by M Roberts
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series first practice session Friday at Michigan International Speedway was primarily used for qualifying set-ups as the teams get prepared to qualify for Sunday’s CarFax 400.
Ryan Newman topped the first practice with a speed of 189.155 mph and he did so very early in practice. He ran only seven laps in practice which suggests they are pretty happy about what they have set up for Friday’s qualifying.
The majority of the top speeds mirrored the June Michigan race’s first practice. Most of the drivers who were primed and set for that race found themselves in the top-10 as well this week.
The overall speeds were slightly better this time around, but the names remain the same.
If things are similar and equal to June as the first practice may suggest, we could only be so lucky because the late race drama of Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, and Mark Martin was a classic.
Johnson had the ninth fastest lap this time around after setting the top time in June‘s first practice. Martin, who eventually won the June race and had the fastest Happy Hour times before the race, reeled off the sixth fastest lap. Martin only qualified 32nd in that June race, but ended up winning making his starting position the furthest back to win at Michigan.
Brian Vickers, the pole sitter in June, had the tenth fastest lap this time around after being second fastest in the first practice back in June. Despite a good finish in the first race and more at other horsepower tracks, Vickers and the Red Bull team opted to go with a brand new chassis this week hoping to be better in the their Chase run.
The only issue of practice was Kasey Kahne who lost an engine early on that had to be replaced. This is definitely not the type of start Kahne was looking for considering his fall from the Chase last season in the same situation heading to Michigan with four races remaining. Kahne’s back to back 40th place finishes last season, beginning with Michigan, sunk his chances of holding on to a top-12 spot and missed the Chase for the fourth time in his five year career.
Friday’s Top 5 Fastest Practice Speeds
1) Ryan Newman 189.155 mph - AVG 7 laps @ 186.703
2) Joey Logano 187.169 mph - AVG 9 laps @ 185.351
3) Juan Pablo Montoya 187.144 - AVG 8 laps @ 184.646
4) Martin Truex Jr 186.144 - AVG 10 laps @ 184.877
5) Carl Edwards 186.640 - AVG 11 laps @ 182.941