Friday, June 14, 2013

Michigan Practice Notes: Kahne tops charts at over 200 mph in first session

Kasey Kahne (15/1) was fastest during Friday's practice session
Kasey Kahne was fastest in Friday's practice session at Michigan International Speedway, laying down a lap at 200.619 mph. Kahne was one of four drivers during the 90-minute session top top 200 mph and should be considered one of the favorites to win the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400.

There is plenty to like about Kahne at Michigan beyond simply being fast in qualifying trim. He's been runner-up at Las Vegas, Kansas and Charlotte, and he's using the same chassis that ran at Kansas and Charlotte. Being runner-up in nothing new for Kahne, especially at Michigan where it's happened three times. He won there in 2006 and finished third in the fall last season.

Kurt Busch continued his remarkable run of being fast in practices by posting the second fastest lap at 200.239 mph. Aric Almirola (200.028 mph) was next next, followed by Kevin Harvick (200.011) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (199.922).

Busch is a two-time Michigan winner, and it's not a surprise to see Almirola show some speed since he's using a seventh-place Texas chassis. Harvick is a past winner (2010) and also won on the last 1.5-mile fast track raced on, at Charlotte. Earnhardt Jr.'s last two wins in the Cup series have come at Michigan, including this race last season. He's using that same winning chassis this week.

Mark Martin (199.861 mph) was next with sixth quickest lap, then came Martin Truex, Jr. (199.595), Jimmie Johnson (199.523), Austin Dillon (199.490) and Carl Edwards (199.369).

Martin, a four-time Michigan winner, will be the only Toyota running on maximum horse power this week, while the five other Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers -- considered Chase contenders -- will be running about 12-15 horsepower less than normal to lessen the chances of expiring engines. Last week at Pocono, Toyota ran about 22-24 horsepower less than what we had seen through the first third of the season, and it showed in practice and race day.

David Ragan ran the most laps (28), while no driver ran as many as 10 consecutive laps. 

We'll get a look at average times on Saturday when every team will be exclusively in race trim. Chances are, Jimmie Johnson -- attempting to get his first Michigan win ever -- will be one of those fast drivers along with his two Hendrick teammates. We should also expect the Roush duo of Edwards and Greg Biffle to perform well on long runs during their final practices.    

Michigan Practice 1 Speeds

Friday's Driver Quotes:

“I’ve been ready for a long time. We’ve been so close here. But, when it happens, it will make it all that sweeter for us. The exciting thing is we’ve been plenty fast here over the years. But getting to the final lap and seeing that checkered flag has been a little more difficult than I could imagine.”

GREG BIFFLE ON HOW THIS IS A BIG WEEKEND FOR ROUSH AND FORD, AND IF THERE EXTRA INCENTIVE TO WIN THIS RACE? “Definitely and coming off our second-place run at Pocono last week, we definitely didn’t probably have a second-place car, but I’m gonna say we were close to it. We hopefully feel like we’ve learned a few things last week that we can apply here today with the amount of practice we have. Hopefully, we can continue to learn and make our cars a little bit better, which we need to continue to do. This is one of my favorite places – a fourth and a win here last year – so we can hopefully do at least the same this year, if not better.”

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