Almirola leads the way in Saturday's first Texas practice

Aric Almirola led another strong performance by Fords in Saturday’s first NASCAR Cup Series practice session at Texas Motor Speedway.

Almirola leads the way in Saturday's first Texas practice

Almirola topped the 55-minute session with an average lap speed of 193.854 mph, just edging Toyota driver Kyle Busch (193.805 mph).

Almirola’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Clint Bowyer, ended up third (193.771 mph) with Ford driver Brad Keselowski in fourth and Toyota driver Denny Hamlin completing the top-five.

“I think the most difficult thing at Texas now that it’s repaved and they changed the banking in Turns 1 and 2 is just the speed that you carry through the banked corner of Turns 3 and 4, and then you have to get slowed down for the flat Turns 1 and 2,” Almirola said.

“That has made it very challenging. Then, the exit of Turn 2 is very flat, so you’re carrying some speed there and the car just doesn’t have a lot of grip because there isn’t any banking.”

Almirola is currently ranked lowest in points among the eight remaining Cup playoff drivers but a win at Texas on Sunday or next week at Phoenix will lock him into the Championship 4 battle at Homestead, Fla.

In his last 10 starts at 1.5 mile tracks, Almirola has five top-10 finishes and has led 70 laps with an average starting position of 12.2 and an average finish of 14.4.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.

Among the drivers who completed at least 10 consecutive laps, Harvick had the fastest average lap speed at 192.022 mph.

Late in the session, J.J. Yeley scrubbed the wall going through Turns 3 and 4 but didn’t appear to do significant damage to his No. 23 Toyota.

Cla # Driver 4506 Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 39 27.856     193.854
2 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 30 27.863 0.007 0.007 193.805
3 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 42 27.868 0.012 0.005 193.771
4 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 17 27.899 0.043 0.031 193.555
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 33 27.921 0.065 0.022 193.403
6 41 United States Kurt Busch  Ford 47 27.934 0.078 0.013 193.313
7 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 43 27.936 0.080 0.002 193.299
8 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 34 27.938 0.082 0.002 193.285
9 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 46 27.956 0.100 0.018 193.161
10 78 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 27 27.957 0.101 0.001 193.154
11 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 27 27.966 0.110 0.009 193.092
12 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 32 27.970 0.114 0.004 193.064
13 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 24 27.972 0.116 0.002 193.050
14 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 34 27.974 0.118 0.002 193.036
15 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 26 27.989 0.133 0.015 192.933
16 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 22 28.039 0.183 0.050 192.589
17 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 39 28.039 0.183 0.000 192.589
18 19 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 45 28.080 0.224 0.041 192.308
19 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 43 28.092 0.236 0.012 192.226
20 47 United States A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 25 28.101 0.245 0.009 192.164
21 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 30 28.109 0.253 0.008 192.109
22 6 United States Trevor Bayne  Ford 16 28.111 0.255 0.002 192.096
23 1 United States Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 32 28.123 0.267 0.012 192.014
24 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 21 28.194 0.338 0.071 191.530
25 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 27 28.241 0.385 0.047 191.211
26 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 33 28.254 0.398 0.013 191.123
27 31 United States Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 29 28.255 0.399 0.001 191.117
28 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 23 28.431 0.575 0.176 189.934
29 95 United States Regan Smith  Chevrolet 31 28.457 0.601 0.026 189.760
30 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 35 28.493 0.637 0.036 189.520
31 32 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 21 28.529 0.673 0.036 189.281
32 96 United States Parker Kligerman  Toyota 28 28.687 0.831 0.158 188.239
33 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 19 28.777 0.921 0.090 187.650
34 7 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 15 28.971 1.115 0.194 186.393
35 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 29 29.082 1.226 0.111 185.682
36 23 United States J.J. Yeley  Toyota 6 29.271 1.415 0.189 184.483
37 72 United States Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 18 29.335 1.479 0.064 184.080
38 99 United States Kyle Weatherman  Chevrolet 4 29.398 1.542 0.063 183.686
39 97 United States David Starr  Toyota 17 29.968 2.112 0.570 180.192
40 51 United States Joey Gase  Ford 17 30.111 2.255 0.143 179.336

Take a virtual lap around Texas Motor Speedway with NASCAR Heat 3.

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Texas II
Drivers Aric Almirola
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Author Jim Utter
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