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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Martin Truex Jr. Paces Final Practice at New Hampshire

In a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice dominated by playoff drivers, Martin Truex Jr. led the charge – again.

Truex’s speed of 131.647 mph topped the charts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday. That’s after the No. 78 team was penalized 30 minutes for failing technical inspection last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Truex turned 27 laps in the final practice, passing defending winner Kevin Harvick for the top spot. The No. 78 car finished the 50-minute session, .003 seconds ahead of the No. 4 Ford (131.633 mph).

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch was third on the board with rookie teammate Daniel Suarez close behind in fourth (131.506 mph). Kyle Larson, who led the way in the opening two practices of the weekend finished the final practice in fifth (131.497 mph).

Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer made up the rest of the top 10.

Playoff drivers filled up the next six positions, and the only championship eligible drivers outside the top 16 were Austin Dillon (18th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (22nd) and Ryan Newman (25th). The No. 31 car made contact with the frontstretch wall midway through the practice.

The only incident came when Ty Dillon got into the wall fairly hard. The No. 13 team has elected to go to a backup car and will start from the rear.

Joey Logano was the lone driver that failed to make a lap as the No. 22 was penalized for the entire session for failing pre-qualifying technical inspection four times on Friday.

Larson ran 70 laps, 11 more than the second highest amount (Stenhouse). Blaney was quickest among drivers to make a run of 10 consecutive laps at 130.937 mph, just ahead of Harvick and Truex.

The green flag is scheduled to fly shortly after 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. Hamlin won at the Magic Mile in July.