Energy Series event at his home track.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson ranked third on the speed charts, clocking a fast lap of 202.310 mph in his No. 48 Chevrolet. Friday’s opening practice leader Ryan Blaney was next in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford (202.003 mph) and Chase Elliott completed the top five in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (201.884 mph).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Christopher Bell took his first laps in a Monster Energy Series car during the opening session, running 20 laps in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Bell is on standby for Denny Hamlin, whose longtime girlfriend Jordan Fish is past her due date with the couple’s second child.

RELATED: Bell on standby for Hamlin

Hamlin was 15th on the leaderboard when he ceded the seat to Bell with approximately 20 minutes remaining in practice.

Three drivers — Derrike Cope, Landon Cassill and AJ Allmendinger — served 15-minute practice penalties for being late to pre-qualifying inspection.

The early morning practice session was the first of two on Saturday in the Irish Hills. The 50-minute final practice is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET. Television coverage is on NBCSN.

Matt DiBenedetto has been sent to the rear of the field for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) due to failing pre-qualifying inspection at Michigan four times; he also will serve a 30-minute hold in final practice.

Mark All Unread | Mark All Read