Earnhardt fastest in Charlotte Happy Hour

Earnhardt fastest in Charlotte Happy Hour

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driving the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated No. 8 Chevy posted the fastest time during final practice for NEXTEL Cup teams at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Earnhardt's lap of 184.351 mph bested the field by almost five ...

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. driving the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated No. 8 Chevy posted the fastest time during final practice for NEXTEL Cup teams at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Earnhardt's lap of 184.351 mph bested the field by almost five miles-per-hour.

Dale Earnhardt Jr..
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Earnhardt hopes the fast lap times puts him in contention for the win on Sunday evening, "It would really be special. That's the longest race of the season. At every big event - whether it be at Daytona or Charlotte - seems to have its own little twist and piece of history. The 600 is more of the more historic races that sort of lined up next to the Southern 500 if you will in the history of the sport. S

"So it means a lot to me and to a lot of the drivers. A lot of veterans really understand the importance of that race. It's a big deal. It's hard to win. It's hard to get a good competitive car to be strong for such a long period of time all night long. We've run good in the race but haven't been able to put it together in the end, so hopefully we've got what it takes this year."

Teammate John Andretti, running a limited schedule of 8-12 races in the No. 1 DEI Chevy, clocked the second fastest lap, with a 179.366 mph. Kevin Harvick was the quickest of the Richard Childress Racing stable of drivers, posting a lap of 179.235 mph for third place.

"The biggest thing about this race is that it starts during the day and winds up running into the night," said Harvick. "The car goes through drastic changes through the race, and that's the key to winning it. It's starting off with your car tight enough so that you can run until the sun goes behind the grandstands, and the track becomes completely shaded and starts to tighten back up and gain a lot of speed.

"There is a fine line in balancing your racecar and making it so that you can go through and keep up with each segment during the race."

Ryan Newman and Brian Vickers complete the top five fastest machines.

Jimmie Johnson.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Pole sitter Jimmie Johnson lost some speed, grabbing only the 12th quickest lap at 178.554 mph. "We fell off just a little bit," said Johnson. "But we will work on it and be fine for Sunday."

Notably, Brendan Gaughan smacked his primary car during the third lap of final practice, and will have to start the Coca-Cola 600 in his back-up.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , John Andretti , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Brendan Gaughan , Brian Vickers , Eric Gilbert
Teams Richard Childress Racing