Chase Elliott led final practice on Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, but Martin Truex Jr., who was out front for most of the session, made news by making a shifting mistake that will force him to start from the rear in Sunday’s race. Truex went from second gear to first instead of correctly into third and damaged the engine of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota enough to necessitate a change. Truex told NBCSN that it was the first time in his career he’s made a shifting mistake like that.
“We had a good qualifying effort yesterday (eighth),” Truex said. “It’s just going to be hard starting from the back and I hate all the extra work for my guys. I apologize to them. I’m not sure how it happened. I had one other issue today with a shift in the gate. I don’t know if it was just an issue that was right there on the edge and I just screwed it up a little bit that one time, but we’ll have to look at it a little bit further.”
RELATED: Practice 3 results
Truex wasn’t the only driver to have trouble in final practice as Jimmie Johnson, who led the opening practice Friday, banged the wall in Turn 2 and damaged the left-rear quarter panel of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Johnson’s damage appeared to be repairable, though, which is better than his teammate Alex Bowman could say about the No. 88 Chevrolet. Bowman blasted the wall in the infield section of the course with fewer than 45 seconds left in the 50-minute session, doing significant damage to the right-rear quarter panel and the right-front near the splitter.
His crew immediately took out his backup car, which would mean Bowman, who was slated to start second, would start at the rear.
WATCH: Johnson hits wall
Behind Elliott (at 102.101 mph) was Truex in second place at 102.009 mph. Brad Keselowski (101.891 mph), Clint Bowyer (101.775 mph) and Michael McDowell (101.756 mph) rounded out the top five in final practice. Pole winner William Byron was seventh at 101.640 mph.
Defending race winner Ryan Blaney topped the leaderboard in Saturday’s opening practice at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. Blaney wheeled his No. 12 Team Penske Ford around the 2.28-mile Roval at 101.882 mph in the second Monster Energy Series session of the weekend. Blaney won last year’s inaugural road-course race when Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. spun at the finish, opening the door for him to drive through for the win.
There were also some spins and anxious moments in Saturday’s practice that were noteworthy. Kyle Busch spun in Turn 4 and made contact with the wall, damaging the left-rear quarter panel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Busch went to the garage for repairs but did not appear to need a backup car.
Later on, Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman were among the drivers who blew threw the backside chicane, which was redesigned for the 2019 race. Both will need to hit their marks a little better by the time Sunday’s race, the Bank of America Roval 400, rolls around (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Ryan Preece (101.445 mph), Joey Logano (101.388 mph), Johnson (101.290 mph) and Denny Hamlin (101.228 mph) rounded out the top five in order. Hamlin was in his backup car after wrecking the No. 11 JGR Toyota in opening practice Friday.