Erik Jones leads Cup practice at Charlotte; Kyle Larson hits wall

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Erik Jones leads Cup practice at Charlotte; Kyle Larson hits wall
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
May 25, 2017, 7:53 PM

Erik Jones led the way in Friday’s lone Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Jones, who ran very well in last weekend’s Monster Energy Open during All-Star Race activities, posted an average lap speed of 192.713 mph to lead the way in the one-hour, 25-minute session.

Jimmie Johnson was second-fastest (192.472 mph), Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin tied for fourth (192.465 mph) and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five (192.150 mph).

While attempting a mock qualifying run late in the session, Larson hit the Turn 2 wall on exit and did what his team described as “quite a lot of damage” to his No. 42 Chevrolet.

It was Larson’s ninth lap of the session and he immediately took his car to the garage. At the conclusion of practice, his Chip Ganassi team was undecided whether it would move to a back-up car before Thursday night’s qualifying session.

“I haven’t run the top (lane) yet. I went into (Turn) 1 and got really tight and never got wide-open and hammered the wall pretty good. It caught me off-guard, really,” Larson said.

“I’m disappointed.”

Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer also tagged the Turn 2 wall during the session, but their incidents did not appear very serious.

“Things are good. We had a Goodyear tire test a couple weeks ago and we tried lots of different stuff,” Busch said. “We’re really doing our homework on qualifying trim right now.

“When you put VHT on the track, it’s kind of like drag-racing. It’s very inconsistent when you’re driving through it and when you’re not driving through it.”

To help encourage drivers to utilize the upper racing groove in the corners, track officials have been applying a VHT resin to the upper groove and running a tire machine over the area.

The session was halted briefly twice in the first 30 minutes to clear debris from the track.

In his first run on the track, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. nearly hit the wall but made a great save that prevented his No. 17 Ford from receiving any damage.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 9 28.021     192.713
2 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 8 28.056 0.035 0.035 192.472
3 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 8 28.057 0.036 0.001 192.465
4 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 9 28.057 0.036 0.000 192.465
5 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 5 28.103 0.082 0.046 192.150
6 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 9 28.141 0.120 0.038 191.891
7 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 9 28.141 0.120 0.000 191.891
8 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 9 28.142 0.121 0.001 191.884
9 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 8 28.159 0.138 0.017 191.768
10 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 9 28.189 0.168 0.030 191.564

CLICK HERE for complete practice results

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