Kyle Larson leads final Cup practice at Richmond
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).
|4||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||54||22.557||0.101||0.043||119.697|
|6||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||62||22.627||0.171||0.045||119.326|
|28||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||54||22.923||0.467||0.013||117.786|
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