The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 battle of the weekend goes to … Martin Truex Jr.
Truex led practice Friday (Nov. 16) for this Sunday’s 400-mile race that will decide the 2018 MENCS playoffs. Truex, despite just five laps, inched ahead of Kyle Busch by one-eighth of a second in a practice dominated by the sport’s Big Three on top of the board.
“Fortunately, today was good,” Truex said on NBCSN. “We’ll see what we can do tonight.”
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer was third quickest, fastest of the non-championship drivers. Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott was fourth, followed by Kevin Harvick. Harvick spent the majority of the session third behind Truex and Kyle Busch before dropping back.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano had trouble getting through inspection and missed nearly the entire first half of the session. Once he finally got out on track, more problems were discovered. While his immediate championship competitors were right at the front, Logano could do no better than 18th early on. On his third run of the session, Logano was able to move himself up to 16th on the charts, but he ended up more than three-tenths of a second off of Truex.
Other notables include Kyle Larson in 11th, two-time Homestead winner Denny Hamlin in 14th and Jimmie Johnson in 17th. Matt Kenseth, in what could be his final weekend in a Cup car, was 19th quickest.
Most teams spent all of practice in qualifying trim. Despite that, a few teams turned in a bunch of lap. Germain Racing’s Ty Dillon completed 26 laps, by far the most in the session. JTG-Daugherty Racing’s AJ Allmendinger completed 19.
There were no incidents during the 80-minute practice session. However, there was a brief red flag approximately one hour into the session due to some fluid being laid down.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will be back on-track later today for qualifying. The session is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. EDT and will air live on NBCSN.