David Ragan tops final practice at Bristol; Kurt Busch crashes

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David Ragan tops final practice at Bristol; Kurt Busch crashes
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Apr 14, 2018, 4:02 PM

Front Row Motorsports continued its strong weekend performance in Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports, Ford Fusion The Pete Store
David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports, Ford Fusion The Pete Store
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation/Monster Energy
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation/Monster Energy

Team driver David Ragan paced Saturday’s final practice with an average lap speed of 127.487 mph, which he sent early in the session.

Ragan’s FRR teammate, Michael McDowell, who qualified ninth on Friday, ended the final session fifth-fastest (126.295 mph).

Chase Elliott was second-fastest (127.073 mph), Denny Hamlin (126.997 mph) was third and Kurt Busch fourth (126.537 mph).

“Our Front Row Motorsports Fords have a little bit of speed in them. I think the track is going to change a tremendous amount between Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we’ve got to be really methodical on how we adjust our race car and our balance,” Ragan said Saturday.

“Not only is the grip level changing a lot, I think the groove is going to change some. It’s good to know that our cars do have some speed and if we can get the balance close, so we just have to stay on top of the track conditions.”

In the final three minutes of practice, Kurt Busch spun off Turn 2 and slammed into the inside wall, doing extensive damage to his No. 41 Ford.

Busch had qualified second for Sunday’s race. His Stewart-Haas Racing team will have to move to a backup car, which will mean he will have to start the race from the rear of the field.

"I had 45 laps on the tires and was trying to get to 50," said Busch. "The setup changes dramatically with air-pressure builds and the VHT changing, so I was just trying to do as much research as I could," Busch said after the incident. "The lap times were really good in the car and then, boom, there’s just no forgiveness right now with how many variables there are.”

Busch will join SHR Kevin Harvick starting from the rear of the field on Sunday. Harvick wrecked in Friday’s practice and also had to move to a backup car.

Two drivers – Austin Dillon and Landon Cassill – were forced to sit out the final 15 minutes of the practice session because their cars both failed pre-qualifying inspection twice on Friday.

la#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 71 15.051     126.769
2 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 75 15.100 0.049 0.049 126.358
3 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 63 15.109 0.058 0.009 126.282
4 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 69 15.164 0.113 0.055 125.824
5 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 17 15.193 0.142 0.029 125.584
6 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 61 15.204 0.153 0.011 125.493
7 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 70 15.213 0.162 0.009 125.419
8 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 56 15.215 0.164 0.002 125.403
9 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 56 15.219 0.168 0.004 125.370
10 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 95 15.226 0.175 0.007 125.312
11 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 65 15.228 0.177 0.002 125.296
12 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 58 15.255 0.204 0.027 125.074
13 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 55 15.256 0.205 0.001 125.066
14 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 46 15.259 0.208 0.003 125.041
15 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 61 15.260 0.209 0.001 125.033
16 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 48 15.269 0.218 0.009 124.959
17 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 63 15.278 0.227 0.009 124.885
18 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 63 15.291 0.240 0.013 124.779
19 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 65 15.294 0.243 0.003 124.755
20 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 80 15.303 0.252 0.009 124.681
21 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 58 15.305 0.254 0.002 124.665
22 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 68 15.310 0.259 0.005 124.624
23 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 33 15.318 0.267 0.008 124.559
24 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 47 15.321 0.270 0.003 124.535
25 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 34 15.334 0.283 0.013 124.429
26 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 63 15.358 0.307 0.024 124.235
27 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 55 15.367 0.316 0.009 124.162
28 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 93 15.375 0.324 0.008 124.098
29 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 52 15.379 0.328 0.004 124.065
30 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 40 15.386 0.335 0.007 124.009
31 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 6 15.402 0.351 0.016 123.880
32 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 11 15.515 0.464 0.113 122.978
33 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 43 15.523 0.472 0.008 122.914
34 72 united_states Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 25 15.586 0.535 0.063 122.418
35 96 canada D.J. Kennington  Toyota 44 15.721 0.670 0.135 121.366
36 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 31 15.744 0.693 0.023 121.189
37 51 united_states Harrison Rhodes  Chevrolet 45 15.757 0.706 0.013 121.089
38 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 30 15.870 0.819 0.113 120.227
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Bristol
Location Bristol Motor Speedway
Drivers David Ragan
Teams Front Row Motorsports
Author Jim Utter
Article type Practice report