Friday, April 27, 2012

Richmond Practice Notes: Junior Fastest in Final Session, Kyle and Clint Look Sharp

By Micah Roberts

The kid may speak the truth this week
With less than five minutes remaining in Friday’s final Richmond practice session, Dale Earnhardt Jr laid down the fastest lap at 123.853 mph while running a mock qualifying lap. Almost half the drivers in the field used the 45 minute session to finalize their qualifying set-up after getting enough data in race trim during the two-hour session run earlier in the day.

Carl Edwards was second fastest and captured what was the top speed (123.706) of the session during his first lap until Junior topped it. Edwards didn’t run more than two laps until the late stages of practice and finished with a total of eight laps run.

Landon Cassill (123.209) was third fastest followed by Jeff Gordon (123.113)  and Kyle Busch (122.783). Gordon gained his top speed in the last of his 11 laps run while Busch captured his in the second of his 39 laps.

Busch has won the last three spring Richmond races, but didn’t get off to great start in the first session making it appear he might not be in too good of shape to make it four in a row. He missed out on a good run the early part of the session when the track was cool and his 23rd fastest speed from that practice doesn’t necessarily give the proper reading. Busch got better as the two-hours went on and it carried over into the final practice

Brad Keselowski had the 12th best lap, but ran a total of 62 laps, 13 more than the next closest (Joey Logano) and he looked great doing it. Keselowski had the second best 10 consecutive lap average behind Mark Martin. Just behind Keselowski in the category was Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Busch.

Aric Almirola also stood out in the final practice with the eighth best 10 consecutive lap average while having only 18th fastest single lap, a continuance from a strong first practice.

Only 21 drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps.

Practice 2 Top-5 Speeds:
1) Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 123.853
2) Carl Edwards 123.706
3) Landon Cassill 123.209
4) Jeff Gordon 123.113
5) Kyle Busch 122.783

Final Practice Speeds

Martin Fastest in First Practice, But Bowyer Looks the Best

Clint Bowyer has the look of a winner in practice (Getty)
It only took the first 10 minutes of the Friday’s two-hour practice session at Richmond to figure out who was the fastest and there was little doubt from everyone that that those top times couldn’t be matched due to the track getting much warmer. Mark Martin laid down the fastest lap of the session at 126.707 mph showing once again that Michael Waltrip Racing is fast on just about every track put in front of the team.

Greg Biffle came in second fastest (126.186) and looks like his current form holds more weight than his recent past performances at Richmond. Biffle’s last top-10 finish at Richmond came in the fall of 2006. Paul Menard was third fastest (126.139), but shortly after smacked the wall and was forced to go with their back-up car, a car they never got set properly in the short amount of time they had after finally getting it on the track.

2008 Richmond winner Clint Bowyer finished with the fourth fastest lap (126.133) followed by Joey Logano (125.997) and Jimmie Johnson (125.886).

Brad Keselwoski ran the most laps (82) of the session and also had the eighth fastest lap.

The two favorites to win Saturday night’s race are Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was solid with the 10th fastest lap while Busch came in 23rd.

The fastest average speed of the session among all drivers that ran at least 50 laps belonged to Bowyer (120.227), Marcos Ambrose (120.219) and Aric Almirola (120.202). Those who were impressive running less than 50 laps were Martin Truex Jr, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Harvick had to make a transmission change during the session. Bowyer’s times are the more impressive because he ran 72 laps.   

Matt Kenseth had the best 10 consecutive lap average followed by Bowyer and Carl Edwards, but perhaps the best sign of all was Kyle Busch coming in sixth in this category only because he did it late in the session from lap 41 through 50 while the others all did it early.

The final 45 minute practice session is scheduled for 2:25 pm (ET) with qualifying set to begin at 5:35 pm.

Practice 1 Speeds

No comments: