On Friday morning, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was fastest in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin’s lap of 14.848 seconds (129.230 mph) was only one-thousandth of a second faster than teammate Kyle Busch.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne was the fastest Chevrolet in third. Ryan Blaney was fourth quickest, followed by Clint Bowyer. Matt Kenseth was sixth, followed by Furniture Row Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10.
27 of the 41 drivers turned in 10-lap runs during the session. Of those drivers, Jamie McMurray, who was 13th quickest overall, turned the fastest average at approximately 15.156 seconds (126.604). Hamlin had the second-best average, followed by Daniel Suarez, Kyle Larson and Johnson.
Of the five drivers that must qualify on speed for the race, Rick Ware Racing’s BJ McLeod was the fastest of the bunch in 33rd, a little more than a half-second off of Hamlin’s time. JJ Yeley and Timmy Hill in 38th and 39th, respectively were the slowest of the open teams.
Johnson turned in the most laps in the session with 82. McLeod, who likely focused on qualifying in the session, turned in only three laps.
The 85-minute session had a red flag partway through due to rain. However, the track was quickly dried and the session resumed. As of this writing, it is dry at Bristol Motor Speedway, but there are still spotty showers not too far away from the track.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams have one more practice session that is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. The session will air live on NBCSN.