Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was fastest in opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice Friday afternoon (Aug. 10) at Michigan International Speedway. Hamlin turned in a lap at an average of 202.230 mph to lead the pack.
Hamlin’s lap was six-hundredths of a second faster than Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch. Daniel Suárez was third fastest, f0llowed by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. Kyle Busch was fifth fastest, giving JGR three entries in the top five.
Joey Logano was sixth fastest, followed by Clint Bowyer. Defending race winner Kyle Larson was the best of the Chevrolet drivers in eighth. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman was ninth, while Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard was 10th. Other notables include Martin Truex Jr. (11th), Kevin Harvick (12th), Chase Elliott (14th), Brad Keselowski in (15th) and Jimmie Johnson (27th).
The top 15 drivers were separated by just over three-tenths of a second.
Since there are two practice sessions scheduled for Saturday, teams spent the session focused in on qualifying. No one ran 10 consecutive laps on-track during the session. In fact, only four drivers completed 10 or more laps during the session.
Conditions at Michigan International Speedway were cloudy during the session. That is not likely to be the case when qualifying comes around. The clouds are forecast to break up, meaning that qualifying will be under sunny skies. Given the margins on the speed chart, getting into the final round of qualifying will be no easy feat. The session is scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m. ET and will air live on NBCSN.