Ryan Blaney led the way in Friday’s sole Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Blaney, who earned his career-best 10th-place finish at Bristol last August, posted an average lap speed of 129.877 mph to top the 55-minute session. Erik Jones posted the same speed ended up ranked second based on driver points.
Kurt Busch bolted into the top three at the end of the session (129.657 mph). Last weekend’s race winner, Kyle Busch, was fourth and Kyle Larson completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan and Martin Truex Jr.
About 46 minutes into the session, Darrell Wallace Jr. tagged the wall, followed by Kevin Harvick, who appeared to break something in the left-side of his car, shot up the track and into the frontstretch wall.
“Something obviously either came off or broke in the front suspension," Harvick said. "It looks more like the right-front, to tell you the truth. It definitely wasn’t a tire failure or anything like that, but just going in the corner as soon as I let off the gas it just hung a right, so it’s unfortunate for our Busch Beer/Jimmy John’s Ford, but we’ll get another one out and do it again.”
Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing team immediately brought out a backup car and he will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field. Wallace’s Richard Petty Motorsports team was making repairs to his No. 43 Chevrolet.
In 34 prior Cup races at Bristol, the 2014 Cup champion’s worst start was 40th in the spring event in 2007. Driving for Richard Childress Racing at the time, Harvick climbed 36 spots to finish fourth.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in the session, A.J. Allmendinger appeared to hit the wall and spun off Turn 1. Allmendinger’s elected not to move to a backup car.
Tony Gibson has temporarily returned to a crew chief role at Stewart-Haas Racing this weekend working with driver Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Ford. Gibson is filling on for John Klausmeier, who remained in Mooresville for the birth of his child.
Almirola was 12th-fastest in the session.
Four drivers – Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Larson and Reed Sorenson – had to sit out the final 15 minutes of the session. All four teams failed pre-race inspection at Texas last weekend.
Bristol has already applied the PJ1 traction compound to the track surface. It was laid down this weekend to the bottom four feet of the racing surface (it has gone as high as eight feet in the past).
|10||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||11||14.883||0.109||0.008||128.200|
|18||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||13||14.991||0.217||0.010||127.276|
|21||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||24||15.031||0.257||0.005||126.938|