Hamlin tops opening Sprint Cup practice at Bristol

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Hamlin tops opening Sprint Cup practice at Bristol
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Apr 15, 2016, 4:48 PM

Denny Hamlin, who won the most recent pole at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, led the way in a mostly incident-free practice session on Friday.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Late in the session, when most Sprint Cup teams were making qualifying runs, Hamlin claimed the fastest single-lap average speed with a run at 128.666 mph. It came on the last of the 19 laps he ran in the nearly 1½-hour session.

Hamlin, whose only Cup win at Bristol came in 2012, has won three of the last five poles at Bristol.

Martin Truex Jr. posted the second-fastest speed in the session, followed by Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray. Last year’s race winner, Matt Kenseth, was 11th fastest.

In the only serious incident in the session, Michael Annett was forced to pit road late in the session with smoke in his cockpit.

As it turned out, a small fire erupted in the car and the fire extinguishing system was activated, covering the interior of his No. 46 Chevrolet.

“It something on the master switch,” a team member said over the radio.

Casey Mears posted the fastest 10-lap average speed at 121.472. However, Mears, along with rookies Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher, were the only ones to run at least 10 consecutive laps.

Mears also ran the most laps in the session (43).

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