Rain came to Martinsville Speedway Friday morning, delaying on-track activity until noon, but eventually the skies cleared and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars took to the track for a single Friday practice session.
Paul Menard led the way early, but the session was just minutes old when Ty Dillon locked up his brakes and brought out the first of two caution flags. Dillon didn’t have any damage to the No. 13, and the track was quickly cleared.
Martin Truex Jr. took his turn at the top of the leaderboard as teams faced the decision of whether or not to practice in race or qualifying trim, or to try and make a switch during a session that lasted just under an hour. Many opted to concentrate on qualifying, as the series has another practice scheduled for Saturday morning.
The No. 19 team of Daniel Suarez was one of those that chose to practice in qualifying trim, but the team was forced to bring out the backup car after Suarez clipped the wall in Turn 3. The caution flew again for Suarez, but after the track went back to green, it was his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates lighting up the scoring pylon as Kyle Busch jumped to the front.
Busch’s top position was short-lived, though, as Denny Hamlin, who has five wins at Martinsville, laid down his best lap on the last circuit he ran in the session. Kyle Busch, point leader Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray filled out the top 5.
Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also posted top-10 times. Active Martinsville win leader Jimmie Johnson, who has nine career wins at the track, was 19th fastest.
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