Polesitter Brad Keselowski led Happy Hour at his hometown track on Saturday.
The Rochester Hill, Mich. native posted a single-lap speed of 200.865mph after 37 laps at Michigan International Speedway. Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. (200.172mph) were the only drivers to pass the 200-mile-per-hour mark in final practice.
Keselowski is still looking for his first career win on the two-mile track. In 16 starts, Keselowski has earned five top-five finishes — his best was second in 2012. His eight top 10s were earned over his last 12 starts.
“Any success you have at your home track is right there with having success in the biggest races of the year like Daytona for the 500 and the championship,” Keselowski said. “It’s a big deal for any driver, not just myself. Of course, this is my home track and to be able to have any kind of success here just really feels so darn good and I just hope we can keep it up this weekend.”
Joey Logano posted the third fastest speed followed by Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and Jamie McMurray. Larson’s 40 laps were the most completed in Happy Hour.
Kyle Busch was the first car out on the track and set the early pace with a lap of 199.529mph. In the first five minutes, Larson was second (199.022mph) followed by Hamlin (198.988mph), Blaney (109.988mph) Keselowski (198.835mph), Earnhardt Jr. (198.813mph), Suarez (198.703mph), Logano (198.621mph), Truex Jr. (198.599mph) and Kurt Busch (198.533mph).
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. grazed the wall in the opening moments of the session after two laps. He was 32nd-quick.
Earnhardt bounced up to second on his next run with a lap of 199.463mph. Just before the 10-minute mark, Logano took over the top sport on the speed chart with a lap of 199.734mph.
Kevin Harvick was released from his 15-minute practice hold for being late to pre-qualifying/pre-race inspection at Watkins Glen. Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson and Erik Jones served their timeouts for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice at Michigan.
Johnson didn’t complete his first lap before slamming into the wall in Turn 2. While the driver went to the Infield Care Center, the No. 48 crew pulled out the backup car with 30-minutes remaining in practice.
“As I turned into the corner, the back just turned around and off it went,” Johnson said.
“Just lost it on corner entry getting into Turn 1. The first lap at speed and the thing just rotated around. The effort level is high and you’ve got to run in there committed. I did so and unfortunately the rear grip just wasn’t there in the car and it came around.
“We’ll get this backup Chevy up and see what we can do with it. It’s going to be tough.”
When the track returned to green at the 23-minute mark, Logano was still atop the leader board. Kyle Busch was second followed by Earnhardt, Keselowski, Larson, Hamlin, Blaney, Kenseth, Suarez and Truex. Larson’s 20 laps completed were the most on the sheet.
Kasey Kahne also bounced off the wall on his return to the track and crinkled the right rear of the No. 5 Chevy coming out of Turn 1. Kahne was also forced to a backup car.
“We actually up to that point I had never had any tendencies of loose there at all,” Kahne said. “It was kind of interesting, made a change, came back out and I was coming into (Turn) 1 I basically lost my right-rear and was spinning as I was getting into the corner just sideways. Saved it, but then I was just going too fast and I got up in the gray and it went up and ended up running into the wall.
“So, it was kind of out of nowhere. was a bit surprised that happened. Our Liftmaster Chevrolet has been pretty close this morning and thought it was about the same the first run and then that happened on the second run.”
Thirty-minutes into practice, Keselowski shot to the top of the speed chart with a lap of 200.865mph. Truex was second (200.172mph) followed by Logano, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Larson, Hamlin, Suarez and Jamie McMurray.
Matt DiBenedetto was released from a 30-minute practice hold after failing pre-qualifying inspection four times at Michigan and being late to pre-qualifying inspection at Watkins Glen.
With 10 minutes remaining in the 50-minute practice, Keselowski continued to lead the session with the top 10 in tact. Kenseth was 11th followed by Jones, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Kahne, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Trevor Bayne.
|2||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||30||35.969||0.124||0.124||200.172|
|6||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||29||36.097||0.252||0.012||199.463|
|25||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||9||36.605||0.760||0.035||196.694|