Erik Jones leads Friday practice at Bristol

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Erik Jones leads Friday practice at Bristol
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Apr 21, 2017, 8:11 PM

Double duty paid off for Erik Jones on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After the threat of rain cancelled qualifying for Sunday’s Food City 500, NASCAR elected to schedule three one-hour practice sessions for the K&N Pro Series, Xfinity tour and Monster Energy Cup Series.

Jones, who was second quick in Xfinity Series practice, posted the fastest lap in Cup practice with a speed of 127.643mph. He completed 54 laps. 

“It’s a track that I’ve enjoyed and getting the win there last year in the Xfinity car gives me a lot of confidence coming in to the weekend,” Jones said. “Short tracks have always been tracks where I felt really comfortable, so it’s nice to get back to a short track, especially Bristol. I think it will be good for us. 

“The 77 team has been good this year. We’ve had fast cars, it’s just been a matter of getting our execution sorted out. I think we’ve had top 10 cars every week, except Texas, so hopefully we can go out this weekend and have a solid top 10, if not a top five run and be running up front.”

Five-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch, who posted the second-fastest lap, set the early pace in first practice with a speed of 126.528mph followed by points leader Kyle Larson, Jones, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Landon Cassill and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

After eight minutes, all 39 cars had completed laps with Busch (126.695mph) and  Matt Kenseth (126.637mph) exchanging the top spot on the leader board. 

Ten minutes into the one-hour session, Ryan Blaney shot to the top with a lap of 126.989mph. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson were in the top-five speeds. Larson’s 72 laps completed were the most in the schedule. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., jumped up to fifth-quick 12 minutes in but Larson (126.520mph) regained the position moments later.

Erik Jones topped Blaney 15 minutes into practice with a lap of 127.843mph. Kyle Busch was third followed by Truex, Denny Hamlin, Kenseth, Larson, McMurray, Joey Logano and Stenhouse. 

Half-way through the one-hour exercise, Jones remained in control followed by Kyle Busch, Blaney, Truex and Kenseth. 

Incidents

The first yellow waved for Elliott, who spun off of Turn 4 and down the front stretch 31-minutes into practice. 

“I was experimenting with the bottom lane,” Elliott said. “I was seeing how low I could get to the apron to get a little more grip.”

Practice resumed at the 34-minute mark. With 20 minutes remaining, the top-five speeds remained the same. Kasey Kahne tagged the wall after 36 laps. He was 12th-quick with a lap of 126.104mph. 

With 10 minutes remaining, Elliott and Kahne returned to the track. The second caution flew 49-minutes into the session when Logano tagged the wall in Turn 4. 

There were two of the Fords coming in,” Logano said. “The 10 (Danica Patrick) was trying to let the 4 (Kevin Harvick) go and then I thought the 10 was letting me go and then she went into the corner and that put me in the outside lane, which I didn’t think was a big deal, and it’s just the track was so dirty.

“With all the marbles up there it was like you popped a tire. It just went straight to the wall. It’s amazing how quick it did that. Unfortunately, we got a little damage to our Fusion, but it’s not that’s not fixable. We’ll be able to fix that. Our car was pretty quick. We were making some good changest and learning some good things, so we’ll fix it up and make some good adjustments. We’ll be just fine.”

After practice, Ryan Newman told his team over the radio, “What they did to the race track is horrible.”

Larson also weighed in:

 

"It's very cool anytime you can start from the front," Larson said during a Friday press conference. "Having the No. 1 pit stall will also help us gain confidence on pit road.

"In Xfinity practice, I tried to work the top (groove) in. Nobody was brave enough to go up there and work in the groove. The width of the VHT (grip) is wider than the width of our race cars now which makes it extremely easy to run around the bottom and not a lot of fun.

"Maybe some guys like it, but it looks like old Bristol because we're all running around the bottom (groove) but I just don't see how that is fun."

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 54 15.009     127.843
2 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 62 15.098 0.089 0.089 127.090
3 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 41 15.110 0.101 0.012 126.989
4 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 34 15.113 0.104 0.003 126.964
5 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 58 15.144 0.135 0.031 126.704
6 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 59 15.150 0.141 0.006 126.653
7 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 72 15.166 0.157 0.016 126.520
8 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 57 15.168 0.159 0.002 126.503
9 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 47 15.175 0.166 0.007 126.445
10 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 57 15.181 0.172 0.006 126.395

CLICK HERE for complete practice results

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Bristol
Location Bristol Motor Speedway
Drivers Erik Jones
Teams Furniture Row Racing
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Practice report