Martin Truex Jr. leads 'Big 3' in final Cup practice at New Hampshire

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Martin Truex Jr. leads 'Big 3' in final Cup practice at New Hampshire
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Jul 21, 2018, 5:42 PM

The top three drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series led the way in Saturday’s final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Beer
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light and crew member
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries

Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr., who is still looking for his first win at New Hampshire, ended up with the fastest average lap speed (131.624 mph), which he posted late in the session.

“We’ve been so strong here the past few seasons. It’s always been a really good track for me over the years and, you know, winning K&N races here, winning Xfinity in ’05 and I really want to get that Cup win because this is a special place for me,” Truex said Friday.

“I’ve been coming here a long time since I was a teenager and this place was really a big springboard for my career, you know? Winning here in front of the Cup and Xfinity guys really was a big part of the reason I got an opportunity to drive cars for a living, so it’s a special place for me.”

Kevin Harvick ended up second (131.556 mph) and Kyle Busch was third (131.488 mph). Denny Hamlin, who was fastest in Saturday’s first practice, was fourth and Jimmie Johnson completed the top-five.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.

Shortly after taking to the track to begin his first lap, Kyle Larson hit the wall and suffered some right-rear damage to his No. 42 Chevrolet. He immediately returned to the garage for repairs and eventually made his way back on the track.

About 12 minutes into the session, Michael McDowell spun in Turn 3 and slammed into the wall, coming to a rest in Turn 4 as a fire burned in his left-front wheel well.

 

McDowell will move to a backup car and will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.

“I got on the brakes and immediately the car started to turn around, so it definitely caught me off-guard whatever it was and at that point I was kind of just along for the ride,” McDowell said. “There wasn’t any indication that something was going wrong other than when I was already too late. 

“It kind of felt like a left-rear tire went down to me, but it’s really hard to tell. There’s not a whole lot left of the race car to go through and see what happened first, but either way we’ll roll out a back-up and be ready to go.”

NASCAR added an additional five minutes to the session to help make up for lost time with McDowell’s incident.

With less than five minutes left in the extended session, Landon Cassill slammed into the Turn 3 wall. Cassill will also have to move to a backup car and will start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.

Hamlin and Kasey Kahne were both held out of the final 15 minutes of the practice session, Hamlin for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice at Kentucky and Kahne for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice this weekend at New Hampshire.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 37 28.937     131.624
2 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 42 28.952 0.015 0.015 131.556
3 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 50 28.967 0.030 0.015 131.488
4 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 39 28.974 0.037 0.007 131.456
5 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 37 28.978 0.041 0.004 131.438
6 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 32 29.014 0.077 0.036 131.275
7 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 44 29.036 0.099 0.022 131.175
8 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 38 29.051 0.114 0.015 131.107
9 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 32 29.052 0.115 0.001 131.103
10 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 33 29.060 0.123 0.008 131.067
11 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 43 29.062 0.125 0.002 131.058
12 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 45 29.066 0.129 0.004 131.040
13 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 39 29.091 0.154 0.025 130.927
14 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 26 29.116 0.179 0.025 130.815
15 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 42 29.133 0.196 0.017 130.738
16 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 48 29.153 0.216 0.020 130.649
17 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 30 29.175 0.238 0.022 130.550
18 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 35 29.178 0.241 0.003 130.537
19 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 36 29.200 0.263 0.022 130.438
20 6 united_states Matt Kenseth  Ford 23 29.214 0.277 0.014 130.376
21 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 38 29.269 0.332 0.055 130.131
22 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 34 29.299 0.362 0.030 129.998
23 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 30 29.309 0.372 0.010 129.953
24 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 22 29.334 0.397 0.025 129.843
25 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 28 29.351 0.414 0.017 129.767
26 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 26 29.353 0.416 0.002 129.758
27 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 35 29.378 0.441 0.025 129.648
28 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 29 29.387 0.450 0.009 129.608
29 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 32 29.439 0.502 0.052 129.379
30 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 7 29.572 0.635 0.133 128.798
31 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 21 29.581 0.644 0.009 128.758
32 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 22 29.611 0.674 0.030 128.628
33 72 united_states Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 22 29.824 0.887 0.213 127.709
34 99 united_states Kyle Weatherman  Chevrolet 19 29.957 1.020 0.133 127.142
35 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 32 29.982 1.045 0.025 127.036
36 51 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 24 30.038 1.101 0.056 126.799
37 23 united_states Blake Jones Toyota 26 30.321 1.384 0.283 125.616

 

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