Saturday’s happy hour Cup practice at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway ended like Friday’s first practice did, with Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric 1-2 on the speed charts. For the rest of the top 10, the biggest storyline was the improvement seen in the Ford camp, with five Mustangs posting top 10 speeds (only two Fords cracked the top 10 Friday). After a few early runs, definitive drafting packs could be seen all over the track during this session.
What the speed means for the RCR teammates remains to be seen. Dillon and Hemric also posted the fastest five and 10 lap averages early in this practice session. However, in speaking to Frontstretch last night, Paul Menard felt that the RCR cars owed much of their speed to a “trimmed out” setup.
“They can make those fast laps by themselves” said Menard last night when speaking of their setups. It is worth noting that Dillon cited the same “trimmed out” setup as the reason for his struggles throughout last Sunday’s Atlanta race, chiding his team on the radio for their bodywork choices.
As for Menard, struggles was the word to describe his practice session, as the No. 21 Ford ended up 19th on the speed charts. Said the team as they attempted to prepare for a final drafting run to close out happy hour, “we’re…behind because we’re so screwed up.”
The hometown Busch brothers each made waves during this final practice. Kurt Busch demonstrated a marked improvement on the pylon, posting the seventh fastest time after a disappointing qualifying session last night that saw Busch tell the media throng “24 other guys that did [it] better than we did” before storming off to the garage. Kurt was also one of only four drivers to take more than 50 laps of practice during the session.
As for Rowdy, he earned his nickname as much as one could in a practice session, throwing two moves in the later half of practice that caught the cameras’ attention. One saw Busch, coming up to speed, pull up in front of his teammate Denny Hamlin on the frontstretch to no avail, while a later move near the end of practice saw the No. 18 pull an interstate highway move, braking to squeeze between two cars in a move that forced Dillon into evasive action in turn 2. Kyle finished in the top 10 in both practice speed and 10 lap average.
All 38 cars took time in the final practice session.