Keselowski leads final practice; Johnson and Kahne find the wall

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. 

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 37 35.845     200.865
2 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 30 35.969 0.124 0.124 200.172
3 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 20 36.048 0.203 0.079 199.734
4 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 33 36.059 0.214 0.011 199.673
5 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 31 36.085 0.240 0.026 199.529
6 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 29 36.097 0.252 0.012 199.463
7 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 40 36.175 0.330 0.078 199.032
8 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 31 36.183 0.338 0.008 198.988
9 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 29 36.202 0.357 0.019 198.884
10 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 35 36.209 0.364 0.007 198.846
11 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 29 36.227 0.382 0.018 198.747
12 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 24 36.233 0.388 0.006 198.714
13 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 34 36.266 0.421 0.033 198.533
14 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 18 36.294 0.449 0.028 198.380
15 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 16 36.318 0.473 0.024 198.249
16 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 32 36.321 0.476 0.003 198.232
17 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 15 36.352 0.507 0.031 198.063
18 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 26 36.362 0.517 0.010 198.009
19 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 27 36.403 0.558 0.041 197.786
20 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 18 36.408 0.563 0.005 197.759
21 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 19 36.438 0.593 0.030 197.596
22 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 27 36.542 0.697 0.104 197.034
23 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 29 36.564 0.719 0.022 196.915
24 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 25 36.570 0.725 0.006 196.883
25 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 9 36.605 0.760 0.035 196.694
26 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 19 36.619 0.774 0.014 196.619
27 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 23 36.662 0.817 0.043 196.389
28 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 24 36.984 1.139 0.322 194.679
29 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 12 37.001 1.156 0.017 194.589
30 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 15 37.029 1.184 0.028 194.442
31 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 21 37.037 1.192 0.008 194.400
32 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 14 37.041 1.196 0.004 194.379
33 83 united_states Brett Moffitt  Toyota 25 37.296 1.451 0.255 193.050
34 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 13 37.327 1.482 0.031 192.890
35 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 19 37.523 1.678 0.196 191.882
36 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 8 38.237 2.392 0.714 188.299

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Event Michigan II
Track Michigan International Speedway
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Brad Keselowski
Teams Team Penske
Article type Practice report