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The first practice session for Nextel Cup Series teams has just ended and the three teams of Ray Evernham have planted themselves firmly at the top of the speed charts. Kasey Kahne was fastest in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge with a speed of 187.279 mph on a track where many expected he would do well and perhaps have a shot to pull back into Chase competition. Teammate Scott Riggs posted the second fastest speed at 187.266 mph. They were the only two drivers over 187 mph. Kurt Busch was the only driver to break the Evernham stranglehold on the top spots, slotting in to third while Elliott Sadler in the third Evernham Dodge was fourth fastest and Mark Martin rounded out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson posted the sixth fastest time on a track he has dominated in the last few seasons with Joe Nemechek, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Green, and David Gilliland following him to complete the top ten. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Tony Raines, Kyle Petty, Dale Earhnardt Jr., Reed Sorenson, Michael Waltrip, and Jeff Burton in 20th made up the second ten. Robby Gordon, Travis Kvapil, Todd Bodine, Ken Schrader, and Casey Mears logged the 21st through 25th fastest times. Filling out the remainder of the top 30 were David Stremme, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Mike Bliss, and Todd Kluever.
Bill Elliott, debuting the new Team Red Bull, posted the 31st fastest time followed by Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney, Dale Jarrett, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Kenny Wallace, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, and Sterling Marlin in 40th. Terry Labonte makes his final appearance at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend and started the weekend off by posting the 41st fastest time followed by Derrike Cope, Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte, Mike Skinner, Chad Chaffin, Kevin Lepage, Hermie Sadler, Carl Long, Morgan Shepherd, J.J. Yeley, and Kirk Shelmerdine to complete the lineup of 52 cars that will try to qualify for the Bank of America 500.
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IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.