There were two practice sessions for Sprint Cup Series teams on Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kurt Busch was fastest in both of them. Busch was fastest in the Saturday morning session with a speed of 192.644 mph (28.031 seconds), then later in final practice with a speed of 188.653 (28.624 seconds).
Busch is looking for his first win on a track larger than .75 miles since 2011 at Sonoma Raceway, in addition to winning his second Coca-Cola 600, with his first victory in the 600-mile marathon coming in 2010.
Three-time 600 winner Kasey Kahne was second fastest in final practice with a time of 28.869 seconds and also had the fastest 10 consecutive lap average. Paul Menard had the third quickest time, followed by Greg Biffle in fourth and Matt Kenseth in fifth. Kenseth, the 2000 race winner, will starts tomorrow’s race from the pole.
Single-car teams showed their strength in final practice, with Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing) and Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) were sixth and seventh fastest in the session with times of 28.930 seconds and 28.933 seconds, respectively. Brad Keselowski‘s time of 29.938 seconds was eighth fastest. Carl Edwards and two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was 11th fastest, followed by Casey Mears, Joey Logano, last Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race winner Denny Hamlin and David Ragan. Mears, who ended the session in 12th, was the final driver to post a time below 29 seconds.
Kyle Larson had the third best 10-lap average, but his single fastest lap time of 29.112 seconds was only good enough for 16th. The No. 18 car posted a fast time of 29.128 seconds with driver Kyle Busch. Towards the end of the session, Erik Jones climbed aboard and practiced the No. 18 machine in case Busch needs relief during the race. The race will be Busch’s first Sprint Cup points event of the season, following an injury in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February.
Several drivers who ran well in the first practice session on Saturday had lackluster results in final practice. Two of these drivers being Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt Jr., who was in the top 15 in the morning practice, was 24th fastest in final practice. Gordon was eighth in the morning session but had the 30th-fastest lap in final practice.
With all practices completed, the next time Sprint Cup teams will be on the track will be for 600 miles in stock car racing’s longest night, the Coca-Cola 600. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on FOX.