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Practice report

William Byron tops wild and wet NASCAR Cup practice at COTA

Hendrick Motorsports shone in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series practice session in the rain at COTA.

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

Despite much of the 55-minute session at the Circuit of the Americas held in downpour conditions, HMS placed three cars in the top-five during a challenging practice at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

William Byron led the way, posting an average lap speed of 77.846 mph late in the session, just holding off Joey Logano (77.558 mph), who set his top speed just prior to the conclusion of the practice.

“I hope it rains tomorrow,” Byron said of Sunday’s race. “It was a blast.”

Byron’s HMS teammate, Kyle Larson, ended up third (77.466 mph), followed by Kyle Busch and HMS teammate Chase Elliott, who has won four of the Cup series’ past five road course events.

Rounding out the top-10 were Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell.

The session was marred by several incidents, but none requiring a full-course caution.

Among them: Logano briefly went off course in Turn 11 early in the session; Elliott spun out but was able to continue on; Daniel Suarez ran off course in Turn 12 and stopped in time to avoid hitting a sign and the wall; and Ty Dillon saw his windshield wiper break off late in the session.

 

In the end, 39 cars were able to get on track but several had limited practice time as pre-qualifying inspection was still going on while practice went green. A.J. Allmendinger was among those who had to sit out much of the session waiting for his car to complete inspection.

“It is what is right now. There’s nothing we can change,” he said. “I’'ll probably stay quiet on that.”

Both qualifying the Cup race are scheduled for Sunday at COTA. Qualifying begins at 11 p.m. ET and the race will follow at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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