Race Weekend Central

Jimmie Johnson Fastest in Caution-Plagued Opening Cup ROVAL Practice

Jimmie Johnson led the first and only practice session on Friday (Sept. 27) in what was filled with a plethora of delays due to incidents.

Johnson, who failed to make the playoffs for the first time ever in his career, ran 13 laps, with the final lap being the fastest at 103.182 mph. Kyle Larson, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top five.

Speeds are down significantly with the new backstretch chicane in play. Johnson’s lap was more than 3 mph slower than Kyle Busch‘s quick time in opening practice last year.

Chase Elliott was sixth quickest, followed by Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez. Ryan Preece and defending race winner Ryan Blaney were ninth and 10th, respectively.

Austin Cindric filled in for Michael McDowell after McDowell was sent to the hospital for abdominal pain. Cindric was 24th fastest out of the 40 cars that took time.

Shortly after practice ended, McDowell was cleared to race after he passed kidney stones, per McDowell’s crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.

During the session, there were plenty of incidents. Parker Kligerman hit the wall in turn 1 (Heartburn Turn) and will go to a backup car.

Following Kligerman’s incident, Denny Hamlin also was forced to go to a backup car after he backed it in to the turn 5 barrier.

“It’s supposed to kind of be a weekend off (for my team),” Hamlin told NBCSN. “But obviously I put them behind the eight ball here and took away some track time for myself. Really stinks. But definitely feel like our backup car will be fine.”

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Joe Nemechek and Bubba Wallace had minor incidents, but neither was severe enough to go to a backup car.


Qualifying is scheduled for later this afternoon at 4:40 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, with two practices on Saturday.

About the author

Bryan Nolen is the Podcast Manager for Frontstretch.com. He also hosts the Frontstretch Podcast with Bryan Nolen and occasionally makes appearances on The Happy Hour Podcast. He has a Sportscasting degree from the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting. He resides in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two rabbits.

Follow him on Twitter @TheBryanNolen

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