The lead up to NASCAR’s most prestigious race concluded just before noon on Saturday, when the crossed black-and-red flags flew to wrap up the final 1 hour and 25 minute practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Just 35 of 43 cars set times, although speeds were largely irrelevant, as drivers mostly did final checks on their cars to make sure everything was as it should be.
Denny Hamlin topped the session with a lap of 202.106 miles per hour in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was followed by Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Ragan.
The big story, though, was Regan Smith, who is subbing for the suspended Kurt Busch. Smith ran 13 laps, timing in 30th on the speed chart. Smith, one of the better restrictor-plate racers on the circuit, said he was good to go.
"The fortunate thing is I’ve done enough Cup races where I’m familiar with most of the cars," said Smith, who drives full time for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "They have changed a little bit over the years … the drafting is similar from the XFINITY cars to the Sprint Cup cars, so that’s not a big adjustment."