Kyle Busch and Toyota lead first Sprint Cup practice at Richmond

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Kyle Busch and Toyota lead first Sprint Cup practice at Richmond
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Sep 9, 2016, 3:18 PM

Kyle Busch led the way as Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota returned to dominance in Friday’s first Sprint Cup Series practice session at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Toyota teams swept four of the top five positions in the 55-minute practice session, with Busch’s average lap speed of 120.979 mph edging out last week’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr.

Busch was also fastest among those drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps (119.781 mph), followed by Truex and his JGR teammate, Carl Edwards.

Busch’s JGR teammates, Denny Hamlin (120.552 mph) and Matt Kenseth (120.208 mph) were third and fifth-fastest, respectively.

The only kink in the Toyota armor came from Kasey Kahne, who turned in the fourth-fastest average lap speed (120.439 mph).

Edwards, who won the spring race at Richmond, came in at eighth fastest (119.776 mph).

“This place is so much fun with the tire and the downforce package,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this race. It should be fun.”

Many teams complained the high temperatures – the thermometer was nearly 90 degrees by the end of the session – would prove of little value when the race is run under the lights on Saturday night.

“The track temp is up, that’s the big killer,” said Chad Johnson, crew chief for driver Kyle Larson, late in the session over the team’s radio.

Chase bubble

McMurray ended up ninth-fastest in the session.

The remainder of sixth through 10th: Jeff Gordon (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh) and Kyle Larson (10th).

The man chasing McMurray in the Chase battle, Ryan Newman, ended the session 18th and was searching to find the balance throughout practice, telling the team to "free up the center and tighten up the exit. That last change did not do that."

The practice session got off to a rough start for Clint Bowyer, who has to win Saturday night’s race in order to make the Chase.

A lap-and-a-half into the session, smoke was pouring from Bowyer’s No. 15 Chevrolet and he was forced into the garage. The team later discovered the problem was residual oil inside the car.

The issue was corrected and Bowyer returned to the track. He ended up 31st-fastest.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 18  Kyle Busch  Toyota 39 22.318     120.979
2 78  Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 28 22.379 0.061 0.061 120.649
3 11  Denny Hamlin  Toyota 54 22.397 0.079 0.018 120.552
4 5  Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 43 22.418 0.100 0.021 120.439
5 20  Matt Kenseth  Toyota 36 22.461 0.143 0.043 120.208
6 88  Jeff Gordon  Chevrolet 45 22.513 0.195 0.052 119.931
7 22  Joey Logano  Ford 39 22.526 0.208 0.013 119.861
8 19  Carl Edwards  Toyota 33 22.542 0.224 0.016 119.776
9 1  Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 32 22.555 0.237 0.013 119.707
10 42  Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 32 22.586 0.268 0.031 119.543

CLICK HERE for complete practice results

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