Defending New Hampshire winner Denny Hamlin enters Sunday’s Foxwood Casino 301 as one of the pre-race favorites. In Saturday’s opening practice session, the No. 11 team proved why.
Hamlin ran a hot lap of 132.942 mph, close to a tenth-of-a-second ahead of Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), who was second on the scoring chart. In addition to winning last years race, Hamlin is a three-time winner at the Magic Mile.
After qualifying second on Friday, Martin Truex Jr. backed that performance up with the third quickest lap in the practice (132.462 mph). His other “Big Three” compadres rounded out the top five with Kyle Busch (132.406 mph) and Kevin Harvick (132.356 mph).
Kahne, who comes into the race with just one top-10 finish this season, may have been the surprise of the session.
“We made a bunch of gains from yesterday, but we still have a ways to go,” Kahne said of the balance of his car.
Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski were just outside the top 10 in the morning practice, while Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola were mired down in 19th and 20th, respectively. Matt Kenseth, who has placed inside the top five in the last five events at NHMS was 23rd on the chart.
Out of the 22 drivers who made a run of at least 10 laps, Blaney had the best average at 131.767 mph. Meanwhile, Harvick turned 29 laps, the most in the session.
Final practice for Sunday’s race is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET.