Dale Jr. fastest in final Sonoma practice

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Dale Jr. fastest in final Sonoma practice
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Jun 25, 2016, 12:26 AM

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has never won a Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, led the way in Friday’s final practice.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Earnhardt, who earned a career-best finish of third at Sonoma in 2014, posted his session-best lap of 95.298 mph in his first three laps on the track.

Complete session results

Earnhardt was fourth-fastest in Friday’s first session. Qualifying for Sunday’s race is 2 p.m. ET Saturday.

“I certainly didn’t think we were going to be the ones to beat, to be fast today,” Earnhardt said after the session. “My team has given me an amazing race car. We definitely have a race car that can win this race.”

Casey Mears was second-fastest in the session (95.255 mph) and Denny Hamlin was third (95.243 mph). Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch completed the top-five.

 

Rabbit down

Caution was displayed 18 minutes into the final session when Busch hit a rabbit on the track, causing serious damage to the front ductwork of his No. 18 Toyota.

At almost the same time, Earnhardt radioed to his crew, “There is a bunny rabbit in Turn 7. There’s bunny rabbits everywhere.”

The session was restarted about five minutes later.

“That thing came out of nowhere,” Busch said in the garage, while his Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on his car. “He stopped and we looked eye-to-eye and then it was over.”

Tony Stewart, a two-time winner at Sonoma who was inducted Friday in the Sonoma Wall of Fame, remained unhappy with the performance of his car.

He was 18th in the first session and ended up 17th-fastest in the final session.

“I can’t (expletive) drive this thing,” Stewart said over his team radio as the session came to a close.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray topped Friday’s first session. They were 11th and sixth-fastest in the final session, respectively.

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Sonoma
Location Sonoma Raceway
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Author Jim Utter
Article type Practice report