NASCAR’s initial visit to a Midwestern track this season kicked off Friday morning, with the first of two rounds of practice for Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
And at the end of the 55-minute session, Martin Truex Jr. was on top of the speed charts, turning a best lap of 185.065 miles per hour in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.
Truex has led a whopping 518 laps here, but has never managed to win here, encountering bad luck on several occasions when he appeared headed to victory.
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“It’s been a great track for us, even on years — it seems like years where we weren’t performing well we could come here, and for whatever reason run good,” said Truex of the 1.5-mile Kansas track.
Late in the session, Truex’s teammate, rookie Erik Jones spun the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at the exit of Turn 4. Jones did a great job keeping his car off the wall, but when it slid through the infield, the splitter caught a lot of grass. Fortunately for Jones, the damage was minimal.
Jones ended up third-fastest in the session behind Truex and the Wood Brothers Racing Ford of Ryan Blaney. Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.
Earlier, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both had wild moments where they got up high on the track and nearly caught the wall, but both drivers kept it off the wall.
Earnhardt ended up sixth in the practice, five spots ahead of Johnson.
“Very loose in, but we moved on,” said Johnson of his moment. “… I crossed the line and got away with it.”
And in the closing moments of practice, Michael McDowell lost an engine in his Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet, sending huge plumes of smoke out of the back of the car.
The final Happy Hour round of practice takes place at 1:30 p.m. ET, with qualifying tonight at 6:45 p.m. All television coverage will be on FS1, including the race on Saturday night, when coverage will begin at 7 p.m. ET.
For complete results from Friday’s opening practice, see below.