Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images

McMurray leads final Talladega practice before wrecking in ‘The Big One’

Jamie McMurray topped the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice chart at Talladega Superspeedway – before he wrecked hard in “The Big One” about five minutes into the 50-minute session Friday.

McMurray recorded a speed of 203.975 mph in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet before he cut a left rear tire while practicing the draft in close quarters.

As McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet turned sideways after the tire went down, it collided with the No. 31 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman behind him and went airborne. McMurray barrel rolled down the backstretch and settled near the inside track wall. He quickly emerged from the car and was taken to the infield care center where he was treated and released.

RELATED: McMurray spins in ‘The Big One’ | McMurray describes wreck

“I just kept my eyes closed … and hoped it landed upright so I could get out,” McMurray told FOX.

Also sustaining damage in the wreck were the No. 14 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon and the No. 19 Toyota of Daniel Suarez. All four involved in the wreck were forced to backup cars.

After leading the first practice session, Dillon was second-fastest in the final practice at 203.610 mph. Suarez was third at 203.079 mph. Erik Jones in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (202.830 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota (202.770 mph) rounded out the top five.

For the rest of the practice session after the wreck, cars traveled primarily in single-file order rather than practicing in the draft.

Twenty of the 38 cars recorded speeds of 200 mph or faster in the final practice session.

Monster Energy Series cars return to the track Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET (FOX) for Busch Pole Award Qualifying.


Ty Dillon topped the board for Friday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway ahead of Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Dillon got around the 2.66-mile Alabama track in his No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet with a fast lap of 202.959 mph and was one of nine drivers to top 200 mph on a single lap. In two starts at Talladega, Dillon has two top-13 finishes and holds the best average finish (12.0) among active drivers.

Joining Dillon at the top of the charts were Daniel Suarez and Kyle Busch. The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates each ran a fast lap of 202.680 mph. Busch is looking for his fourth-straight win of the 2018 season as he looks to sweep the month of April.

Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin (No. 11 JGR Toyota, 202.671 mph) and Ryan Newman (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing, 202.637 mph). Practice saw a mix of drafting packs as well as some single-car runs.

RELATED:  Full schedule for Talladega | Fantasy advice

Defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 29th in his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

Twelve teams had to serve 15-minute practice holds at the end of the 50-minute session at Talladega. The No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Ross Chastain, the No. 19 driven by Suarez, the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford driven by David Ragan and the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Ford driven by Timmy Hill served holds for being late to qualifying inspection last weekend at Richmond Raceway. The No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford driven by Kurt Busch and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. served 15-minute holds for being late to race inspection at Richmond.

In addition, the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driven by Trevor Bayne, the No. 13 driven by Dillon and the No. 20 JGR Toyota driven by Erik Jones served holds for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice at Richmond. The No. 23 BK Racing Toyota driven by Gray Gaulding, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford driven by Michael McDowell and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson served holds for failing pre-race inspection twice.

MORE: Best photos from Talladega