Aric Almirola surged atop the speed chart in Friday’s final Monster Energy Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.
Almirola’s Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford snared the top spot with a best lap of 188.561 mph at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval. The effort bookended another chart-topping performance the Stewart-Haas organization, which led the way with Clint Bowyer in the opening session.
Denny Hamlin claimed the second-fastest lap at 188.350 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He’ll be vying for a season sweep of Texas’ two races in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM)
Bowyer followed his earlier showing up with a third-fastest lap in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford in final practice. Fellow SHR driver Kevin Harvick, a two-time Texas winner, was fourth-fastest with Kurt Busch completing the top five.
Sunday’s race is the eighth of 10 races in the Monster Energy Series Playoffs. It’s the second event in the Round of 8, the final three-race series that will determine the four-driver championship field for the Nov. 17 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rookie John Hunter Nemechek was 32nd-fastest in the Front Row Motorsports No. 36 Ford ahead of what’s set to be his Monster Energy Series debut. The Xfinity Series regular was announced Tuesday as the team’s fill-in driver for the final three races, taking the place of Matt Tifft, who is recovering from a seizure suffered last weekend at Martinsville.
Coors Light Pole Qualifying to set the starting lineup is scheduled for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET.=
Bowyer best in first Texas practice
Clint Bowyer stepped up to the top of the Monster Energy Series leaderboard Friday in opening practice at Texas Motor Speedway.
Bowyer sealed a best speed of 188.679 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford to pace the 50-minute session, the first on-track activity ahead of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Kurt Busch was the second-fastest driver on the speed chart with a lap of 188.574 mph in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. Denny Hamlin, a winner at the Fort Worth venue’s most recent race in March, was third-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. landed the fourth-best lap with Erik Jones completing the top five.
Kevin Harvick, winner of the last two November races at the 1.5-mile track, was 10th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford.
Two teams were penalized with 15-minute practice deductions for being late out of the garage for qualifying last Saturday at Martinsville: The No. 12 Team Penske Ford for driver Ryan Blaney and the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Ford for JJ Yeley.