Larson leads opening NHMS practice; Johnson and Elliott crash

Larson leads opening NHMS practice; Johnson and Elliott crash
Sep 22, 2017, 5:07 PM

Kyle Larson led first practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday.

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Larson, who finished a career-high second-place in July at the Magic Mile, topped the speed chart with a lap f 135.714mph.

Kyle Busch was second quick followed by Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch.

Six drivers posted times in the Best 10 Consecutive Lap category. Chase Elliott was fastest (130.558mph) followed by Blaney (130.176mph), Jones (129.299mph), Landon Cassill (128.512mph), Michael McDowell (127.683mph) and Danica Patrick (127.504mph).

Chris Buescher's 39 laps were the most completed during the first session. His best lap 21st-fastest -- 133.235mph.

McDowell, who is being displaced from the No. 95 Chevy next season, was the first driver on the track for practice. He posted a speed of 128.104mph. The No. 37 Chevy of Chris Buescher (128.754mph) was second on the track followed by David Ragan (128.593mph).

After the first five minutes, Trevor Bayne (127.743mph) made his first run followed by Kasey Kahne (131.080mph), who shot up to the top of the board. Erik Jones moved from sixth to third-quick with a lap of 129.542mph then surpassed McDowell with his fourth lap of 129.803mph.

Just after the 10-minute mark, Kevin Harvick vaulted to second (130.416mph) but was topped by Chase Elliott (130.617) moments later. Harvick passed Elliott with his fourth lap (130.995mph), then captured P1 with a speed of 131.410mph.

“That’s going to be fine,” Harvick said after completing six laps.

Kurt Busch bumped Harvick with his sixth lap (131.420mph). Ryan Blaney (131.338mph), Elliott, Kahne, Bowyer (130.496mph), Logano (130.465mph), AJ Allmendinger (130.385mph), Paul Menard (130.144mph) and Jamie McMurray (129.944mph) completed the top 10 speeds in the first 15 minutes. Twenty-five drivers had posted at least one lap.

Before the first 20-minutes, Daniel Suarez jumped to the top of the speed chart with a lap of 131.765mph. Kyle Larson (131.665mph) and Matt Kenseth made initial runs with the No. 20 Toyota topping his JGR teammate with a speed of 132.646mph.

Just after 20-minutes in, Johnson ran his first lap and jumped to second-quick with a lap of 131.998mph. But before completed his next lap, Johnson lost the back end of the No. 48 Chevy coming into Turns 3 and 4 and hit the wall to bring out the caution. The Hendrick Motorsports team unloaded the back up car for the seven-time champion.

“I had a good first lap and entering Turn 3 for my second lap just got in there with a lot of speed anticipated it sticking, didn’t quite stick and then once I got out of the PJ1 there was just really no slowing down or directing it off the wall at that point,” Johnson said. “Came around and it got the fence. Definitely not the way we wanted to start. Frustrating, but we will take it and go figure it out.”

Practice resumed at the 24-minute mark with Kenseth leading the session followed by Johnson, Suarez, Larson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Blaney, Elliott, Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Twenty-five minutes into the session, Kyle Busch bumped Earnhardt for 10th with a lap of 131.053mph.

Moments later, Elliott lost control of his car coming into Turn 3 to bring out the next yellow. He was working his 17th lap and had a top speed of 131.320mph. NASCAR continued the session at the 29-minute mark. 

“I don’t know just got kind of loose into Turn 3 and got up the track and ran out of room,” Elliott said. “I hate it. That’s not what we needed we are behind this weekend now, so that is never good, but it’s Friday, so we’ve got another day and a half to get things turned around and try to get it fixed.”

Elliott is behind the 8 ball already this weekend with the loss of crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was suspended for illegal modifications to the No. 24 Chevy at Chicagoland. Veteran crew chief Kenny Francis has been assigned to the team this weekend.

“It’s been fine,” Elliott added. “I’ve worked with Kenny before, so nothing, no surprises he is a good guy and does a good job. I hate to put everybody in this situation this weekend. That is never good, but we will go to work.”

After the first 30 minutes, Larson bumped up to second (132.448mph) followed by Johnson, Blaney, Suarez, Ryan Newman (131.492mph), Earnhardt (131.478mph), Kurt Busch, Harvick and Elliott. Kahne moved back to fifth with a lap of 131.989mph followed by Bowyer (131.770mph), Suarez (131.765mph), Newman, Earnhardt and Kurt Busch.

Forty-minutes into the session, Truex topped the chart with a lap of 134.677mph on his mock qualifying run. It was his second trip and his fourth lap on the track. 

Over the next 10 minutes, Kyle Busch jumped up to second-quick (134.136mph) followed by Kenseth (133.999mph), Denny Hamlin (133.375mph), Newman, Brad Keselowski (132.641mph), Larson, Suarez, Johnson and Blaney. Larson vaulted to second with a mock-qualifying run of 134.311mph.

Kahne ran 11th followed by Harvick, Bowyer, Earnhardt, Ragan, Kurt Busch, Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Logano and Landon Cassill.

As more drivers attempted mock qualifying runs, McMurray climbed to fourth (134.056mph), then Earnhardt third (134.202mph). Blaney was the first driver to break the 135mph-mark (135.030mph), but seconds later, Kyle Busch bumped the No. 21 Ford with a lap of 135.342mph.

After the first hour, it was Kyle Busch, Blaney, Truex (134.677mph), Larson, Kenseth (134.236mph), Earnhardt, Jones, McMurray, Hamlin and Suarez. Newman, Keselowski, Buescher, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Kahne, Harvick, Bowyer, Ragan and Cassill rounded out the top 20.

With 15 minutes remaining in the 85-minute session, Larson led the session with a speed of 135.714mph. Kyle Busch (135.342mph) ran second followed by Blaney, Hamlin, Kahne, Truex, Jones, Kenseth, Earnhardt and Suarez.

Johnson returned to the track in the backup car with 13 minutes to go in first practice. He was 26th quick in his second lap with a speed of 131.998mph. He completed three laps with a top speed of 133.021mph — 18th-quick at the time.

“Corner entry it was on the splitter,” Johnson told crew chief Chad Knaus. “I felt like I was going to bust my ass again.”

Kahne (134.820mph), who comes to the track with new crew chief Darian Grubb this weekend, climbed up to fifth with 10 minutes remaining. He gained speed on his next run and moved up to third (135.198mph) behind Larson and Kyle Busch.

“Super comfortable in there,” Kahne said. “Just needs some fine-tuning.”

Blaney fell to fourth followed by Hamlin, Truex, Jones, Kenseth, Earnhardt and Suarez. Truex improved to fourth in the closing minutes (135.188mph). Kurt Busch posted the ninth-fastest lap (134.240mph) but was bumped by McMurray (134.340mph).

“Those changes helped it,” Busch said. “I just have to get off of the throttle.”

1 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 21 28.065     135.714
2 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 11 28.142 0.077 0.077 135.342
3 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 26 28.172 0.107 0.030 135.198
4 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 11 28.174 0.109 0.002 135.188
5 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 26 28.207 0.142 0.033 135.030
6 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 16 28.219 0.154 0.012 134.973
7 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 11 28.234 0.169 0.015 134.901
8 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 23 28.296 0.231 0.062 134.606
9 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 23 28.352 0.287 0.056 134.340
10 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 15 28.373 0.308 0.021 134.240
11 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 22 28.381 0.316 0.008 134.202
12 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 16 28.404 0.339 0.023 134.094
13 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 24 28.451 0.386 0.047 133.872
14 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 27 28.468 0.403 0.017 133.792
15 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 12 28.474 0.409 0.006 133.764
16 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 24 28.497 0.432 0.023 133.656
17 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 27 28.504 0.439 0.007 133.623
18 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 21 28.547 0.482 0.043 133.422
19 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 15 28.557 0.492 0.010 133.375
20 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 18 28.559 0.494 0.002 133.366
21 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 39 28.587 0.522 0.028 133.235
22 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 7 28.633 0.568 0.046 133.021
23 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 18 28.634 0.569 0.001 133.017
24 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 26 28.673 0.608 0.039 132.836
25 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 18 28.697 0.632 0.024 132.725
26 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 24 28.772 0.707 0.075 132.379
27 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 25 28.777 0.712 0.005 132.356
28 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 26 28.798 0.733 0.021 132.259
29 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 20 28.814 0.749 0.016 132.186
30 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 23 28.844 0.779 0.030 132.048
31 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 13 28.848 0.783 0.004 132.030
32 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 16 29.004 0.939 0.156 131.320
33 15 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 12 29.058 0.993 0.054 131.076
34 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 18 29.364 1.299 0.306 129.710
35 55 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 11 29.388 1.323 0.024 129.604
36 83 united_states Brett Moffitt  Toyota 15 29.671 1.606 0.283 128.368
37 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 11 29.813 1.748 0.142 127.756
38 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 24 29.995 1.930 0.182 126.981
39 51 united_states Cody Ware  Chevrolet 13 31.109 3.044 1.114 122.434
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