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October 7, 2023

Kyle Larson to the back of the pack for Sunday’s Roval race after crash in practice; Wallace fastest

Playoffs drivers Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell each had contact in separate incidents during Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course.

Larson had the more substantial damage to the right-front corner of his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after crunching the Turn 8 retaining wall with two minutes left in the Group A session. Larson drove his car to the garage for repairs, and he was not able to post a qualifying lap, placing him at the rear of the field for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App).

RELATED: Practice results | Weekend schedule

“I just got loose entering (Turn) 8 and over-corrected and got the right-front into the wall,” said Larson, who will take the green flag in 36th in a reserve No. 5 Chevy. “Just kinda gets bouncy over there and just stepped out on me.”

Bell’s contact was less severe, and he continued to practice after scrubbing the outside wall as he approached the backstretch chicane with his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Both Larson and Bell sit above the provisional elimination line heading into Sunday’s event, after which the title-eligible field will be trimmed from 12 drivers to eight. Bell is plus-22 above the line, and Larson holds a 15-point cushion. Larson’s starting spot will likely leave him out of the running for adding to his tally at the stage breaks.

“Well, I don’t think you can go for stage points from 40th,” said Larson. “So I mean the silver lining may be that you can shorten the stages and get your track position that way to be up front for the end of the race because when you go for stage points, you’re restarting like 26th or worse every time. So I think that’s what would be the plan, I guess, going forward.”

23XI Racing teammates Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick went 1-2 on the speed chart in the combined practice, which split the field in half for a pair of 20-minute sessions. Wallace was clocked at 102.295 mph around the 2.32-mile circuit in the No. 23 Toyota, just ahead of Reddick’s 102.210 mph speed in the No. 45 Toyota.

Chase Briscoe was third-fastest overall, with Corey LaJoie and AJ Allmendinger closing out the top five.

Ryan Blaney, last week’s winner at Talladega Superspeedway, grazed the outside retaining wall at the same place at Larson’s shunt — Turn 8 at the exit of the infield section onto the oval portion of the course. Damage to the No. 12 Team Penske Ford appeared to be cosmetic only. Blaney has already advanced to the postseason’s Round of 8 based on his victory at Talladega.

Ty Dillon also found trouble in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevy, popping the barrier at the exit of Turn 1 early in Group A. He was also unable to qualify and will start in the back of the 37-car field, also in a backup car.