Defending winner Denny Hamlin fastest in first Darlington practice

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Defending winner Denny Hamlin fastest in first Darlington practice
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Aug 31, 2018, 7:17 PM

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.

Cla # Driver 4506 Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 18 28.543     172.287
2 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 11 28.585 0.042 0.042 172.034
3 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 21 28.591 0.048 0.006 171.998
4 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 23 28.594 0.051 0.003 171.980
5 31 United States Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 28 28.603 0.060 0.009 171.926
6 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 26 28.611 0.068 0.008 171.878
7 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 21 28.633 0.090 0.022 171.746
8 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 23 28.640 0.097 0.007 171.704
9 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 21 28.666 0.123 0.026 171.548
10 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 22 28.720 0.177 0.054 171.226
11 95 United States Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 23 28.751 0.208 0.031 171.041
12 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 23 28.795 0.252 0.044 170.780
13 19 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 17 28.817 0.274 0.022 170.649
14 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 17 28.849 0.306 0.032 170.460
15 78 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 16 28.853 0.310 0.004 170.436
16 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 24 28.881 0.338 0.028 170.271
17 41 United States Kurt Busch  Ford 18 28.897 0.354 0.016 170.177
18 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 19 28.919 0.376 0.022 170.047
19 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 24 28.943 0.400 0.024 169.906
20 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 23 28.950 0.407 0.007 169.865
21 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 22 28.977 0.434 0.027 169.707
22 6 United States Matt Kenseth  Ford 17 29.033 0.490 0.056 169.380
23 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 22 29.043 0.500 0.010 169.321
24 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 20 29.044 0.501 0.001 169.316
25 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 17 29.101 0.558 0.057 168.984
26 32 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 24 29.166 0.623 0.065 168.607
27 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 22 29.167 0.624 0.001 168.602
28 47 United States A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 20 29.172 0.629 0.005 168.573
29 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 15 29.333 0.790 0.161 167.647
30 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 12 29.349 0.806 0.016 167.556
31 96 United States Jeffrey Earnhardt  Toyota 21 29.808 1.265 0.459 164.976
32 72 United States Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 17 29.846 1.303 0.038 164.766
33 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 14 30.055 1.512 0.209 163.620
34 52 United States J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 1 30.112 1.569 0.057 163.310
35 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 15 30.537 1.994 0.425 161.037
36 66 United States Timmy Hill  Toyota 2 30.902 2.359 0.365 159.135
37 23 United States Joey Gase  Toyota 13 31.026 2.483 0.124 158.499
38 51 United States B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 3 31.083 2.540 0.057 158.209
39 1 United States Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 1 38.924 10.381 7.841 126.339
40 99 United States Derrike Cope  Chevrolet        
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Darlington
Author Jim Utter
Article type Practice report