Kyle Larson tops first Cup practice; Dillon to a backup car
Kyle Larson, who got off to slow start in last weekend’s opening round of the Chase, topped Friday’s Sprint Cup Series practice session at New Hampshire.
Larson, who finished 18th last Sunday at Chicagoland and is ranked 15th among the 16 Chase drivers, turned in an average lap speed of 135.941 mph to top rookie Chase Elliott (135.893 mph) in Friday’s lone practice.
“It was good, we did qualifying stuff most of practice,” Larson said after the session. “I think I did some things that made our car better and I think our car is better than what we’ve had in the past here.”
Asked what he thought he had for Sunday’s race, Larson said, “We haven’t done any race trim stuff, so I really don’t know.”
Kevin Harvick, who also struggled last weekend at Chicagoland, was third-fastest, Carl Edwards was fourth and last weekend’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr., rounded out the top-five.
In all, eight of the top-speeds in the session were posted by drivers in the Chase. The two exceptions were Kasey Kahne (sixth) and A.J. Allmendinger (eighth).
Late in the session, while Austin Dillon went out for a mock qualifying run, he hit the wall in Turn 1 and did enough damage to his No. 3 Chevrolet that his Richard Childress Racing team was forced to move to their backup car.
Dillon was struggling in practice at the time, ending with the 32nd-fastest lap.
Throughout the practice session, several teams made voluntarily trips through the Laser Inspection Station, likely to ensure they remained in compliance.
Earlier this week, NASCAR eliminated low-level penalties for LIS failure but if a team does fail under the greater leeway, it would be considered an “encumbered finish” and the team would lose all benefits from the finish in qualifying for, or advancing in, the Chase.
Ryan Newman, who ended up 14th fastest, was without crew chief Luke Lambert as he remained back in the Charlotte area to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s third child. Lambert is expected to be at the track Sunday for the race.
Tony Stewart was originally set to sit out the first 15 minutes of practice on Friday after his No. 14 Chevrolet failed pre-race template inspection three times last weekend at Chicagoland.
However, with rain Friday morning and a slight delay in the start of practice, NASCAR allowed Stewart’s team to defer its penalty until next weekend at Dover, Del.
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||14||28.066||0.048||0.006||135.709|
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|Location||New Hampshire Motor Speedway|
|Teams||Chip Ganassi Racing|