Championship favorite Martin Truex Jr. leads final practice
Martin Truex Jr. ended the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session how he spent much of the season – at the top.
Truex – one of the four drivers competing for the series championship in Sunday’s Ford 400 season finale – led the way in Saturday’s final practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
His average single lap speed of 171.195 mph was posted early in the session and easily topped second place Clint Bowyer (169.790 mph).
Truex, who will start second in Sunday’s race, said he was been anxiously awaiting the chance to add his first series championship to his racing career resume.
“I’ve been waiting for Homestead since this weekend in 2015,” Truex said. “Honestly, since that race was over, it was like, ‘alright.’ From there, we’ve been working since to get back here and have another shot at it.”
The other three title contenders – Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick – ended up sixth, 11th and 18th-fastest, respectively, in the final session.
Harvick and Keselowski both cut short their practice sessions after feeling comfortable with how their cars were performing.
Harvick, who was particularly pleased with the long-run speed of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing, said having a shot at a second series title was somewhat of a surprise.
“I would tell you three months ago that there was no way we would be in this position,” Harvick said. “It’s a huge tribute to Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford to get the cars to the level where we felt we could compete for races and for the championship.
“Then we go to Texas and beat (Truex), win the race and here we are.”
Pole-winner Denny Hamlin was third-fastest, rookie Erik Jones was fourth and Ryan Blaney completed the top-five.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will compete in his final race on Sunday, was seventh-fastest.
The teams of Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto were forced to miss the first 15 minutes of final practice after each failed qualifying inspection twice this weekend. Harvick, Chase Elliott, David Starr and Cole Whitt each missed the first 15 minutes of the session due to failing pre-race inspection twice at Phoenix last weekend.
The teams of David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Michael McDowell were each forced to miss the first 30 minutes of final practice after they all failed qualifying inspection three times this weekend.
|1||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||41||31.543||171.195|
|7||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||38||31.884||0.341||0.024||169.364|
|17||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||51||32.199||0.656||0.033||167.707|
|39||51||Ray Black Jr.||Chevrolet||4||35.410||3.867||0.130||152.499|
NASCAR allows Cup teams an extra set of tires for Homestead finale
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s NASCAR Cup career in pictures
About this article
|Drivers||Martin Truex Jr.|
|Teams||Furniture Row Racing|
|Article type||Practice report|