Friday afternoon saw the Xfinity teams take to the 4.048-mile Road America circuit for two 90-minute practice sessions in preparation for Saturday’s Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. The forecast for both Friday and Saturday calls for a 50 percent chance of rain, so everyone tried to put their best foot forward as quickly as possible.
In the first practice, Boris Said was fastest for most of the session. Then, the radar turned a little green towards the end of the session, sending teams scrambling. The last 15-20 minutes saw a number of teams send their drivers out on mock qualifying runs.
Rookie Ben Rhodes, back in the JR Motorsports No. 88 for the seventh time this season, was the fastest of the bunch with a lap of 2:14.311 (108.500 mph). That lap was nearly a half-second faster than teammate Chase Elliott, who was second fastest. Ryan Blaney was third fastest, followed by Justin Marks and Brian Scott. Points leader Chris Buescher was sixth, followed by Said, Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez. 36 drivers set timed laps in the session.
The first session had a number of incidents that brought out red flags. Both Dylan Lupton and Eric McClure stopped on course to bring out red flags. In Lupton’s case, his caution brought the session to an early end. Lupton also had an off-course excursion in turn 6. Even Rhodes was not immune to errors as he went straight at turn 5 after getting behind in his braking.
Kenny Habul spun out twice, once in turn 5 after wheel-hopping and again in turn 14. He did not hit anything. Derek White was not so lucky, spinning out in turn 14 on his first timed lap, sliding through the sand trap and hitting the tires. As a result, White did not put up a time in the session and had to be towed back to the garage. He was forced to go to a backup car.
Stanton Barrett failed to turn in a lap during the session, but not because he wasn’t trying. NBCSN reported that the liftgate on Barrett’s transporter stopped working, making it impossible for Barrett to get his No. 17 out of the truck.