Denny Hamlin rockets to top of first Cup practice at Martinsville
Five-time Martinsville (Va.) Speedway winner Denny Hamlin rocketed to the top of the speed chart just before the conclusion of Saturday’s first practice session.
Kyle Larson was leading the 55-minute session just before Hamlin completed his mock qualifying run and jumped to the top with an average lap speed of 95.415 mph just as time expired.
Hamlin is one of eight drivers remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and his successful track record at Martinsville gives him hope of a win Sunday that will advance him into the Championship 4 at Homestead.
“This is obviously statistically our best shot even though I feel like we can win each and every week. I feel pretty good about it,” Hamlin said Saturday morning before practice. “A lot of good memories here – 2009 maybe when we came from ninth with three laps to go to win the race was probably my favorite memory at this race track, but it’s been a good one.
“Something about it that fits my driving style well. We have a tire that lays a lot of rubber down now which is really good. Looking at Truck practice and Cup race from the spring, the groove has widened out quite a bit so we’re happy about that.”
Larson ended up second-fastest (95.299 mph), while Ryan Newman was third, Ryan Blaney was fourth and Kyle Busch completed the top-five.
Playoff drivers Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick were sixth, 17th, 21, 22 and 23rd-fastest, respectively.
There were no on-track incidents in the first practice but drivers Harvick and Daniel Suarez nearly avoided a collision in the garage area while one was returning from the track and the other was heading out.
|13||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||54||20.085||0.239||0.031||94.279|
|19||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||47||20.126||0.280||0.003||94.087|
|21||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||43||20.136||0.290||0.007||94.041|
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About this article
|Article type||Practice report|