Defending winner Denny Hamlin fastest in first Darlington practice
Last year’s Southern 500 winner at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Denny Hamlin, led the way in Friday’s first practice session.
Hamlin, who has yet to win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season, posted an average lap speed of 172.287 mph.
Late in the session, Kyle Larson bolted to the No. 2 spot, with an average lap speed of 172.034 mph – the only other drive to cross the 172 mph mark. Brad Keselowski was third (171.998 mph).
Alex Bowman was fourth and Ryan Newman completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola and Paul Menard.
Just six minutes into the session, the engine on Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet let go as smoke poured from his car and fluid dropped on the track. Because he will change engines, McMurray will have to start Sunday night’s race from the rear of the field.
“The motor blew up and that was it,” McMurray said. “It was shaking violently. There were four or five gallons of oil sitting on the race track.”
It was nearly 15 minutes before the track could return to green following the cleanup from McMurray’s incident.
With about 12 minutes remaining in the session, Jones spun out while attempting to return to pit road. He did not hit anything and was able to continue on.
Five teams were penalized practice time for violations at the most recent race weekend, at Bristol.
David Ragan, Timmy Hill and Derrike Cope all had to sit out the final 15 minutes of practice for being late to pre-race inspection. Kyle Busch had to miss the final 15 minutes of practice for failing pre-race inspection at Bristol twice. Austin Dillon sat out the final 30 minutes for failing pre-race inspection three times at Bristol.
|14||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||17||28.849||0.306||0.032||170.460|
|15||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||16||28.853||0.310||0.004||170.436|
|30||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||12||29.349||0.806||0.016||167.556|
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