RICHMOND, Va. – After finishing 22nd in the first practice, Juan Pablo Montoya snatched the top of the leaderboard from Kevin Harvick with about five minutes left in Happy Hour at Richmond International Raceway. Montoya’s teammate, Jamie McMurray rebounded in the last session, finishing ninth after struggling to run 26th in the earlier practice.
Richard Childress Racing was the team winner in Happy Hour with three drivers in the top-eight spots. Harvick actually led a good portion of practice, opting to take his car to the garage with 10 minutes left after completing all adjustments on his Chevrolet. Harvick and team owner Richard Childress were very pleased with the No. 29 Budweiser car and felt they “hit” on something late in the practice session.
Childress told Harvick and Crew Chief, Gil Martin to “keep that in a bottle for later” when referencing the hidden gem they had found. Harvick wound up runner-up in the session, while Clint Bowyer finished fifth and teammate Jeff Burton wound up seventh.
Regan Smith continued his surprising season in practice and qualifying by jumping from 15th place in the first practice to fourth place in the final session. Smith, like several other finishing in the top 10, ran fewer than 10 laps to finish practice for the afternoon.
A quick review of our top 10 in final practice:
1) Juan Pablo Montoya – 125.360 mph
2) Kevin Harvick – 125.354
3) Carl Edwards – 125.145
4) Regan Smith – 124.867
5) Clint Bowyer – 124.378
6) Brad Keselowski – 124.269
7) Jeff Burton – 124.241
8) Ryan Newman – 124.229
9) Jamie McMurray – 124.087
10) Tony Stewart – 124.081
JJ Yeley, who has struggled for much of the season, suffered yet another disappointing setback in final practice when a plume of smoke poured from the No. 46 Chevrolet. Yeley is already in a position where he needs to qualify on speed, so today’s ugly turn of events doesn’t help his cause. Among other notables that were outside the top 25 in final practice were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.