For much of Saturday’s final practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. had a top-five car on one-lap speed. But with less than 20 minutes remaining, the No. 78 car hopped to the top of the leaderboard to win the session.
Truex posted a lap of 131.624 mph, which narrowly edged out fellow “Big Three” member Kevin Harvick (131.556 mph). Kyle Busch wasn’t far behind in third (131.488 mph).
After leading the way in the morning practice Denny Hamlin was fourth (131.456 mph), and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson jumped into the top five as time expired (131.438 mph).
Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10.
Ryan Blaney, who has been quick all weekend ended the session just outside the top 10 in 11th, and polesitter Kurt Busch was 12th. Kyle Larson had an abbreviated practice after the No. 42 crew was repairing damage to the right rear quarter panel that he received in an earlier skirmish with the wall.
There were two incidents in the session, the first coming near the halfway point when Michael McDowell spun going into Turn 3, slamming the outside wall driver’s side first. The second came with less than 10 minutes remaining when Landon Cassill locked up his tires going into the same turn, also hitting the wall.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” McDowell said. “I got on the brakes and immediately the car started to turn around, so it definitely caught me off-guard whatever it was and at that point I was kind of just along for the ride. There wasn’t any indication that something was going wrong other than when I was already too late.”
#NASCAR … @Mc_Driver’s car after hitting the wall in final Cup practice. pic.twitter.com/XIIf4Ocroj
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) July 21, 2018
Both teams have elected on going to backup cars.
Harvick had the quickest 10-lap average at 130.904 mph. Kyle Busch was the only driver to eclipse 50 laps in the practice, running exactly 50.
Weather permitting, the green flag for Sunday’s Foxwoods Casino 301 is scheduled to wave shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Hamlin is the defending race winner.
Full final practice results for Cup Series at NHMS
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.
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A pox on whomever started the terminology of “winning practice.” Is there a trophy or a cash prize???????????????