by M Roberts
Kurt Busch led the first practice on for Friday’s only session prior to qualifying for Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire. Busch, last years New Hampshire winner in a rain shortened race, came in with the fastest a lap of 130.667 mph at the very end of the practice session.
Most of the teams came in with a race setup to start the afternoon and then in the final thirty minutes rolled out with their qualifying trim. Prior to the qualifying setup, Busch was fast as well along with Penske racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr.
Hornish finished with the 13th fastest lap overall, but was very fast in race trim which goes along with his success at the similar tracks of Phoenix and Richmond where Hornish is the only driver other than Mark Martin and Tony Stewart to finish in the top 10 in each of those races this year.
Kyle Busch came out fired up and laid down an early fast lap in race trim and continued so throughout the practice. The Richmond winner looks to be equally ready for this week as he was for that race.
Jimmie Johnson has always been good on these type of tracks, but struggled in practice until he put on qualifying trim. Johnson had the fourth fastest lap overall, but struggled earlier despite running the most laps in practice with 61 laps run.
Tony Stewart came out full throtle with the second fastest lap in practice early, but then he had to go to a backup car after crushing his rear into the wall. He’ll be using a backup car, but the backup car has race experience on these types of tracks finishing second at Phoenix. He’ll be fine on race day for sure!
Before qualifying setup came into play, the best looks to be Kyle Busch. Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart.
It appears that qualifying will be wiped by rain in New Hampshire, so Saturday’s practice session will give further clarification on who looks sharp for Sunday’s race. I’ll update then.
Friday Practice for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
1) #2-Busch 130.667
2) #00-Reutimann 130.011
3) #42-Montoya 129.967
4) #48-Johnson 129.927
5) #43-Sorenson 129.900
slowest: #27-Christopher 124.033 and #51-Bean 125.442
incidents: #14-Stewart smacked the turn 2 wall hard and did a lot of damage to the rear of the car and will go to a backup car, but since it is before qualifying, he will not have to go to the rear. #5-Martin got in the marbles and scraped the turn 3-4 wall and spun around, no serious damage.