Denny Hamlin tops final Cup practice at Texas
Missing half of Happy Hour didn’t hamper Denny Hamlin's progress at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
After Hamlin was released from time out, he posted a fast lap of 191.469mph.
“I hadn't been really that encouraged going into this week about this racetrack,” said Hamlin, who starts second on Sunday. “We had tons of struggles here in the spring. Our whole organization did, us especially. But we have turned the corner so much since then. It seems like five years ago when we ran here last.
“Obviously the speeds are dramatically faster than what we were here in the spring, and it just ‑‑ it's encouraging that we were able to have a car that was very comfortable right off the get‑go, and I mean, that's half the battle at these types of racetracks is getting yourself comfortable in a car that's able to race. Now, we haven't been around anyone yet, so that's the only thing you worry about is what's it going to do in traffic, because obviously at these speeds, aero will be everything."
Kurt Busch continued his speedy ways with a lap of 190.375mph after the first eight minutes of the session, but Kyle Larson matched his lap just before the 10-minute mark. Jimmie Johnson ran third (189.733mph) followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (188.983mph), Austin Dillon (188.897mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (188.824mph), Clint Bowyer (188.791mph), Jamie McMurray (188.420mph) and Michael McDowell (188.190mph).
Truex made his first run in final practice and jumped up to third (190.007mph). Ryan Blaney (189.520mph) was next to break into the top-five single lap speeds with 27 cars making runs.
NASCAR began releasing the drivers with 15-minute practice holds including Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson, Joey Logano, Corey LaJoie, Chase Elliott and Gray Gaulding.
Harvick vaulted to third in his first run with a lap of 190.349mph. Elliott was ninth-quick (188.884mph), Bayne 13th (188.739mph) and Logano 15th (188.219mph).
Twenty minutes into the 50-minute session, Keselowski moved up to seventh (189.407mph). Paul Menard returned to the track after a short maternity leave following the birth of his second child on Wednesday. Menard was 25th-quick following three runs (186.130mph).
Halfway through practice, Daniel Suarez jumped up to P1 with a lap of 190.685mph, but Blaney passed him with his run of 190.691mph. Larson dropped to third on the speed chart followed by Busch, Harvick, Truex, Johnson, Keselowski, Logano, Stenhouse, Dillon, Elliot, Earnhardt, Bowyer and Bayne.
NASCAR released Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth and Hamlin just before the 30-minute mark. Jones jumped to P1 (190.860mph), but Hamlin topped him (191.469mph) moments later. Busch was the 39th and final driver to make a lap. Both he and Hamlin lost 30 minute in both second and final practices. He was released 32-minutes in and posted a speed of 190.134mph (ninth) after his first run.
With 15 minutes remaining, Hamlin led the way followed by Jones, Blaney, Suarez, Truex, Larson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Kahne, Keselowski, Logano, Bowyer, Stenhouse, Austin Dillon, Elliott, Earnhardt, Bayne and Kenseth.
After completing her 37th lap, Danica Patrick told her crew, “We’re good. I felt we slowed down a little early, but we’re alright.”
Landon Cassill’s 40 laps were the most completed in final practice. He was 26th-quick with a lap of 188.107mph.
|5||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||35||28.329||0.126||0.010||190.617|
|11||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||31||28.406||0.203||0.001||190.101|
|19||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||34||28.574||0.371||0.019||188.983|
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About this article
|Location||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Teams||Joe Gibbs Racing|