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Practice report
NASCAR Cup Darlington

Darlington NASCAR Cup: Michael McDowell fastest in practice

Michael McDowell, who has performed well in practice and qualifying but struggled to match it with race results this season, topped Saturday’s NASCAR Cup practice at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports, Long John Silver's Ford Mustang

The top speeds all came from the first 20-minute session with McDowell's average lap speed of 169.443 mph leading all 36 participants.

McDowell announced earlier this week he was leaving Front Row Motorsports at the end of the 2024 season to join Spire Motorsports in 2025.

Ty Gibbs was second fastest overall (168.566 mph) and Chris Buescher was third (168.457 mph).

Denny Hamlin was fastest in the second 20-minute session (167.761 mph).

Among those drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps, Austin Cindric had the fastest average lap speed (164.645 mph). Buescher and Kyle Larson were second and third, respectively, in that category.

Group B

Hamlin, who has typically run well at Darlington, topped the second 20-minute session with an average lap speed of 167.761 mph. He was ninth-fastest overall, however.

Fellow Toyota driver Bubba Wallace ended up second fastest (167.356 mph) while Larson, who won last fall’s Darlington race, was third (167.197 mph).

Ford drivers Todd Gilliland and Cindric rounded out the top five.

Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney all tagged the wall during the practice, but without much if any damage.

The Fords of Josh Berry and Chase Briscoe and the Chevrolet of Daniel Suarez were among those cars who seemed to struggle in practice and remained near the bottom of the speed chart.

Group A

McDowell led the way in the first 20-minute session with an average lap speed of 169.443 mph.

Gibbs was second quick at 168.566 mph while Buescher was third (168.457 mph).

Christopher Bell and William Byron rounded out the top five. Byron ended up the only Chevrolet driver in the top seven of the session.

Hendrick driver Alex Bowman’s team seemed to struggle in the session, coming in 17th fastest out of the 18 cars participating. Bowman did appear to tag the wall at one point with his No. 48 Chevrolet.

CLA DRIVER # MANUFACTURER LAPS TIME INTERVAL MPH
1 M. McDowellFRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS 34 Ford 28

29.022

  169.444
2
T. GibbsJOE GIBBS RACING
54 Toyota 35

+0.151

29.173

0.151 168.567
3 C. BuescherRFK RACING 17 Ford 29

+0.170

29.192

0.019 168.457
4 C. BellJOE GIBBS RACING 20 Toyota 35

+0.184

29.206

0.014 168.376
5 W. ByronHENDRICK MOTORSPORTS 24 Chevrolet 25

+0.217

29.239

0.033 168.186
6 J. LoganoTEAM PENSKE 22 Ford 34

+0.252

29.274

0.035 167.985
7 E. JonesLEGACY MOTOR CLUB 43 Toyota 31

+0.272

29.294

0.020 167.871
8 C. LajoieSPIRE MOTORSPORTS 7 Chevrolet 21

+0.275

29.297

0.003 167.853
9 D. HamlinJOE GIBBS RACING 11 Toyota 31

+0.291

29.313

0.016 167.762
10 R. Stenhouse JrJTG DAUGHERTY RACING 47 Chevrolet 25

+0.323

29.345

0.032 167.579
11 B. Wallace23XI RACING 23 Toyota 26

+0.362

29.384

0.039 167.356
12 M. Truex JrJOE GIBBS RACING 19 Toyota 20

+0.374

29.396

0.012 167.288
13 N. GragsonSTEWART-HAAS RACING 10 Ford 34

+0.377

29.399

0.003 167.271
14 J. NemechekLEGACY MOTOR CLUB 42 Toyota 35

+0.385

29.407

0.008 167.225
15 K. LarsonHENDRICK MOTORSPORTS 5 Chevrolet 23

+0.390

29.412

0.005 167.197
16 T. GillilandFRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS 38 Ford 35

+0.395

29.417

0.005 167.169
17 A. CindricTEAM PENSKE 2 Ford 35

+0.403

29.425

0.008 167.123
18 T. Reddick23XI RACING 45 Toyota 27

+0.412

29.434

0.009 167.072
19 R. BlaneyTEAM PENSKE 12 Ford 21

+0.413

29.435

0.001 167.066
20 K. BuschRICHARD CHILDRESS RACING 8 Chevrolet 25

+0.439

29.461

0.026 166.919
21 C. ElliottHENDRICK MOTORSPORTS 9 Chevrolet 27

+0.452

29.474

0.013 166.845
22 B. KeselowskiRFK RACING 6 Ford 34

+0.483

29.505

0.031 166.670
23 R. PreeceSTEWART-HAAS RACING 41 Ford 29

+0.494

29.516

0.011 166.608
24 R. ChastainTRACKHOUSE RACING 1 Chevrolet 26

+0.533

29.555

0.039 166.388
25 D. KrausKAULIG RACING 16 Chevrolet 28

+0.539

29.561

0.006 166.354
26
C. HocevarSPIRE MOTORSPORTS
77 Chevrolet 24

+0.546

29.568

0.007 166.315
27 J. HaleyRICK WARE RACING 51 Ford 30

+0.575

29.597

0.029 166.152
28 J. BerrySTEWART-HAAS RACING 4 Ford 28

+0.608

29.630

0.033 165.967
29 C. BriscoeSTEWART-HAAS RACING 14 Ford 35

+0.620

29.642

0.012 165.900
30 A. BowmanHENDRICK MOTORSPORTS 48 Chevrolet 27

+0.666

29.688

0.046 165.643
31
Z. SmithSPIRE MOTORSPORTS
71 Chevrolet 28

+0.745

29.767

0.079 165.203
32 D. SuarezTRACKHOUSE RACING 99 Chevrolet 31

+0.751

29.773

0.006 165.170
33 K. GralaRICK WARE RACING 15 Ford 33

+0.799

29.821

0.048 164.904
34 D. HemricKAULIG RACING 31 Chevrolet 20

+0.828

29.850

0.029 164.744
35 A. DillonRICHARD CHILDRESS RACING 3 Chevrolet 29

+0.876

29.898

0.048 164.479
36 H. BurtonWOOD BROTHERS RACING 21 Ford 32

+0.935

29.957

0.059 164.155

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