On Friday, Team Penske’s Joey Logano struggled in opening practice. Changes following the session cured those issues. Now, he could very well be the man to beat on Sunday as he swept Saturday’s practice sessions for the Ford EcoBoost 400.
“I think we were pretty good,” Logano said after practice ended for the day. “I am not sure our last run was as good as I wanted it to be, but I don’t think it was that bad. We will have to look at some more data to understand it better. The car has speed on the short run and hangs decent on the long run. We just made a couple of 30-[lap runs]. We will just be doing some fine tuning from here. No wholesale changes, which is good.”
Practice No. 2
In the opening practice session, Logano was fastest with a lap at 169.609 mph, set right at the beginning of his session. The lap was eight-hundredths of a second faster than Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola. Pole sitter Denny Hamlin was third quickest in his Toyota, followed by Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman. Erik Jones was fifth fastest.
Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard was sixth fastest, followed by Chris Buescher and Daniel Suárez. Martin Truex Jr. was the second fastest Championship 4 contender in ninth, but he was more than half a second slower than Logano. Clint Bowyer was 10th.
Unlike Friday’s on-track sessions, the Championship 4 drivers were scattered throughout the field. While Logano topped the chart and Truex was ninth, both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were outside of the top 20. Busch was 23rd quickest, while Harvick was 28th. Harvick’s best time was more than a second slower than Logano.
26 of the 39 drivers entered completed a run of 10 laps or more during the session. Of those drivers, Logano was fastest with an average speed of 163.995 mph. Jones was second, followed by Hamlin, Bowyer and Truex. Busch had the ninth best average, while Harvick was 13th. The top 12 10-lap averages came right at the beginning of the session.
In the final practice session, Logano increased his speed. He once again topped the charts with a lap at 171.707 mph, the fastest lap of the day. Truex was right up there as well in second, but a full two-tenths of a second slower. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski was third on the charts, followed by Jones and Almirola.
For Busch and Harvick, they continued to struggle, but not quite as much on the speed charts.
Busch ended up 12th fastest, but had some trouble on track. The high line near the wall tends to be the preferred groove at Homestead-Miami Speedway, so he naturally tested it. Early in the session, Busch scratched the wall just a little bit. That wasn’t a problem. In the closing minutes, though, Busch hit it much harder. The No. 18 team will have to make some repairs to the M&M’s Toyota ahead of Sunday’s race.
For Harvick, he moved up from 28th to 14th. Despite that progress, he was still seven-tenths of a second off of Logano’s single-lap pace. Unlike Logano, wholesale adjustments will likely be in the cards for the No. 4 as the 2014 champion is quite displeased with his Jimmy John’s Ford.
Logano maintained his advantage in the 10-lap average as well, topping that chart with an average lap speed of 165.018 mph. That is a good couple of tenths at the beginning of a run over everyone else. Truex was second, followed by Busch (before his wall contact). Keselowski and Jones were fourth and fifth.
Coverage of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 will begin with NASCAR America Sunday at 1 p.m. on NBCSN. The show moves to NBC at 1:30, then is followed by Countdown to Green. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:03 p.m.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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