Joey Logano claimed the honor of posting the fastest lap in the first NASCAR Cup Series practice session at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Logano wheeled his No. 22 Ford around the 1.25-mile oval with the quickest lap speed of 136.753 mph while his Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney (136.260 mph) and Austin Cindric (136.104 mph) followed in hot pursuit. At 136.096 mph, Kurt Busch was fourth and the fastest Toyota. Erik Jones was the fastest Chevrolet in fifth with a best lap of 136.001 mph.
Some teams battled left-rear tire issues during the 50-minute practice session, the longest afforded to teams since Daytona International Speedway in February. Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman each suffered flats, as did Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola and 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace.
Ben Rhodes, practicing the No. 16 Chevrolet for AJ Allmendinger who was busy practicing his Xfinity Series at Portland International Raceway, was the first to find serious trouble Friday evening. The defending Camping World Truck Series champion had an issue entering Turn 3 just 10 minutes into the session, sending him sliding hard into the outside wall and collecting right-side damage.
Parker Kligerman, making his first Cup start of the season, had his practice end early when his No. 15 Ford for Rick Ware Racing caught fire. Kligerman, who has competed in five Truck Series races this year, exited the car under his own power and was unharmed.
Completing the top 10 in practice were Tyler Reddick, Almirola, Larson, Ross Chastain and Kyle Busch in order.
Zane Smith, making his Cup debut in the No. 17 RFK Racing Ford as Chris Buescher sits out due to COVID protocol, was 26th-fastest at 134.332 mph.