Kevin Harvick, who is still searching for his first Sprint Cup Series win at Texas Motor Speedway, led the way in Friday’s lone practice session.
Harvick topped the speed chart with an average lap speed of 196.685 mph, just holding off Carl Edwards (196.278 mph). Harvick is the only driver still in the Chase who has not won a Cup race at Texas.
Harvick and Edwards could use the most help with a victory this weekend. They are two of the four drivers currently on the outside looking in to make the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson locked himself into the Championship 4 with his win last weekend at Martinsville, Va.
“We were really fast here in the spring,” Edwards said after practice. “Our car is good. We have to win this race and we need to translate this speed we have right now into race trim.
“We have the team to do it.”
Matt Kenseth was third-fastest, Joey Logano fourth, Ryan Blaney fifth, Chase Elliott sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Kyle Larson eighth, A.J. Allmendinger ninth and Casey Mears was 10th.
Three drivers still in the Chase failed to crack the Top 10: Denny Hamlin was 15th, Kyle Busch was 22nd and Johnson was 33rd.
Kyle Busch found trouble before he even completed a lap on the track.
Busch had just left the garage very early in the session when he got loose (an early report had a right-front tire going down) and he pancaked the right side of his No. 18 Toyota in the Turn 4 wall.
Busch’s team almost immediately began working to bring out his backup car. He eventually made it out to the track with the new car after a 53-minute delay.
Busch was able to complete four laps of practice in his backup car.
Only two drivers completed at least 10 consecutive laps during the practice session, with Chase Elliott topping Brian Scott in best average speed.