FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Saturday’s final practice for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
And that is not good news for the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field.
Johnson, who has won a total of six times at the 1.5-mile track, had said on Friday that his past success at TMS meant nothing because of the surface recently being repaved and Turns 1 and 2 reconfigured. Despite winning four of the last seven races at the track, and five of the last nine, Johnson insisted then that it was “a clean slate” and no one could claim to be the favorite for Sunday’s race (live on FOX, with pre-race coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET).
It didn’t look that way in Saturday’s Happy Hour, as Johnson turned the fastest lap of 194.812 miles per hour.
Chase Elliott (194.252 mph), Kyle Larson (193.618 mph), Aric Almirola (193.555 mph) and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five on the speed chart.
The practice did not go as well for Trevor Bayne, who went out and posted a fast lap of 192.781 miles per hour that took him to the top of the board early in practice.
He didn’t have much time to celebrate it, however – as he wrecked his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford shortly thereafter, forcing him to a backup car for Sunday’s race.
“I’m incredibly sorry for my team. … I basically just wrecked the best race car I’ve ever had,” Bayne said. “I’m really mad at myself.” We have seen a lot of really good guys wreck this weekend so I can’t really beat myself up that much.I was just trying to get it all. It was really just a deal of getting too high. I kept moving my arc out and touched the gray. I didn’t overdrive the corner, just touched the gray and there was no going back. I tried to save it all the way through, gassed up, saw the wall coming and there was nothing I could do at that point. I hate it. I hate it for my guys. I just hope we can recover here and get the backup car as good as the primary because that thing was fast. I have only had to use a backup car one time in three years but my guys will get it going and hopefully we can get it as fast as the primary was.”
Kasey Kahne, Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, also sustained heavy damage to his No. 5 Chevrolet when he hit the outside wall late in practice, with only about three minutes left in the session.
Bayne could at least take some solace in the fact that he was not alone in having problems keeping the car straight on the repaved, reconfigured track.
“We have seen a lot of really good guys wreck this weekend, so I can’t really beat myself up that much,” Bayne said. “I was just trying to get it all. ”