The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the final time at Richmond International Raceway Friday. It was another hot day that made for a slick track. Now that the field is set for Sunday, the teams worked on their race setup in the final practice.
Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the final practice at Richmond…
– Teams get four sets of tires for the three practice sessions. Most teams used three sets of tires in the first two practices and saved one set of tires for the final practice. Since teams were all different type of tires, practice times will not be as important this week.
– The sun was out and the track was hot and slick.
– The Joe Gibbs Racing cars focused on their pit road speed. Kyle Busch worked on running right next to the outside wall on pit road to see if he could gain an advantage by running faster but taking a longer angle around pit road.
– Kurt Busch had problems in the morning practice. His car was running on seven cylinders. The team changed the spark plug wires and it seemed to fix the problem.
Chase Elliott: The team said the car did not have any balance in the car. They made long runs in practice. Elliott ran the bottom of the track better than any other car.
Jimmie Johnson: He made a long run and Jimmie said, “It is not there yet.” They brought it in to make adjustments.” The No. 48 team said they are not perfect but they are very happy with their car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The No. 88 team made a spring adjustment between practices and Earnhardt said the car is much better. He was one of the first cars to run the top of the track. Earnhardt could be a good sleeper pick if the top groove comes in this weekend.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne really liked the way his car drove. The team thinks they are competitive on the long runs.
Kevin Harvick: The No. 4 team ran practice on scuff tires. Harvick feels as though the car gets through the corners pretty well. Harvick was just working on managing his tires.
Clint Bowyer: The No. 14 team did not have any new tires so they ran the practice on scuff tires. Bowyer said the car is “Pretty sporty”. Tony Stewart worked with Clint to get his car dialed in. Tony said, “We are on top of our game this week”. Denny Hamlin said, “The No. 14 car is bad fast!!”
Kurt Busch: The No. 41 car had problems in the morning practice but they have everything fixed. They made some adjustments to what the No. 4 and No. 14 are running and Busch thinks the car is very good now. Busch was on old tires and as competitive as the other cars. At the end of practice he had electrical issues.
Danica Patrick: “Loose off and tight in the center” is the problem Danica is fighting in her car.
Kyle Larson: Larson did not like his car in the morning practice but he loves it now that it is hot and slick. Larson made a long run early in practice and had the fastest car. His car lost a lot of speed over the long runs. He almost hit the wall at the end of practice.
Jamie McMurray: His car was pretty good. McMurray said, “This is going to be all about managing tires. I am just taking it easy out here.” McMurray thinks his car is the best in turns 1 and 2 but needs work in turns 3 and 4. He is very happy with his car.
Brad Keselowski: Paul Wolfe sent Keselowski out for a long run and he said it was still a little loose out of the corner.
Joey Logano: Ran practice on old tires. His car was loose in the corners. He was trying to find more long run speed. Logano ran the bottom of the track well.
Ryan Blaney: The No. 21 was one of the fastest over the long runs.
Kyle Busch: The No. 18 car was on scuff tires but they were one of the fastest on the long runs. Busch said he needed a little more forward bite and it will be go-to-go. Clint Bowyer said on the radio, “Damn the No. 18 is fast as shit out here!!!”
Matt Kenseth: The No. 20 car looked good early in practice. He came out on new tires and was passing many cars. Kenseth had one of the fastest cars on the long runs.
Denny Hamlin: The No. 11 car is much better than the morning practice. Hamlin said he thinks it rotates well in the corners. Hamlin likes his car. He said he has the feel in the car he was looking for.
Daniel Suarez: Made long runs in practice.
Martin Truex Jr.: Truex was once again fast in practice. He came out and went straight to the top of the board. Truex had the fastest car out of the corners and was passing many cars in practice.
Erik Jones: The team liked their car. They worked on long runs. Jones was fastest in the morning practice.
Austin Dillon: They were fighting a loose racecar all practice. He made a long run and then the team made adjustments.
Ryan Newman: The car was too tight. It ran well this morning but lost a lot of speed when the sun came out.
Paul Menard: The No. 27 car was fast to begin a lap but lost speed over the long runs.
Ty Dillon: His car was pretty good. Just needed more speed on the exit of the corners.
AJ Allmendinger: His car was too tight into the car and tight out of the corner. At the end of practice Allmendinger said they made gains but needed a little more front grip.
Chris Buescher: The No. 37 team had top-20 speed all weekend. He seemed to like his car. At the end of practice Buescher said the car is pretty close to where they need to be.
Trevor Bayne: He was tight entering the corner and loose off of the corner. They made some adjustments and Bayne said it is much better. The team ran 60 laps in practice.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: His car was very fast over the long runs.
Aric Almirola: He made a 20 lap run and said the car was too tight. They brought it in for adjustments. Stenhouse ran right against the wall. The 17 and 88 were the two that ran the top the best.
Landon Cassill: The team definitely needs more front grip.
David Ragan: Said the car is way too free on entry.
Michael McDowell: The No. 95 team made a long run and McDowell asked, “How are my lap times?” His crew chief said… “Top 20 good”.
Timmy Hill: Did not practice.
Cars that looked good in practice: Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick
Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Richmond Practice Speeds
Darrell Waltrip Picks: Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin as the cars to run well this week.
Mike Joy Picks: Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. as the drivers to beat.
Jeff Gordon Picks: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin as the fastest cars.
Best 20-Lap Average Speeds
- Denny Hamlin 23.19
- Kyle Busch 23.25
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 23.25
- Ryan Blaney 23.26
- Kasey Kahne 23.27
Best 30-Lap Average Speeds
- Kyle Busch 23.45
- Ryan Blaney 23.46
- Jamie McMurray 23.47
- Austin Dillon 23.52
- Martin Truex Jr. 23.58
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