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 into 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 10.
Bill Elliott, debuting the new Team Red Bull, posted the 31st-fastest time. Terry Labonte makes his final appearance at Lowe’s Motor Speedway this weekend and started the weekend off by posting the 41st-fastest time.