Friday, August 5, 2016

A.J. Allmendinger fastest in final Watkins Glen practice session

A.J. Allmendinger is 8/1 to win Sunday at Watkins Glen.
A.J. Allmendinger has one legitimate shot remaining to make this years Chase -- winning Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen -- and he's off to a good start by throwing down the fastest lap at 127.551 mph during Friday's final practice session.

Allmendinger's fast lap came on his 14th and final lap turned on the 2.45-mile road course, shortly after his car was smoking from a loose oil line -- no lingering issues. He's hoping to duplicate his 2014 accomplishments when he won his only Cup race there to make his only Chase appearance.

Martin Truex Jr., who was fastest in the morning session, posted the second-best speed (127.481) on the third of his 18 laps run. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. turned some heads with the third fastest lap (127.416) followed by Kyle Busch (127.381) and Matt Kenseth (127.280). Stenhouse's best finish in three Cup starts at the Glen was 18th in his rookie year of 2013. Kenseth had a career-best fourth-place finish last season. Busch had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average among eight drivers.

Brad Keselowski was sixth fastest (126.872) followed by Michael McDowell (126.989), rookie Chase Elliott (126.970), four-time Watkins Glen winner Jeff Gordon (126.923) and Carl Edwards (126.872). McDowell is a road ace who participated in 32 Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series events, winning at Mexico City in 2005.

In addition to the track being repaved after last seasons race, there is also a new Goodyear tire compound used this weekend which has never been used before in the Cup Series. It's a much harder compound that barely wears out. Kurt Busch said on an NBCSN interview halfway through the second practice that he was still using the same set of tires that ran all 27 laps during the first session.

With tires not being an issue during the race, its reasonable to expect several teams to make two-tire pit stops throughout as strategy to make up positions.

Qualifying is set for Saturday at 12:15 pm ET.

Practice 2 Speeds

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