Hamlin tops Friday Cup practice, teammate Suarez crashes

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Hamlin tops Friday Cup practice, teammate Suarez crashes
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Mar 31, 2017, 5:11 PM

First practice for the STP 500 was delayed on Friday due to early morning rains at Martinsville Speedway.

At the end of the 47-minute session, Denny Hamlin vaulted to the top of the speed laps for single-lap speeds followed by Busch, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray.

In the first 10 minutes, the caution flag flew after brake smoke came out of the No. 13 of Ty Dillon. Track workers picked up debris and the shortened-session continued.

Paul Menard had posted the fastest single-lap speed at the time of the delay with a lap of 93.794mph followed by Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

Joey Logano jumped to the top of the speed chart (19.983-sec) 15 minutes into the session after 36 drivers had posted a time. Denny Hamlin (19.999-sec.) moved up to second on his first run but complained his car was tight when he was on the throttle.

Twenty-five minutes in, Logano remained on top with Hamlin, Blaney, Menard and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five speeds.

Kyle Busch moved up to third-quick 30-minutes into the first session followed by Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Blaney, Menard, Jimmie Johnson and AJ Allmendinger.

Moments later, Daniel Suarez felt he wheel-hopped through Turn 3 and bounced the right-rear of the No. 19 Toyota off of the wall to bring out the red flag. The team went to work pulling out the backup car.

“It just wheel hopped," explained the Cup rookie. "I don’t know what was going on with my brakes. It was something weird. On the first run I felt something similar. Something was weird with my brakes and I just wheel hopped and here we are.”

Practice returned to green with less than 10 minutes remaining in the session. Just before the 40-minute mark, Bowyer rose to first on the board with a lap of 94.889mph in qualifying trim. Blaney moved up to second and radioed to the crew, “I think I have the brake figured out.”

Logano dropped to third followed by Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Busch bounced up to first 41-minutes into the session with a lap of 95.060mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed into the top-five speeds shortly after with a lap of 94.713mph.

Just before the 44-minute mark, Ryan Newman moved up to second (94.908mph). McMurray was third in qualifying trim (94.889mph). With a minute remaining, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Kyle Busch had secured the first and second spots on the board and last week’s winner, Larson, took over third.

Four drivers were scheduled to serve 15-minute penalties due to inspection infractions. However, with the shortened practice session, the holds were deferred for Blaney (late to qualifying inspection at Auto Club Speedway), Trevor Bayne and Denny Hamlin (for failing pre-race inspection). Jeffrey Earnhardt, whose No. 33 team earned penalties in both categories, deferred one penalty and serves the other.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota   19.879     95.256
2 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota   19.920 0.041 0.041 95.060
3 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet   19.952 0.073 0.032 94.908
4 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet   19.956 0.077 0.004 94.889
5 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford   19.956 0.077 0.000 94.889
6 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford   19.970 0.091 0.014 94.822
7 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford   19.983 0.104 0.013 94.761
8 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota   19.993 0.114 0.010 94.713
9 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet   19.993 0.114 0.000 94.713
10 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet   20.016 0.137 0.023 94.604

CLICK HERE for complete practice results

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Martinsville
Location Martinsville Speedway
Drivers Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Practice report