Daniel Suarez tops opening Cup practice at Pocono

Daniel Suarez, who set his career-best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finish last season at Pocono Raceway, was fastest in Friday’s first practice.

Daniel Suarez tops opening Cup practice at Pocono

Suarez was among a handful of drivers who bolted to the top of the leaderboard very late in the 50-minute session.

His average lap speed of 171.217 mph just topped Ryan Blaney (171.090 mph) and Alex Bowman (170.338 mph). Kyle Busch was fourth and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.

Suarez finished a career-best second in last year’s second Pocono race, leading 29 laps in the event.

“It was pretty good. I’m pretty happy with the No. 41 Ford Mustang,” Suarez said after practice. “The guys have been doing a very good job. We were really quick.

“When you unload from the trailer quickest it’s always a little easier to go through practice. I think we need to be a little bit better in the longer runs but I felt like we will all work in the second practice to get better on the long runs.

“The most laps we ran were five or six laps. I guess second practice will be more racing-related. So, we’ll see what we have.”

Many teams seem to wait until late in the session to make mock qualifying runs. Qualifying this weekend at Pocono is Saturday morning before the Xfinity Series race.

Rounding out the top-10 in practice were Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and last weekend’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr.

Rookie Matt Tifft sat out the final 15 minutes of practice after his car twice failed pre-race inspection last weekend at Charlotte.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 18 52.565     171.217
2 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 19 52.604 0.039 0.039 171.090
3 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 24 52.836 0.271 0.232 170.338
4 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 22 52.851 0.286 0.015 170.290
5 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 21 52.871 0.306 0.020 170.226
6 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 11 52.932 0.367 0.061 170.029
7 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 23 52.933 0.368 0.001 170.026
8 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 15 52.946 0.381 0.013 169.985
9 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 24 52.956 0.391 0.010 169.952
10 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 19 52.964 0.399 0.008 169.927
11 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 25 53.030 0.465 0.066 169.715
12 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 17 53.033 0.468 0.003 169.706
13 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 22 53.043 0.478 0.010 169.674
14 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 21 53.044 0.479 0.001 169.670
15 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 29 53.050 0.485 0.006 169.651
16 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 24 53.078 0.513 0.028 169.562
17 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 20 53.233 0.668 0.155 169.068
18 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 16 53.288 0.723 0.055 168.894
19 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 25 53.297 0.732 0.009 168.865
20 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 22 53.305 0.740 0.008 168.840
21 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 20 53.370 0.805 0.065 168.634
22 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 19 53.421 0.856 0.051 168.473
23 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 25 53.530 0.965 0.109 168.130
24 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 16 53.572 1.007 0.042 167.998
25 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 25 53.703 1.138 0.131 167.588
26 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 19 53.723 1.158 0.020 167.526
27 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 21 53.808 1.243 0.085 167.261
28 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 20 53.846 1.281 0.038 167.143
29 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 21 54.025 1.460 0.179 166.590
30 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 13 54.312 1.747 0.287 165.709
31 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 9 54.484 1.919 0.172 165.186
32 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 5 55.090 2.525 0.606 163.369
33 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 22 55.181 2.616 0.091 163.100
34 51 United States Bayley Currey  Ford 16 55.232 2.667 0.051 162.949
35 27 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 3 56.016 3.451 0.784 160.668
36 52 United States J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 9 56.763 4.198 0.747 158.554
37 77 United States Quin Houff  Chevrolet 17 56.941 4.376 0.178 158.058
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Three-time Pocono winner Kurt Busch fastest in final practice

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Series NASCAR Cup
Event Pocono
Author Jim Utter
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