Saturday, August 20, 2011

Martin Fastest in Final Michigan Practice, But Menard Looks Better

Martin had his best practice of 2011 (Getty)
Mark Martin, with a lap speed of 187.642 mph, was the fastest in Saturday's final practice session for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Martin grabbed the top time early in the session and held on to have his best all around practices of any race this season.

Most of the teams spent Friday's session in qualifying trim with only a few making race runs. Between the two sessions, Martin was one of the overall fastest in either set-up. Martin is a five-time Michigan winner with the last coming in 2009.

Kyle Busch was second fastest with a lap speed 187.417 mph, and was followed by Jimmie Johnson (187.407), pole sitter Greg Biffle (187.393) and Jeff Gordon (187.246).

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during final practice were Kurt Busch (187.086), Matt Kenseth (187.003), Ryan Newman (186.916), David Ragan (186.901) and Paul Menard.

Despite Martin's resurgence, the star of the day looked to be Menard who had the fastest average lap times and best 10-consecutive lap average. Menard ran 43 laps and looks to be every bit as good as he was in the first Michigan race back in June where he finished fourth. Menard is using that exact same chassis this week.

Kyle Busch only has two-five finishes at Michigan, the second coming in June. Busch had perhaps the biggest turnaround in performance from qualifying trim to race trim between Friday and Saturday practices. Busch was second best in the 10-consecutive lap average while running 53 laps.

Kenseth ran 50 laps and solidified his place as the favorite after running the second best combined average lap times. Following his qualifying and practice efforts Friday, the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book installed Kenseth as the 6-to-1 favorite win from his opening odds of 12-to-1. Having the car that finished runner-up in June as well as winning at Texas shouldn't hurt his chances Sunday.

Green flag for Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled to drop at 1:20 PM (EDT) on Sunday afternoon.

Final Michigan Practice Speeds

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