Denny Hamlin was the fastest in Friday’s lone Sprint Cup Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway after turning a lap at 14.913 seconds (128.666 mph). Hamlin’s fast lap came in the final few minutes as teams moved to qualifying trim, which is great news for the man who sat on the pole in last fall’s Bristol race.
Martin Truex, Jr., a Toyota stable mate with Hamlin, was second in the session, just three one-hundredths of a second slower than Hamlin. Truex was first in the session for most of the final twenty minutes before Hamlin’s fast lap.
Brad Keselowski was the only Ford amongst the top 5 at 14.947 seconds (128.374 mph). Keselowski comes into this weekend with the hope of winning his first Sprint Cup race at Bristol since he swept both races in 2012 on his way to the Sprint Cup Championship.
Kevin Harvick was sixth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was seventh. Kyle Busch, seen by many as the overwhelming favorite for Sunday’s race, was eighth while AJ Allmendinger continued proving his team’s strong short track program at ninth. Carl Edwards rounded out the top 10.
There was a small mechanical problem for Michael Annett that caused a small fire. Annett made it out unharmed after safety crews extinguished the flames and the team does not plan on pulling out a back-up car.
Only three drivers ran ten consecutive laps, somewhat odd considering how short Bristol is (ten laps is at worse two-and-a-half minutes out on the track). Casey Mears was the fastest of the three at 121.472 mph. Rookies Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher were second and third respectively.