Stewart-Haas Racing's Fords lead Saturday's first Cup practice
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates swept the top three positions in Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Clint Bowyer, who won this race one year ago, led the way in the 50-minute practice session with an average lap speed of 97.673 mph.
Not far behind were his SHR teammates Daniel Suarez (97.257 mph) and Aric Almirola (97.003 mph). Martin Truex Jr. was fourth and last weekend’s race winner, Kyle Busch, completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott.
SHR’s fourth driver, Kevin Harvick, ended up 11th-fastest.
“You know I make fun of these other drivers sometimes for having tears in Victory Lane, but I’ve got to admit that moment got to me,” said Bowyer about his celebration with his young son, Cash, after the win last year.
“Cash is young enough that he had never been to Victory Lane before, so it was his first chance to be there. That’s something I always wanted to make happen.”
Kyle Busch had the fastest average lap speed (96.642 mph) among those drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps. Almirola and Truex were second and third, respectively, in that category.
Within the first two minutes of practice, William Byron appeared to have an issue with the right-front tire and tagged wall coming off Turn 2. He immediately took his No. 24 Chevrolet to the garage for repairs.
Almost 20 minutes into the session, Corey LaJoie got into the wall in between Turns 1 and 2 and did extensive damage to the right-side of his No. 32 Ford. The will move to a backup car which means LaJoie will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
“That just sucks because we were making it really good,” LaJoie said. “I think we were 20th at the time, but I’ll tell you there is no coffee strong enough that will wake you up losing brakes into Turn 1 at Martinsville.”
Michael McDowell had to sit out the final 15 minutes of the practice session after his No. 34 failed pre-race inspection at Auto Club Speedway multiple times.
|4||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||45||19.534||0.147||0.013||96.939|
|19||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||44||19.738||0.351||0.005||95.937|
|29||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||48||19.879||0.492||0.010||95.256|
Full NASCAR 2019 Martinsville weekend schedule
Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports top final Cup practice