Friday, March 16, 2012

Bristol Practice Notes: Kyle Busch, Kahne and Keselowski Shine in Final Sessions

Kyle Busch is the driver to beat Sunday
Ryan Newman led the way with the fastest lap and best 10 consecutive lap average during Saturday’s final practice session at Bristol in preparation for Sunday’s for Food City 500, but a few other drivers shined a little brighter on the day.

Five-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch was second fastest with a lap of 121.836 mph giving Busch the second fastest single lap in each of Saturday's two sessions. Brad Keselowski won last fall at Bristol and looks primed to make it two in a row based on his laps. He had the third fastest lap (121.682 mph) and had very impressive average speeds.

Kasey Kahne ran the fifth fastest single lap (121.682 mph), but had the top average speed among all driver who ran at least 60 laps. Kahne might be Kyle’s biggest challenger on Sunday based on his effort from both of Saturday’s practices. This is the third straight week that Kahne has looked to be the best in practice.

Most of the drivers used the final session to maximize their speeds on long runs which make the average speeds very important, more so than the 10 consecutive lap average because a tank of fuel covers more laps at Bristol than most tracks. 10 consecutive laps is too small of a sampling here to get the best read.

Drivers who impressed in average speeds along with Kahne and Keselowski were Martin Truex Jr and A,J, Allmendinger. Truex Jr was in the top-10 of both practices in single lap times and ran 70 laps for a 119.403 mph average.

Allmendinger was fastest in the earlier session, but fell to 17th during the final practice. However, his average speeds (87 laps for 119.384 average) suggest he’ll be competing for a top-5 finish or better in Sunday’s race.

Jeff Gordon is also a driver that showed he can compete for his sixth Bristol win with the ninth fastest single lap and good average speeds.

Greg Biffle didn’t do anything spectacular in practice, but the points leader and pole sitter should be fine as he attempts to win his first short track race.

Top-5 Final Practice Speeds:
1. Ryan Newman 121.883 mph (92 laps for 118.962 average)
2. Kyle Busch 121.836 mph (81 laps for 118.722 average)
3. Brad Keselowski 121.682 mph (94 laps for 119.310 average)
4. David Reutimann 121.682 mph (39 laps for 119.758 average)
5. Kasey Kahne 121.628 mph (60 laps for 119.567 average)

Notes: Kahne’s average lap times were fastest among drivers with at least 60 laps run. Jeff Burton ran the most laps of the session with 108 followed by Jimmie Johnson with 102.

Final Practice Speeds

Allmendinger Fastest in Saturday's First Session

AJ Allmendinger still looking fast in practice (Getty)
The NSCS drivers hit the track early Saturday morning for their second Food City 500 practice session, and it was AJ Allmendinger, with a lap speed of 122.638 mph, posting the fastest lap during the session at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch, with a lap speed of 122.576 mph, was the second fastest with Ryan Newman (122.443 mph), Greg Biffle (122.380) and Martin Truex Jr. (122.341) rounding out the top-5.

Look-out! Five-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch is fast in practice. Here in Las Vegas, a few sports books have him as low as 4-to-1 to win the race...and that was even before this practice.

Kasey Kahne (122.333 mph) was sixth fastest followed by Aric Almirola (122.310), Denny Hamlin (122.217), Matt Kenseth (122.209) and Jeff Burton (122.201 mph).

I'm not surprised that Allmendinger is fast, but what is kind of shocking is how well his former car has run on four vastly different type of tracks thus far. The final results at Daytona and Las Vegas aren't anything great to write home about, but the No. 43 practices, particularly at Phoenix and Vegas, are.

Kahne had the best 10 consecutive lap average followed by Newman, Truex Jr and Brad Keselowski.  

Practice 2 Top-5 Speeds:
#22-Allmendinger 122.638
#18-Busch 122.576
#39-Newman 122.443
#16-Biffle 122.380
#56-Truex Jr. 122.341
slowest: #49-Yeley 119.447 & #23-Riggs 119.648
no speed; #74-Sorenson
notes: #48-Johnson spun and #27-Menard got into the left rear of the #48, causing slight damage to the #48. (

Practice 2 Results

Edwards Fastest in First Practice Session

Fast start to weekend for Edwards (Getty)
Carl Edwards, with a lap speed of 123.921 mph, posted the fastest lap during the first Food City 500 practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards had laid down the fastest lap within his first laps run in the 90 minute session, but after about 50 minutes into it, A.J. Allmenndinger took the top slot. That only lasted for a few minutes as Edwards went back out and took it right back. Edwards was visibly excited about being the fastest in practice after struggling the last two weeks in practice.

Most of the top times were in qualifying trim, but several teams ran quite a few laps in race trim to get additional information and a head start going into tomorrow's final practices.

Allmendinger remained second fastest and with a lap speed of 123.881 mph and was followed by Marcos Ambrose (123.865 mph), Joey Logano (123.826 mph) and Ryan Newman (123.730).

Jeff Gordon (123.730 mph) was sixth fastest, while Regan Smith and Kevin Harvick with the identical lap speed of 123.658 mph, were recorded seventh and eighth fastest respectively. Martin Truex Jr (123.650) and Kyle Busch (123.594) rounded out the top-ten fastest during practice.

Jamie McMurray ran the most laps (69) of the session followed by Paul Menard (54).

The teams will return to the track later this afternoon for their 3:40 pm (ET) scheduled qualifying session, and then return again on Saturday for two more practice sessions.

Friday Practice Speeds

Biffle on the Pole - Starting Lineup

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