Just after 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning Sprint Cup teams took to Dover International Speedway for 50 minutes of practice on the high-banked oval. The fastest laps of the session were determined in the first couple of minutes, when the track was its coolest and had the most shade.
Kyle Busch turned in a lap at 22.808 seconds (157.839 mph) right at the beginning of the session that held up as the fastest lap. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin was seven hundredths of a second slower in second. Another half a tenth back was Carl Edwards in third, finishing out a JGR sweep of the podium spots.
Richard Childress Racing‘s Ryan Newman was fourth quickest with a lap of 22.965 seconds (156.760 mph). Kurt Busch‘s lap of 22.990 seconds (156.590 mph) rounded out the top 5. Kyle Larson was sixth fastest, followed by Martin Truex, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were eighth and ninth while Kevin Harvick was tenth. Rookie Elliott also ran 55 laps in the session, the highest of any driver.
Other notables include ten-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson in 12th, Brad Keselowski in 13th and Matt Kenseth in 19th. Danica Patrick (25th) was the fastest of those who had to go to backup cars after yesterday’s big crash.
While Kurt Busch was only fifth fastest in single-lap pace, the driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet was the fastest driver over a ten-lap run, a metric that shows who is more suited to the long green-flag stretches that have typified Dover as of late.
Unlike seemingly every other practice session thus far this weekend, there were no crashes. However, a lot of drivers were incredibly loose and handling concerns were popping up on virtually every scanner. Earnhardt Jr. complained early in the session that his car was extremely loose and that he could barely touch the wheel. The team also fought porpoising issues through the various transitions on corner entry. Truex Jr. had quite a moment in turn 4 halfway through the session, nearly spinning out by himself.
The Sprint Cup teams have one more practice session today that is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. Their Happy Hour will air on FOX Sports 2.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.