Kyle Larson leads opening Southern 500 practice at Darlington

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Kyle Larson leads opening Southern 500 practice at Darlington
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Sep 1, 2017, 6:37 PM

Kyle Larson was fastest in first practice at Darlington Raceway on Friday.

Larson posted the top single-lap speed of 172.786mph while making a qualifying run on Lap 24. The driver of the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Chevy, who will make his fourth appearance in the Southern 500 on Sunday, scored a career-high third-place result at Darlington last season.

“Darlington is a really fun track to race, but a tough place to drive too,” Larson said. “We tested there last month and had a good session, so hopefully that translates into a good race for us this weekend.

“With the playoffs only two races away, Darlington is a great place to start getting focused in on what need to do over the next few weeks. We ran well at Darlington last season, so I think we have a good chance to contend this weekend in the Credit One Bank Chevy.”

Denny Hamlin was second followed by Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. Busch’s 61 laps were the most completed during the 85-minute session.

Ryan Blaney was the first car on the track and laid down a lap of 170.863mph after his first five-lap run. Within the first five minutes, Keselowski vaulted to the top of the speed chart with a lap of 172.594mph followed by Kevin Harvick (171.860mph), Kahne (171.848mph), Elliott, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Blaney and Aric Almirola.

Just after the six-minute mark, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. bounced up to second-quick with a lap of 171.886mph. Matt Kenseth made his initial run and posted the sixth-fastest laps — 171.594mph.

Jimmie Johnson was the 33rd car to make a lap after the first 10 minutes, he was 19th. Elliott returned to the track 12-minutes in and bumped Kenseth for sixth (171.734mph). One minute later, Denny Hamlin took the top spot with a speed of 172.644mph.

NASCAR released Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie and Michael McDowell from 15-minute holds for being late to qualifying inspection.

After the first 25 minutes, 39 cars had posted laps. Hamlin held onto the top spot followed by Keselowski, Stenhouse, Harvivck, Kahne, Elliott, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Newman and Jones.

“I’m pretty tight at the bottom of 3 and 4,” Hamlin said after 17 laps. “I have to use the whole racetrack.”

Just before the 45-minute mark, Kyle Larson jumped up to third (172.257mph) after 22 laps. Hamlin and Keselowski remained first and second. Stenhouse was fourth followed by Harvick, Kahne, Elliott, Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Newman.

Larson jumped to the top of the speed chart (172.786mph) on a flyer run just after the first hour of practice. Hamlin dropped to second followed by Keselowski, Stenhouse and Harvick.

Hamlin led the Best 10 Consecutive Lap category with a speed of 169.098mph. Larson was second (168.251mph) in best 10-lap runs followed by Kurt Busch (167.638mph), Kyle Busch (167.029mph), Clint Bowyer (166.509mph), Martin Truex Jr., Kenseth, Suarez, Blaney and Keselowski.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 28 28.415     173.570
2 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 40 28.484 0.069 0.069 173.150
3 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 54 28.494 0.079 0.010 173.089
4 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 35 28.608 0.193 0.114 172.399
5 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 41 28.609 0.194 0.001 172.393
6 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 45 28.616 0.201 0.007 172.351
7 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 37 28.635 0.220 0.019 172.237
8 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 43 28.660 0.245 0.025 172.087
9 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 61 28.675 0.260 0.015 171.997
10 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 29 28.697 0.282 0.022 171.865
11 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 22 28.709 0.294 0.012 171.793
12 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 50 28.738 0.323 0.029 171.619
13 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 43 28.744 0.329 0.006 171.584
14 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 54 28.771 0.356 0.027 171.423
15 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 31 28.796 0.381 0.025 171.274
16 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 19 28.814 0.399 0.018 171.167
17 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 27 28.828 0.413 0.014 171.084
18 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 42 28.863 0.448 0.035 170.876
19 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 49 28.865 0.450 0.002 170.864
20 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 19 28.905 0.490 0.040 170.628
21 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 28 28.952 0.537 0.047 170.351
22 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 38 28.957 0.542 0.005 170.322
23 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 10 29.004 0.589 0.047 170.046
24 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 58 29.021 0.606 0.017 169.946
25 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 20 29.132 0.717 0.111 169.298
26 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 26 29.145 0.730 0.013 169.223
27 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 46 29.188 0.773 0.043 168.974
28 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 22 29.196 0.781 0.008 168.927
29 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 43 29.266 0.851 0.070 168.523
30 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 37 29.307 0.892 0.041 168.287
31 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 44 29.391 0.976 0.084 167.806
32 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 21 29.633 1.218 0.242 166.436
33 15 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 13 29.673 1.258 0.040 166.212
34 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 28 29.793 1.378 0.120 165.542
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 23 29.860 1.445 0.067 165.171
36 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 11 30.052 1.637 0.192 164.116
37 83 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 26 30.185 1.770 0.133 163.392
38 66 united_states Carl Long  Chevrolet 5 30.312 1.897 0.127 162.708
39 55 united_states Derrike Cope  Toyota 9 30.411 1.996 0.099 162.178
40 51 united_states Cody Ware  Chevrolet 34 31.329 2.914 0.918 157.426
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Darlington
Location Darlington Raceway
Drivers Kyle Larson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Practice report