Race Weekend Central

Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch Lead Cup Practices at Bristol

The two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practices at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday (Aug. 17) were topped by Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, two drivers that are on separate sides of the spectrum when it comes to short track racing. Busch has won the last two races at Bristol, while Elliott is looking for his first short track victory.

Practice One

Elliott’s hot streak continued in Friday’s opening practice, with a speed of 126.415 mph, .040 seconds ahead of Kyle Larson (126.312 mph).

Elliott ran a total of 55 laps, as all teams were in race setup. He led a trio of Chevrolets at the front of the field, as his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman was third in the session (126.295 mph).

Last year’s Bristol night race pole winner, Erik Jones, was fourth in practice (126.187 mph), just ahead of Ryan Blaney, who rounded out the top five (126.146 mph).

Joey Logano was the best of the rest in sixth, while seven-time winner at Thunder Valley Kyle Busch was seventh, with five-time winner Kurt Busch in eighth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin completed the top 10.

Seven-time winner in 2018, Kevin Harvick, was mired in 15th in the opening 80 minutes of practice. The other member of the “Big 3,” Martin Truex Jr. was 17th. The reigning Cup Series champion was quickest in 10-lap average at 123.290 seconds, slightly faster than Kyle Busch.

Jesse Little turned 72 laps, the most of the 41 drivers who made a lap. This weekend is Little’s second-career race, should he qualify in on speed.

Full results from opening Cup Series practice

Final Practice 

Kyle Busch led the pack in final practice, posting a late speed of 126.729 mph, .050 seconds ahead of Truex (126.312 mph).

The No. 18 car made 47 laps, though the final few were solely preparing for qualifying. Busch is a tw0-time pole winner at Bristol.

Aric Almirola (126.287 mph) was third in the final 70 minutes of practice, ahead of Stenhouse (126.154 mph) and Harvick (125.914 mph), which rounded out the top five.

Jones was sixth on the scoring chart, with Bowman, Elliott, Kurt Busch and Hamlin filling the top 10.

Notable drivers that didn’t turn a great lap in final practice were Clint Bowyer (27th), Brad Keselowski (28th) and Jimmie Johnson (31st).

William Byron was 17th on single-lap speed, but ran a total of 97 laps, the most of all 41 drivers. Gray Gaulding was the slowest of the competitors, over eight-tenths of a second off the quick lap turned by Busch.

Larson was at the top of the best 10-lap category at a speed of 123.684 mph. 32 drivers made a run of at least 10 laps.

Full results from final practice 

Qualifying for Saturday’s NRA Night Race is scheduled to get underway at 5:40 p.m. ET. Jones is the defending pole winner and led 260 laps, en route to a second-place finish.

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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