McMurray tops drafting practice at Talladega
Jamie McMurray set the quick pace in first practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday with a lap of 199.737 mph (47.943-seconds).
McMurray completed 16 laps in the 55-minute practice.
Rookie Chase Elliott, who is making his first start in a Cup car at Talladega, was second fast (199.729 mph) followed by Kurt Busch (199.409 mph), his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick (199.384 mph) and Trevor Bayne (199.317 mph).
“Nice job with this piece,” said Bayne, who was the top Ford in practice. “I’m pretty proud of you. It seems like it’s got some speed in her.”
Although Bayne was pleased with his car’s speed, he reported his floor board was “scalding hot.”
“I haven’t had that issue for a long time in a super speedway car,” Bayne added. “I know other guys have complained about it a lot last year, but this is the first time it’s been burning me.”
Kevin Harvick was sixth in single-lap speeds 199.288 mph. Casey Mears (199.251 mph), Joey Logano (199.247 mph), Kyle Larson (199.243 mph) and Michael McDowell (199.193 mph) rounded out the top 10.
Larson was also fastest in the Best 10 Consecutive Lap Average with a speed of 195.541 mph. Logano was second-quick (195.169 mph) followed by Harvick, Bayne and Denny Hamlin.
Ty Dillon completed 29 laps shaking down the No. 14 Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing. He was 29th in single lap speeds — just 0.943-seconds behind McMurray despite the yellow stripe on the rear bumper of the car.
“It was really good and really comfortable in the car,” Dillon told the crew. “I’m really happy with how the car is handling.”
Prior to first practice teams were discussing how the cars would line up for Sunday’s Geico 500 should qualifying be rained out on Saturday.
Crew chief Greg Ives told the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team and Dale Earnhardt Jr., “If qualifying gets rained out, it's going to be set by points not practice.”
NASCAR confirmed that under rule 18.104.22.168, which covers time trials other than the Daytona 500, “when qualifying has not been completed but one or more practices have occurred…the following will be utilized to assign starting grid positions:
.a Charter Teams will be assigned the first available starting grid positions based on the then-current calendar year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team Owner Championship point standings in descending order.
.b The next available starting grid positions will be assigned to the eligible Open Teams based on their fastest single lap speed posted from the combined Practice session(s) prior to Qualifying, in descending order.
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