Matt Kenseth leads clean opening practice at Dover
Three-time Dover International Speedway winner Matt Kenseth was fastest in first practice at the Monster Mile.
The lame duck driver, who is still looking for a landing pad for 2018, posted the top single-lap speed of 162.550mph. He completed just seven laps in the 85-minute session.
Kyle Larson, who finished second to Kenseth in 2016 when the No. 20 team posted its last win at the track, was second-fast on Friday (162.023mph) followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez.
There was no big rush to get the party started on the Monster Mile on Friday morning. David Ragan posted the first lap just before the four-minute mark. He set the early pace of 153.919mph (23.389-sec.). Kasey Kahne was second on the track and his third lap produced a time of 23.521-seconds (153.055mph). Just after seven minutes, Keselowski posted the fastest lap (154.044mph) in his initial run. Harvick topped him with a speed of 156.644mph. Ryan Blaney joined the session after eight minutes. He was third-quick (155.280mph).
After 10 minutes, 11 cars had set speeds. Trevor Bayne jumped up to second with his lap of 156.060mph. Keselowski, Blaney, Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Ragan, Paul Menard and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10.
Kurt Busch vaulted to P1 after 12-minutes with a lap of 156.331mph. Jamie McMurray’s first lap was 10th-quick (154.839mph). The No. 48 Chevy was the next car to the top of the chart with a lap 159.652mph, but the 11-time Dover winner improved to 160.635mph on Lap 2.
Fifteen minutes into first practice, Johnson held onto the top spot followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose best lap was 157.185mph after six circuits.
“I feel like we checked all the boxes,” “I like the balance a lot. We land a little tight but once it gets through landing it gets off real good — center off.”
Daniel Suarez first two-lap run was second-quick (159.737mph) before 18-minutes on the board. Three-time winner Ryan Newman (159.081mph) ran third followed by Truex (158.541mph), Harvick, Earnhardt, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch.
Just before 20-minutes in, Denny Hamlin climbed to P2 (159.986mph) on his first lap. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (159.808mph) and Suarez were bumped to third and fourth followed by Newman, Truex, Harvick, Earnhardt, Elliott and Kurt Busch. Thirty-five drivers had completed one lap with the playoff contenders running first (Johnson) through 24th (McMurray).
Kyle Busch was the next driver to break into the top-five speeds. Busch’s best time was 22.413-seconds (160.621mph) after two laps. Twenty-five minutes into the 85-minute session, 37 drivers completed at least one lap.
Johnson continued to lead the session 30-minutes into first practice followed Kyle Busch, Newman (160.007mph), Hamlin, Kenseth, Suarez, Truex, Harvick, Clint Bowyer (157.350mph) and Kyle Larson (157.295mph) after a 10-lap run. Earnhardt, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Stenhouse, Blaney, Michael McDowell, Kahne, Bayne, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 20.
Forty cars had completed a lap 35-minutes into practice. David Ragan jumped back into the top 10 with a lap of 158.200mph. Bayne’s 22 laps were the most completed. On a mock qualifying run, Earnhardt moved up to P3 with a lap of 160.531mph. Newman dropped to fourth followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Kenseth, Suarez, Truex and Ragan.
Larson bumped Johnson just after 50-minutes in with a lap of 162.023mph. Kyle Busch was third followed by Earnhardt, Kenseth, McMurray, Newman, Keselowski, Truex and Kurt Busch. Hamlin, Bowyer, Suarez, Kahne, Blaney, Ragan, Jones, Buescher and Allmendinger rounded out the top 20.
NASCAR waved the caution just before the one-hour mark for debris. Blaney had just reported a left-front flat tire prior to the yellow flag.
After the first hour, Larson remained fastest in single-lap speeds followed by Harvick (161.696mph) Kurt Busch (161.204mph), Johnson, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Kenseth, McMurray, Newman and Keselowski. Hamlin cracked the top-five speeds with a lap of 161.298mph two minutes later.
With 15-minutes remaining in the session, Suarez returned to the top-five with a speed of 161.240 for fourth. Kurt Busch dropped to fifth followed by Johnson. Johnson cruised up to second with a lap of 162.023mph. Harvick fell to third. Truex (161.464mph), Hamlin, Suarez, Kurt Busch, Earnhardt, Kyle Busch and Kenseth rounded out the top 10 with 10-minutes to go.
Kenseth topped Larson with a lap of 162.550mph in the final seven minutes. Kyle Busch climbed to fourth (161.980mph). Harvick, Elliott, Truex, Hamlin, Suarez and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10. On Kurt Busch’s final mock Q-run, he rolled back up to sixth (161.660mph).
|8||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||11||22.296||0.149||0.013||161.464|
|12||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||15||22.366||0.219||0.007||160.959|
|25||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||8||22.679||0.532||0.023||158.737|
NASCAR playoffs: Handicapping the bottom feeders at Dover
Patrick has no plans to return to IndyCar, focused on NASCAR options
About this article
|Location||Dover International Speedway|
|Teams||Joe Gibbs Racing|