|Larson seems to like New Hampshire...a lot.|
Larson has been one of those drivers where you don’t want to get too excited about his great practice times because it doesn’t transfer over to race day often. But at New Hampshire it’s a different story, at least based on his two Cup starts. In the same first practice at this race last season Larson had the second-fastest lap and it turned into a third-place finish. In the fall, Larson had the fifth-fastest lap in the first practice and it turned into a runner-up finish. His next natural progression is a win, right?
Kyle Busch might have something to say about that. He posted the fast lap (133.666) of the session just prior to Larson besting him. This has always been a good track for Busch and he comes in on a roll with wins in two of the past three Cup races (Sonoma and Kentucky). In addition to Busch’s 2006 New Hampshire win, he has also finished second in three of the past four events.
Joe Gibbs Racing looked good on the day with both Busch and Carl Edwards (fourth fastest - 133.431) looking like strong contenders. Edwards said he hasn’t had a car this good at New Hampshire in a while. Edwards also had the second-best 10-consecutive lap average among the six drivers attempting as many in a row. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the best average while having the 19th fastest lap (132.452) overall.
Third fastest at 133.469 mph was Larson’s Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray, who has had a good run this season at the similar flat tracks of Phoenix and Richmond. McMurray’s fast lap came on the final of his 20 laps run, but was only 17th fastest prior.
Penske Racing swept New Hampshire last season and Brad Keselowski came in with the fifth fastest lap (133.399) while two-time New Hampshire winner Joey Logano was 14th fastest (132.799) on his home track.
Kevin Harvick opened the week as the 7-to-2 favorite and ended up ninth-fastest (133.059).
Qualifying is scheduled for Friday at 4:45 pm ET. We’ll have an update following Saturday’s two practice sessions, where all the runs will be in race trim, as well as our final driver ratings.
Practice 1 Speeds