Chase Elliott tops action-packed final practice

Chase Elliott tops action-packed final practice
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Mar 25, 2017, 7:37 PM

Final practice was a mixed blessing for Chase Elliott at Auto Club Speedway.

Elliott set the early pace in Happy Hour with a speed of 187.480 (38.404-seconds) when the race went green at 11:32 PT — and was still the fastest at the end of the session.

“We had a part come loose on the left front and it’s obviously something that needs to be together to make laps,” Elliott said. "I’m not real sure why it broke or why that happened. It was nothing fancy that we were doing. I was getting into (Turn) 3 at the time. I don’t know if it was some sort of roughness to the race track that bounced it loose, or what. I was really happy with the NAPA Chevy throughout that run. Unfortunately, this now puts us behind. But we’ll look into it and try to get this car fixed for tomorrow. We would love to keep this primary car. I don’t know if we can or not. I know they’ll work hard and try to get it tuned-up for tomorrow.”

But 10 minutes into practice, Elliott radioed to the team, “something broke”. When he drove back into the garage, there was damage on the No. 24 Chevy above the right front tire — but bigger issues than just crinkled sheet metal. The team was concerned with an issue in the left front of the car.

“It definitely put us in a hole,” said Elliott, who had completed 14 laps before bringing the car to the garage. “We’ll try to get it fix, if not, we’ll do something different.”

Martin Truex Jr. was second-fast in single lap runs with a speed of 178.518mph, 0.021-seconds behind Elliott. Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, polesitter Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10.

Jones led the Best 15-Lap Consecutive Average with a run of 39.83-seconds.

"I think it's a really good race car,” Jones said at the end of Happy Hour. "It should be a fun day tomorrow.”

After 15 minutes, Elliott’s day was over. He remained atop the leader board followed by Truex, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.

Larson also tagged the wall, but the damage was merely cosmetic.

With the temperature rising to 62-degrees at the 30-minute mark, the top 10 remained the same in single-lap runs as drivers worked on long runs. Five minutes later, Kyle Busch spun off of Turn 2. He was ninth-quick and was working on his 24th lap.

“Spun it out on exit there,” Busch said. “We’re just missing it a little bit, just something we can’t get right on entry.”

The track returned to green with 11 minutes remaining in the 50-minute session. Larson posted a lap of 38.54-seconds and moved up to fifth on the speed chart (186.814mph). Kevin Harvick moved up to eighth with a lap of 185.706mph.

Kurt Busch also scraped the wall on the closing lap of Happy Hour.

1 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet   38.404     187.480
2 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota   38.425 0.021 0.021 187.378
3 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford   38.489 0.085 0.064 187.066
4 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota   38.504 0.100 0.015 186.994
5 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet   38.541 0.137 0.037 186.814
6 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford   38.550 0.146 0.009 186.770
7 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota   38.719 0.315 0.169 185.955
8 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford   38.771 0.367 0.052 185.706
9 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford   38.809 0.405 0.038 185.524
10 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota   38.810 0.406 0.001 185.519

CLICK HERE for complete session results

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Fontana
Location Auto Club Speedway
Drivers Chase Elliott
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Practice report