The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the final time at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday. The inspection process had some hiccups but for the first time in weeks most of the cars got to lay down a qualifying lap. Now the teams have to dial in the cars for a marathon 600-mile race.
Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the final practice at Charlotte…
There was a morning practice at Charlotte. Most of the cars raced the bottom of the track but some went to the top. Kyle Larson said the grip strip did not make as much of a difference as he thought it would. Dale Earnhardt Jr. liked the top groove. It should be a lot better after the Xfinity Series race.
Ryan Blaney had the fastest time in the morning practice. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson also looked good.
Erik Jones said something broke in his car in the morning practice.
The track conditions in final practice are much different than the race conditions Sunday. While it is important to see who has the fast cars, some of the cars who are not at the top of the speed chart could be fast tomorrow. Track temp was 130 degrees in practice and should be 95 degrees on Sunday.
Chase Elliott: The No. 24 car was on scuff tires when they made their long run. He was 21st fastest at the time.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie went out on scuff tires and got really loose. Chad Knaus brought him in for some adjustments. Chad said they wanted it to be a little loose since it should tighten up in the race. They may have over done it a tad.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior happy with his car? He said, “OK man… we are heading in the right direction. Give me some more front grip and we should be good.” The No. 88 team put new tires on Earnhardt’s car and he went to 7th on the speed chart.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne said the car was loose. It sounds like all of the Hendrick Motorsports cars started practice with a loose setup because they think the cooler track conditions tomorrow will tighten them up. They made another long run and he said, “It is a lot better.”
Kevin Harvick: Kevin was on scuff tires making a long race run. The team was working on the balance of the car (getting in and out of the corners). Harvick said he was not worried about the speed in this practice. He thinks they have a good car for tomorrow.
Clint Bowyer: The No. 14 team was working on long run speed in practice. They said they did not mind giving up some initial speed in order to gain long run speed in the car. Bowyer said the car was too tight. It is the same car he drove in the All-Star Race. That car checked out in the first Open Race last weekend.
Kurt Busch: Kurt was loose at the beginning of practice so the team brought him in for adjustments. At the end of practice he said, “That change tightened us up. We are getting close.”
Danica Patrick: After an early run on scuff tires Danica said, “It is still loose. I feel like I am spinning out entering the corner.” She was 25th fastest. The team made a spring adjustment and sent Danica out for a long run.
Kyle Larson: The No. 42 car was the first on the track and he immediately when to the top of the speed chart. Larson practiced running at the top (not surprising) and he almost spun out. I am sure he liked it though. Larson is driving the same car he had in the All-Star Race. It was the best car in the field.
Jamie McMurray: McMurray started the practice on old tires and he got a flat tire early in practice. McMurray has the car from the All-Star Race. He said this car was fast on the long runs and there were not enough long runs in the race. He was fastest today on the long run.
Brad Keselowski: The No. 2 car got loose and hit the wall early and slid through the grass early in practice. He had damage to the back right fender. They should be able to fix it.
Joey Logano: Joey was horrible in the morning but they made huge changes between the practice sessions. They put a setup in the car they used in the past that worked and Joey was 10th fastest after his first run.
Ryan Blaney: The No. 21 car thinks their car is dialed in. He was fastest in the morning practice and second fastest early in Happy Hour Practice. The team changed a shock at the end of practice to help give Blaney a more consistent driving car.
Kyle Busch: Kyle said, “It is loose but the car does what I want it to do.”
Matt Kenseth: Matt said the balance felt really good. He crew told him that his long run speed looks pretty good. Matt was 2nd-fastest on the long run.
Denny Hamlin: The No. 11 team had new tires on the car and went out to make a long run. He was 11th fastest.
Daniel Suarez: Suarez was working on a long run on new tires. He said the car starts loose but gets tighter as he gets deeper into a run. He was 8th fastest at the time.
Martin Truex Jr.: Truex was on scuff tires in practice.
Erik Jones: The team checked out the car from front to back to see what broke in the morning practice. They never found out what the issue was.
Austin Dillon: Austin thinks the No. 3 car is pretty close. He said, “Just a little loose on entry.” His team told him the track conditions should tighten him up tomorrow.
Ryan Newman: The Rocket Man is really happy with his car. He said the balance is good. This is one of Newman’s best tracks. Luke Lambert told Newman, “Our lap times are pretty stout.”
Paul Menard: Paul went out on new tires and said the car is better than it was in the morning practice. They still needed to work on the speed out of the corners.
Ty Dillon: Dillon was one of the first drivers to work the high groove. In the middle of practice Dillon said it is getting a lot better.
AJ Allmendinger: AJ reported a vibration in the back of the car. They brought it in to look at it.
Chris Buescher: Chris said, “It is a little loose but I can handle it. I just need help getting through these bumps.”
Trevor Bayne: Bayne almost spun out half-way through practice. He said, “Way too loose.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky and the No. 17 team really likes their car but they were only 19th fastest after their long race long. The team made some more adjustments and Stenhouse said. “The car is really consistent.” They parked the car with 10 minutes left in practice. That is usually a good sign.
Regan Smith: Smith is having problems getting through turn three. He said the car is getting better but still needs more work.
Landon Cassill: His car was loose entering the corner. He starts 31st Sunday and was 28th fastest after a long run. They need more speed.
David Ragan: Ragan said it drivers well but he needs a lot more speed.
Michael McDowell: The car was a little free. The brought him in to tighten it up. McDowell made another long run and he said the cars was losing grip and sending him up the track. They were on old tires. The No. 95 made a 7 lap run and McDowell said, “that is a lot better.”
Cars that looked good in practice: Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
Best 10-lap average:
- Jamie McMurray 180.914
- Matt Kenseth 180.526
- Chase Elliott 180.482
- Kyle Larson 180.414
- Jimmie Johnson 180.370
Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Charlotte Practice Speeds
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