Four-time Martinsville Speedway winner Denny Hamlin paced Saturday’s opening 55-minute NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session. The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had a fast lap of 19.499 seconds at 97.113 mph and ran a total of 53 laps around the .526-mile Martinsville layout.
The session was one of the coldest of the season, making for tricky conditions on the track as teams struggled to get heat in the tires and find grip.
Talking with FOXSports.com, Hamlin said teams have to take what they learned "at face value" due to the cold conditions.
"It at least showed we had some speed that we didn’t have yesterday," he said. "I think the warmer the temperatures get, it tends to be a little better for us."
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne were second, third and fourth, respectively. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Johnson’s session was not without a scare, however.
The eight-time Martinsville winner slowed about halfway through the session with a potential engine issue. Despite thinking the No. 48 car dropped a cylinder, the team determined it was an electrical issue and sent Johnson back out on track.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne ran the most laps, 66, but was only 39th fastest.
Gordon and Johnson had the best 10 consecutive-lap average, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick.