Friday, April 22, 2016

Harvick fastest in rain-shorted first Richmond practice

Stewart is back....ran lots of laps in practice.
Kevin Harvick was fastest during Friday's rain shortened first practice at Richmond International Raceway in preparation for Sunday's Toyota Owners 400. He laid down the fast lap at 129.069 mph on the second of his nine laps run on the flat 3/4-mile layout while in qualifying trim. It's a sign that three-time Richmond winner might be just as good as he was winning at Phoenix six weeks ago, a track requiring very similar set-ups.

The session was scheduled for 85 minutes, but was cut short to 62 minutes due to rain. Most teams saw the rain coming and used the practice exclusively for simulated qualifying runs. However, there were a couple teams searching for a good race day set-up. If Friday's qualifying (4:15 pm ET) is rained out, which is a distinct possibility (it did happen), the lineup will be set by the times from the first practice.

Joey Logano, who ran 35 laps, was second quickest in the session (128.694), followed by Jimmie Johnson (128.187), last week’s winner Carl Edwards (128.181) and then Virginian Denny Hamlin (128.156), who leads active drivers with 1,404 laps led at his home track.

Rounding out the top-10 quickest drivers in the session were Brad Keselowski (128.011), Kurt Busch (127.799), Kasey Kahne (127.334), Kyle Busch (127.298) and AJ Allmendinger (127.220). Kyle Busch has a series high four wins at Richmond and an amazing total of 14 top-five finishes in 21 starts,

Tony Stewart, in his first race of 2016 -- his farewell season, was 18th fastest and ran the most laps (38). The three-time Richmond winner also had the best 10-consecutive lap average among the six drivers that attempted as many laps in a row. Chase Elliott, with the 23rd fastest lap, ran the second-most laps (37).

On Saturday, the teams will have two more practice sessions in the morning, weather permitting, which will tell the entire story of what's going to happen on Sunday. Harvick and the Gibbs drivers look strong, but Logano, who won this race in 2014, should be in the mix.

Check back Saturday afternoon for the final analysis and driver ratings.

Richmond Practice #1

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