Friday, April 20, 2012

Kansas Practice Notes: Johnson Doesn't Hold Back, Fastest in Final Session

By Micah Roberts

Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas last fall (Getty)
Jimmie Johnson had the fastest lap of Friday’s final practice session at Kansas Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s STP 400. Johnson’s top speed of 174.955 mph came on his first lap in the first few minutes of the 90 minute session which was 5 mph faster than his top speed in the days earlier session when he was 29th fastest.

Speculation that a few teams sand-bagged it a little bit in the first session to get a better qualifying start time looked to become a reality after Johnson, Greg Biffle and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers all finished with considerably better practice times than the first session.

Mark Martin was 19th fastest in the earlier session, but finished second fastest (174.317) in the final session. Martin Truex Jr followed suit with the third fastest lap (173.801) while slowing the reigns earlier in the day. Biffle was fourth fastest (172.310) while only finishing 30th best in the earlier session. Hamlin also came on strong in the late stages of practice with the fifth fastest lap (172.889).

The only mishap on the final session was Tony Stewart slapping the wall, but damage to the right rear was minimal and he was able to have the 13th fastest lap when the 90 minutes was over.

Ryan Newman led the way with most laps run (78).

Kasey Kahne had the best 10 consecutive lap average (168.565) followed by Martin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Johnson.

Sunday’s race definitely has the look of being a battle between Johnson, Roush and the MWR drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also looked solid in both of the days two sessions.

Practice 2 (Final) Top-5 Speeds:
1) Jimmie Johnson 174.956
2) Mark Martin 174.317
3) Martin Truex Jr. 173.801
4) Greg Biffle 173.310
5) Denny Hamlin 172.89

Practice 2 Speeds 

Kyle Busch fastest in First Kansas Practice Sessions 

By Micah Roberts

Kyle Busch has never had a top-5 finish at Kansas (Getty)
Kyle Busch laid down the fastest lap in the first of two Friday practice session at Kansas Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s STP 400. Busch gained the top speed of 173.728 mph in the last half of the 80 minute session topping the speed Carl Edwards (172.900) set on his first lap of the session.

Kasey Kahne was third fastest (172.546) followed by Landon Cassill (172.469) and Dale Earnhardt Jr (172.469) to round out the quickest top-5.

There was a feeling throughout the garages that not every driver was putting in their best effort because it would be more rewarding to have a slower time in this first session. The order of finish from the first practice will determine the order teams roll out for qualifying Saturday with the slowest cars coming out first. Qualifying begins early in the morning when the temperatures will be at their coolest which will equate to faster times.

Drivers who looked suspiciously slow were Jimmie Johnson with the 29th fastest lap and Greg Biffle at No. 30. The Michael Waltrip drivers have been stars of past practice sessions on these type of tracks as well, but were all 19th or worse.

A positive sign on the day was seeing Tony Stewart come out strong with the seventh fastest lap at 172.249 mph. Stewart struggled last week at Texas in practices and the race itself, which came as a surprise because of strong runs at Las Vegas and California. Stewart is using the same chassis that won at California, a clone of the car that won at Las Vegas.

Martin Truex Jr. ran the most laps (45) of the session followed by Jeff Burton (43) and Earnhardt Jr (42).

Kasey Kahne had the best average speed (169.410) among all drivers that ran at least 25 laps followed by Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.

The best 10 consecutive lap average was run by Kyle Busch followed by Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmeninger. Only nine drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps.

The final 90 minute practice is scheduled for 4:30 (ET).

Practice 1 Top-5 Speeds:
1) Kyle Busch 173.728
2) Carl Edwards 172.900
3) Kasey Kahne 172.546
4) Landon Cassill 172.469
5) Dale Earnhardt Jr. 172.276

Kansas Practice 1 Speeds

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