Once again, it looks like Joe Gibbs Racing and the Toyotas are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
There were two daytime practice sessions at Kansas Speedway on Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, even though the race will commence on Saturday evening. While Toyota was not the fastest overall in both practice sessions, they had at least three cars in the top five during each practice run.
Fastest overall in the first practice session was Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch with a time of 29.049 seconds at 185.893 mph. Martin Truex Jr. was the fastest Toyota in second, followed by JGR driver Carl Edwards. Austin Dillon (Chevrolet) was fourth followed by Trevor Bayne (Ford) in fifth.
The second practice session of the day saw faster speeds and yet again more speed by Truex and the JGR fleet. Truex led the session at a time of 28.770 seconds at 187.696 mph. JGR drivers Kenseth and Hamlin were second and third, respectively. Jimmie Johnson – who encountered engine issues during the session – was fourth quickest followed by Kyle Busch in fifth.
During the session, smoke began flowing from under the hood of Johnson’s No. 48 car at the end of a qualifying run. Johnson was able to shut down the engine before any damage occurred, but it took some time away from their practice session while they looked to diagnose the issue in the garage area.
Johnson was eventually able to head back out onto the track without needing an engine change.
“It appears the No. 48 got into a similar condition that the No. 5 (Kasey Kahne) got into at Phoenix; and when it did that, it pumped some oil up into the intake manifold and that’s where the smoke came from,” said Doug Duchardt, General Manager for Hendrick Motorsports. “Based on the experience we had with Kasey’s engine in Phoenix, we felt comfortable checking the engine over, running it, getting the oil out of the top of the engine, and sending him back out. Jimmie went back out during practice. We will continue to monitor, and we have no plans on changing the engine at this time.”
Qualifying will be held later this afternoon at 6:45PM ET.
The race will begin at 7:30PM ET on Saturday night.