Carl Edwards has been among the most vocal in the NASCAR garage about encouraging downforce reductions, and after Thursday’s practice at Kentucky Speedway, he may have good reason for it, too.
Edwards led the way in a Toyota-dominated opening Sprint Cup Series practice for Saturday’s Quaker State 400, with a quick time of 28.962 seconds on one of his session-high 51 laps turned.
Edwards was just one in a chain of Toyota drivers atop the boards. Defending race winner Kyle Busch (29.004) followed in second, with Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex, Jr. (29.155) and Denny Hamlin (29.176) rounding out a Toyota top four.
Jimmie Johnson (30.388) rounded out the top five, with Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott and Greg Biffle completing the top 10.
The popular words for the session proved to be “loose” and “scuff”. Running on the newly repaved 1.5-mile oval with the lower downforce package previously ran at Michigan International Speedway, teams struggled with the handling of their machines.
Josh Wise described his car as a “10 or 11” on a scale of 10 looseness during the session, with Brad Keselowski chiming in that his No. 2 Ford “just won’t turn.”
Two drivers found issue during the practice. Kasey Kahne lost control of his No. 5 Chevrolet coming out of turn two early in the session and got into the outside wall. Later, Wise was driving down the frontstretch when his No. 30 Chevrolet blew up, forcing a lengthy red flag as track workers cleaned oil off of the racing surface.
Amid fears of extensive tire wear during a test session following the June race at Michigan, Goodyear elected to bring their hardest tire to Kentucky. To combat the harder tire and risk of blistering, Cup teams made multiple runs throughout the session to scuff sets of tires.
The Sprint Cup Series will return to action on Friday for second practice at 11 a.m. ET.
About the author
A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.