Like most weeks in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Joe Gibbs Racing led the way in opening practice Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. This time it was Daniel Suarez who paced the session at 126.046 mph, a day after leading 77 laps in the Camping World Truck Series race.
Earlier this season Suarez placed sixth in the finishing order at Bristol. The driver of the No. 19 has top-10 finishes in all three races in which he’s competed at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
In his return to the XFINITY Series, Regan Smith was second on the board (125.782 mph), .032 seconds off Suarez’s hot lap. The New York native spent the last three seasons in the XFINITY Series with a best finish of fifth at Bristol in 2014, but currently competes full-time for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.
Eight-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch was third on the leaderboard (125.716 mph). Austin Dillon was fourth (125.330 mph) and the third JGR driver, Erik Jones, rounded out the top 5 (125.036 mph).
Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, Ty Dillon, Blake Koch and JJ Yeley made up the top 10.
Championship leader Elliott Sadler was 15th on the speed chart, two-and-a-half tenths of a second off the fast lap. Gray Gaulding, making his XFINITY Series debut for Roush Fenway Racing, was 19th at 122.913 mph.
Busch had the best 10 consecutive laps around the half-mile bullring, circling the track at an average of 124.005 mph. Brennan Poole ran 97 laps, the most of all drivers in the 90-minute session.
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