Martin Truex Jr. fastest in final Cup practice; Stenhouse wrecks
Martin Truex Jr. completed a sweep atop the leaderboard of both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions on Saturday.
Truex, who was fastest in Saturday’s first session at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, led the way again in the day’s final session, which was completed with a winter storm bearing down on the track.
Truex’s average lap speed of 95.415 mph came very early in the 50-minute session. Truex has never won at the track but finished a career-best second last fall.
Brad Keselowski ended up being second-fastest (95.280 mph) and Daniel Suarez was third (95.242 mph). Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman completed the top-five.
Keselowski has finished fifth or higher in the last four Martinsville races, including a victory in this race one year ago.
“Winning last year was really, really special for me,” Keselowskis said. “This is a special track with the history and tradition of the sport, so having success here kind of ties yourself to those legacies of some of the founders of our sport.
“It means a lot to me. Martinsville is one of those races where I just feel like you don’t kind of win it on luck, you’ve got to really earn it and I enjoy those types of races.”
Rounding out the top 10 were A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney and Clint Bowyer.
Almost 17 minutes into the session, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked in Turn 4, doing significant damage to his No. 17 Ford.
Stenhouse’s Roush Fenway Racing team immediately began working on preparing his backup car, which will force him to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field regardless of where he qualifies.
“I got a really bad wheel-hop going into Turn 3,” Stenhouse said. “Martinsville has always been a tough place for us. Just had too much wheel-hop there and hit the fence.
“That’s been a characteristic of ours at Martinsville for some reason.”
Chase Elliott and Paul Menard missed the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session for violations during inspection.
Elliott ended up 15th in the rundown.
“We’ve got our car where we’re in the middle of the road on balance,” Elliott said. “That’s all you can ask for today.”
|1||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||72||19.846||95.415|
|24||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||78||20.130||0.284||0.003||94.069|
|27||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||24||20.162||0.316||0.005||93.919|
Martin Truex Jr. fastest in Saturday's first Cup practice at Martinsville
Martinsville Cup qualifying rained out; Truex on pole