Alex Bowman stays fast, sweeps Cup Series practices in Fontana


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Alejandro Alvarez
NASCAR Digital Media

Alex Bowman surged to snag the fastest lap in final NASCAR Cup Series practice at Auto Club Speedway, sweeping the top spot of both Friday sessions.

Bowman backed up his opening practice performance with a 176.626 mph in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He was just ahead of Ryan Blaney, who posted the second-best speed at 176.186 mph in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

RELATED: Final practice results | Weekend schedule

Bubba Wallace logged a 176.177 mph lap in the Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Chevrolet to place third on the leaderboard in the final tune-up for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kurt Busch and rookie Christopher Bell filled out the top five in that order in the 50-minute final run.

Kyle Busch, a four-time Auto Club winner, was 10th fastest, but his Joe Gibbs Racing crew was forced into repair mode after the No. 18 Toyota scraped the outside retaining wall roughly 15 minutes into the final session. He returned to the track with minimal right-side damage.

Ross Chastain, making his second straight substitute start in place of the injured Ryan Newman, notched the 11th-best lap in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. He was 14th fastest in first practice.

Busch Pole Qualifying is set for Saturday at 2:35 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Four teams served penalties in final practice because of inspection issues during last weekend’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The following teams sat out the final 15 minutes of practice: No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for driver Chase Elliott, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Michael McDowell and the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Ford of JJ Yeley. The No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet for driver Garrett Smithley missed the final 30 minutes of final practice.

Bowman also swift in opening practice

Alex Bowman swooped to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series leaderboard Friday in opening practice at Auto Club Speedway.

A top-of-the-heap lap of 179.439 mph around the 2-mile California track put Bowman’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet atop the early speed chart. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark his fifth start at the track, with Bowman still seeking his first top-10 finish.

RELATED: Practice 1 results

Former Auto Club winner Kyle Larson posted the second-fastest lap at 177.703 mph in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet. Rookie Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch and Matt DiBenedetto completed the top five in order in the 50-minute tune-up. The top four were all in Chevrolets.

Daytona 500 champ Denny Hamlin was 12th fastest in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Ross Chastain, making his second straight substitute start in place of the injured Ryan Newman, notched the 14th-best lap in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

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