Kyle Larson leads final Cup practice at Richmond

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Kyle Larson leads final Cup practice at Richmond
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Sep 8, 2017, 5:25 PM

Kyle Larson found his happy place in Happy Hour at Richmond Raceway on Friday.

In the final 10 minutes of the 85-minute session, the No. 42 Target Chevy climbed to the top of the speed chart with a lap of 120.235mph after 76 laps. 

"It's kind of hard to believe we're back at Richmond with the regular season set to wrap up,” said Larson who is third in the standings and finished second in this race last year. “Up to now it's been a pretty solid year for our team. We've accomplished some of our goals, but still have a few more to work towards over the coming weeks.

“Unfortunately, the regular season title is out of contention this weekend, but we'll work hard to have a strong run at Richmond with the Target Chevy and try to move back into second in the standings and get as many playoffs points as we can. Our cars have definitely been improving at Richmond, so looking forward to a good race."

Joey Logano was second in final practice followed by Daniel Suarez, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.

Keselowski’s 83 laps were the most completed in the session.

Martin Truex Jr. posted a single-lap speed of 118.224mph after 12 laps in the first five minutes of the session. Suarez was second (118.100mph) followed by Chase Elliott (117.971mph), Brad Keselowski (117.894mph), Kyle Busch (117.837mph), Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Twenty-six cars posted speeds.

The top 10 speeds didn’t change after the first 15 minutes. But Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon were released from their practice holds after failing pre-race inspection at Darlington. Harvick moved up to 15th quick (116.848mph). Dillon was 21st (116.505mpj) Jamie McMurray, who failed pre-qualifying inspection twice, arrive at the time out lane later. He joined practice about five minutes later and posted the 23rd fastest single lap — 116.274mph.

Thirty minutes into the session, Truex still led the top 10 drivers. Clint Bowyer, who was released from his practice hold jumped up to 11th on the speed chart with a lap of 117.218mph. The No. 14 team failed pre-qualifying inspection three times at Darlington. Matt Kenseth was also released for the same infraction. Kenseth ran 30th-quick with his first run of 116.149mph.

Chris Buescher was 12th fastest after the first half-hour followed by Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. Kenseth moved up to 15th-quick — 116.868mph after seven laps.

Kyle Larson bumped Stenhouse out of the top 10 with a speed of 117.254mph after 45 laps following the first 45 minutes.

After the first hour, Larson was the only change among the top-10 drivers. Keselowski’s 77 laps were the most completed. 

At the one hour, five minute mark, NASCAR released Erik Jones and Landon Cassill. Jones failed qualifying inspection three times at Darlington. Cassill failed pre-race inspection four times. Cassill was 17th-quick after three laps.

Seven minutes later, Bowyer vaulted up to second with a mock qualifying run of 118.146mph. At the 70-minute mark, Jones jumped up to 10th with a lap of 117.852mph but was knocked out of the top 10 when Kurt Busch topped the chart with a mock qualifying run of 119.147mph. His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick posted the fifth-fastest lap of 118.520mph.

With 10 minutes remaining, Kurt Busch held the top spot followed by Chase Elliott (119.016mph), McMurray (118.890mph), Kyle Busch (118.718mph), Stenhouse (118.671mph), Patrick, Cassill (118.416mph) and Blaney (118.333mph)

Larson cruised up to P1 with a speed of 120.235mph with eight minutes left in final practice. Logano ran second (120.208mph), Suarez third (119.925mph), Kenseth (119.564mph) and Keselowski fifth (119.195mph). Kurt Busch, Elliott, McMurray, Kyle Busch and Stenhouse rounded out the top 10. Johnson, Patrick, Bowyer, Cassill and Blaney completed the top 15.

Truex rolled up to fourth (119.697mph) with less than three minutes on the clock. Hamlin’s lap of 118.922mph held up for ninth with Trevor Bayne in 10th (118.906mph).

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 76 22.456     120.235
2 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 66 22.461 0.005 0.005 120.208
3 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 66 22.514 0.058 0.053 119.925
4 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 54 22.557 0.101 0.043 119.697
5 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 31 22.582 0.126 0.025 119.564
6 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 62 22.627 0.171 0.045 119.326
7 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 83 22.652 0.196 0.025 119.195
8 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 63 22.661 0.205 0.009 119.147
9 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 74 22.686 0.230 0.025 119.016
10 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 41 22.704 0.248 0.018 118.922
11 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 63 22.707 0.251 0.003 118.906
12 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 60 22.708 0.252 0.001 118.901
13 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 41 22.710 0.254 0.002 118.890
14 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 51 22.741 0.285 0.031 118.728
15 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 71 22.743 0.287 0.002 118.718
16 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 51 22.753 0.297 0.010 118.666
17 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 70 22.781 0.325 0.028 118.520
18 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 41 22.785 0.329 0.004 118.499
19 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 31 22.795 0.339 0.010 118.447
20 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 11 22.801 0.345 0.006 118.416
21 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 57 22.817 0.361 0.016 118.333
22 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 60 22.817 0.361 0.000 118.333
23 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 48 22.826 0.370 0.009 118.286
24 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 59 22.851 0.395 0.025 118.157
25 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 34 22.855 0.399 0.004 118.136
26 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 5 22.886 0.430 0.031 117.976
27 83 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 35 22.910 0.454 0.024 117.852
28 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 54 22.923 0.467 0.013 117.786
29 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 64 22.941 0.485 0.018 117.693
30 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 50 22.993 0.537 0.052 117.427
31 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 78 23.043 0.587 0.050 117.172
32 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 49 23.049 0.593 0.006 117.142
33 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 24 23.186 0.730 0.137 116.450
34 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 49 23.219 0.763 0.033 116.284
35 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 49 23.279 0.823 0.060 115.984
36 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 3 23.338 0.882 0.059 115.691
37 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 46 23.464 1.008 0.126 115.070
38 15 united_states Derrike Cope  Toyota 17 23.664 1.208 0.200 114.097
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