Denny Hamlin tops final Cup practice at Texas

Missing half of Happy Hour didn’t hamper Denny Hamlin's progress at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Denny Hamlin tops final Cup practice at Texas
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

After Hamlin was released from time out, he posted a fast lap of 191.469mph.

“I hadn't been really that encouraged going into this week about this racetrack,” said Hamlin, who starts second on Sunday. “We had tons of struggles here in the spring. Our whole organization did, us especially. But we have turned the corner so much since then. It seems like five years ago when we ran here last. 

“Obviously the speeds are dramatically faster than what we were here in the spring, and it just ‑‑ it's encouraging that we were able to have a car that was very comfortable right off the get‑go, and I mean, that's half the battle at these types of racetracks is getting yourself comfortable in a car that's able to race. Now, we haven't been around anyone yet, so that's the only thing you worry about is what's it going to do in traffic, because obviously at these speeds, aero will be everything."

Kurt Busch continued his speedy ways with a lap of 190.375mph after the first eight minutes of the session, but Kyle Larson matched his lap just before the 10-minute mark. Jimmie Johnson ran third (189.733mph) followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (188.983mph), Austin Dillon (188.897mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (188.824mph), Clint Bowyer (188.791mph), Jamie McMurray (188.420mph) and Michael McDowell (188.190mph).

Truex made his first run in final practice and jumped up to third (190.007mph). Ryan Blaney (189.520mph) was next to break into the top-five single lap speeds with 27 cars making runs.

NASCAR began releasing the drivers with 15-minute practice holds including Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson, Joey Logano, Corey LaJoie, Chase Elliott and Gray Gaulding.

Harvick vaulted to third in his first run with a lap of 190.349mph. Elliott was ninth-quick (188.884mph), Bayne 13th (188.739mph) and Logano 15th (188.219mph). 

Twenty minutes into the 50-minute session, Keselowski moved up to seventh (189.407mph). Paul Menard returned to the track after a short maternity leave following the birth of his second child on Wednesday. Menard was 25th-quick following three runs (186.130mph).

Halfway through practice, Daniel Suarez jumped up to P1 with a lap of 190.685mph, but Blaney passed him with his run of 190.691mph. Larson dropped to third on the speed chart followed by Busch, Harvick, Truex, Johnson, Keselowski, Logano, Stenhouse, Dillon, Elliot, Earnhardt, Bowyer and Bayne.

NASCAR released Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth and Hamlin just before the 30-minute mark. Jones jumped to P1 (190.860mph), but Hamlin topped him (191.469mph) moments later. Busch was the 39th and final driver to make a lap. Both he and Hamlin lost 30 minute in both second and final practices. He was released 32-minutes in and posted a speed of 190.134mph (ninth) after his first run.

With 15 minutes remaining, Hamlin led the way followed by Jones, Blaney, Suarez, Truex, Larson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Kahne, Keselowski, Logano, Bowyer, Stenhouse, Austin Dillon, Elliott, Earnhardt, Bayne and Kenseth.

After completing her 37th lap, Danica Patrick told her crew, “We’re good. I felt we slowed down a little early, but we’re alright.” 

Landon Cassill’s 40 laps were the most completed in final practice. He was 26th-quick with a lap of 188.107mph.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 28 28.203     191.469
2 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 23 28.293 0.090 0.090 190.860
3 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 29 28.318 0.115 0.025 190.691
4 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 39 28.319 0.116 0.001 190.685
5 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 35 28.329 0.126 0.010 190.617
6 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 34 28.365 0.162 0.036 190.375
7 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 30 28.365 0.162 0.000 190.375
8 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 31 28.369 0.166 0.004 190.349
9 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 18 28.401 0.198 0.032 190.134
10 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 15 28.405 0.202 0.004 190.107
11 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 31 28.406 0.203 0.001 190.101
12 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 38 28.452 0.249 0.046 189.793
13 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 29 28.481 0.278 0.029 189.600
14 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 29 28.491 0.288 0.010 189.534
15 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 34 28.494 0.291 0.003 189.514
16 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 51 28.510 0.307 0.016 189.407
17 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 34 28.531 0.328 0.021 189.268
18 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 27 28.555 0.352 0.024 189.109
19 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 34 28.574 0.371 0.019 188.983
20 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 28 28.576 0.373 0.002 188.970
21 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 28 28.587 0.384 0.011 188.897
22 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 16 28.611 0.408 0.024 188.739
23 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 32 28.687 0.484 0.076 188.239
24 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 30 28.696 0.493 0.009 188.180
25 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 24 28.707 0.504 0.011 188.107
26 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 40 28.728 0.525 0.021 187.970
27 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 32 28.741 0.538 0.013 187.885
28 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 37 28.786 0.583 0.045 187.591
29 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 27 28.789 0.586 0.003 187.572
30 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 34 28.789 0.586 0.000 187.572
31 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 34 29.012 0.809 0.223 186.130
32 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 18 29.075 0.872 0.063 185.727
33 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 38 29.229 1.026 0.154 184.748
34 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 19 29.570 1.367 0.341 182.618
35 15 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 8 29.638 1.435 0.068 182.199
36 7 united_states Joey Gase  Chevrolet 12 29.645 1.442 0.007 182.156
37 83 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 25 29.654 1.451 0.009 182.100
38 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 19 29.966 1.763 0.312 180.204
39 66 united_states David Starr  Chevrolet 12 29.967 1.764 0.001 180.198
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