Kyle Busch tops final Cup practice at Pocono
Kyle Busch waited to the final minutes of Happy Hour before posting the fastest-single lap run amongst 38 Monster Energy Cup Series competitors at Pocono Raceway on Saturday.
Busch posted a speed of 176.824mph (50.898-seconds) making a qualifying run as the final practice session closed out.
Kyle Larson was second quick followed by Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
Busch is still searching for his first win of 2017 — and his first win at Pocono Raceway, one of two tracks on the Cup tour where he has yet to pick up a points win.
Jamie McMurray (173.447mph) led the 55-minute session in the opening stages before Hamlin (175.415mph) topped the No. 1 Chevy after his first lap — eight minutes in. Busch moved up to second with a lap of 175.370mph.
After the first 10 minutes, Hamlin remained fastest followed by Busch, McMurray, Blaney and Johnson.
Chase Elliott climbed up to third after six laps before the 15-minute mark. McMurray dropped to fourth with Blaney, Johnson, Kenseth, Bowyer, Jones and Kahne rounding out the top 10. Kevin Harvick posted the 11th-fastest single lap speed with Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completing the top 15.
Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who received 15-minute practice holds for their teams failing pre-race inspection twice at Indy, were released for practice.
Kyle Busch Busch closed in on Hamlin with a lap of 175.370mph for second on the speed chart over the next five minutes. Elliott (173.705mph) held onto third followed by McMurray and Blaney.
Just past halfway, McMurray bumped Hamlin with a lap of 175.558mph in qualifying trim.
“It feels like there’s no wedge in the car,” Hamlin told his crew. “No stability. I’m loose everywhere and it’s getting tighter and tighter and tighter out of Turn 3.”
Martin Truex Jr. served his 30-minute practice hold for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing failing pre-race inspection three times at the Brickyard.
Kyle Busch remained second followed by Truex, Elliott, Johnson, Blaney, Larson, Kenseth and Bowyer.
With 10 minutes to go in Happy Hour, McMurray held on to the top spot. Six minutes later, his Ganassi Racing teammate Larson knocked him off with a lap of 175.908mph. Hamlin held on to third. In the final moment, Kyle Busch vaulted to the top of the chart.
“I think we have an okay car in qualifying," Larson said. "Race trim, I think we are off quite a bit, especially on lap time. Then the overall feel of the car is not very good either. I’m fighting pretty much everything out there throughout the lap. Just really hard to drive, really inconsistent. It’s really easy to make a mistake. Not a lot of fun to drive, but hopefully, we can get it better and get some more grip in our car. Just kind of off all day, of the last couple of weeks. So, if we can just keep fighting hard and find that balance we need we should be fast.”
|7||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||9||51.422||0.524||0.017||175.022|
|9||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||20||51.586||0.688||0.010||174.466|
|17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||19||51.919||1.021||0.004||173.347|
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|Teams||Joe Gibbs Racing|