NASCAR’s return to the intermediate ovals saw the Ford Mustangs shoot back to the top of the charts, with Aric Almirola topping the first practice for Saturday’s Digital Ally 400. Almirola was joined by hometown favorite Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski in the top five on the speed chart.
From the front to the back of the Cup garage, the word of the day in practice was…loose. Nearly every one of the 40 cars that took to the track for practice Friday morning reported that they were fighting a loose condition. Red-hot Alex Bowman reported early in practice that he was too free to commit to running wide open, a concern shared by teammate William Byron during the session as well.
Despite those handling concerns, both Hendrick Motorsports and the Chevrolet team continued to show improvement in their Camaros, with Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Bowman all finishing in the top 10 on the practice charts. Further down the Chevrolet pecking order, Landon Cassill expressed a lack of confidence in his race car towards the end of practice that his car was free and “not to the point where I feel comfortable moving [lanes] wide-open.”
Bowyer was blunter in his assessment:
The first practice ran without incident. All 40 cars entered for Saturday’s race made laps during the session.