MENCS: Final Practice Garage Talk Notes Texas


The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the final time at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday. Teams were working on long runs to try and get their cars dialed in for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

It has been an eventful weekend so far for NASCAR’s Premier Series.  Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott all spun out in Friday’s practice. Some of the top teams in the sport failed to qualify their cars so they will start in the back Sunday. These drivers include: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chris Buscher.

Jimmie Johnson spun out in qualifying and flat-spotted his tires. The No. 48 car will start in the back Sunday because teams must start the race on the tires they used in qualifying. Chad Knaus decided to change the tires so Jimmie will go to the back with many of his friends.

Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the final practice at Texas Motor Speedway…

Track Notes

– Each team gets 11 sets of tires for the race. Most teams spent the morning practice scuffing tires because it takes 3-4 laps for the tires to produce fast speeds.

– The track keeps getting faster and faster as more rubber is laid down. I would not worry too much about practice speeds. The teams will good handling cars will be up front Sunday.

– The race Sunday is 501 miles and engineers do not want more than 750 miles to be put on the engines. Since there has been 4 ½ hours of practice, plus qualifying this week, many of the teams were conservative as to how many laps they put on their engines in the final practice.


Driver Notes

Chase Elliott: The No. 24 car failed to qualify Friday and will start from the back. Elliott looked pretty good in practice. He was 3rd-fastest after his first run. With 15 minutes left in practice Elliott said, “It is about as good as we can get it. Should we park it now?”

Jimmie Johnson: The No. 48 changed his tires after qualifying and will start from the back. He will be scored from the 24th position in all games. Johnson told Chad Knaus, “The handling is pretty good. How are our times?” Knaus replied, “P1”.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The No. 88 car failed to qualify Friday and will start 37th Sunday. Earnhardt said the car was too tight.

Kasey Kahne: The No. 5 car failed to qualify and will start 35th Sunday. After a short run Kahne said, “It will be hard to pass with how loose the car is right now.” Kahne crashed his car at the end of practice. The team was looking at going to a backup car.

Kevin Harvick: The No. 4 car was focused on drivability of the car. Harvick was not the fastest but he was very happy with the car. He could drive the bottom similar to the way he did at Atlanta. He led 292 laps in that race.

Clint Bowyer: The No. 14 team said they love their car this week. They are working on fine tuning it and make it more like the No. 4 car.

Kurt Busch: Busch was relatively happy with the car. It was a little too loose but Busch likes it that way.

Danica Patrick: She made a 7 lap run and said it was way too loose. She could barely drive it.

Kyle Larson: The No. 42 car failed to qualify Friday and will start 32nd Sunday. He made a short run and said, “These tires are junk. Too bouncy…We need to make a change and try again.” He went to 3rd-fastest after the adjustments.

Jamie McMurray: His car was not as good as it was Friday. He was too loose into the corners. His crew chief was talking with Larson’s crew chief to adjust their setup. McMurray said, “I just have no grip.”

Brad Keselowski: The No. 2 car has been one of the fastest all weekend. They were working on old tires in practice so he was not at the top of the speed chart. It handles really well.

Joey Logano: He said he learned something in the Xfinity Series car and they added it to the Cup Series car. Logano was on old tires and that explains why he was down the speed chart. He said he was tight in 1 and 2 and loose in 3 and 4.

Ryan Blaney: He will start 2nd Sunday and the Wood brothers think they have a good car for the race Sunday. He was also on old tires in practice and 26th on the speed chart.

Kyle Busch: The No. 18 failed to qualify Friday and will start 34th Sunday. The car was too tight and they made three adjustments. The car was really good at the end of practice. Busch worked on pit road speed at the end of practice.

Matt Kenseth: Said his car keeps chattering in the corners. They made a spring adjustment to the car.

Denny Hamlin: The No. 11 car was too loose. They have been fighting a loose car all weekend. Hamlin said it almost spins out if they get the right side tires out of the groove.

Daniel Suarez: Started practice on sticker tires and was 23rd on the board. The team said they are mostly focused on getting Suarez comfortable in the car. They made some adjustments and Suarez was P5. He was pretty “content” with his car.

Martin Truex Jr.: The No. 78 car was not the fastest in practice. He said the car was just too tight. They needed major adjustments.

Erik Jones: The No. 77 failed to qualify Friday and will start 36th Sunday.

Austin Dillon: He said his No. 3 Chevy is tight on exit, but pretty good everywhere else. They brought him in for adjustments. Dillon thought he learned something in the Xfinity Series car.

Ryan Newman: The car was too tight. The team was working on the exit of the corners. It was just too tight and Newman could not get back into the gas.

Paul Menard: After a short run to begin practice Menard said it felt good. “We made gains from the morning practice.”

Ty Dillon: Dillon said, “Really tight! Really, really tight!!” Bootie Barker brought him in for adjustments. He was complaining about the car hitting the splitter on the front stretch.

AJ Allmendinger: The No. 43 was tight into the corner but good everywhere else. They made adjustments and Allmendinger went to #2 on the speed chart. They are happy with their car.

Chris Buescher: The No. 37 team made an 8 lap ran and Buescher said, “This is the best car we have had all year.” They brought him in for more adjustments to make it a little better.

Trevor Bayne: The No. 6 car looked fast all weekend. He was at the top of the leader board when he crashed his car. They will go to a backup car and start from the back. Bayne will be scored from the 12th position. Bayne made a short run in the backup car and said it was a little tight but similar to the practice.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: The No. 17 car was not as fast as his teammate (Bayne) but he said the car drove pretty good. The Roush Fenway Racing cars looked sporty this weekend.

Aric Almirola: Almirola sprained his wrist this week when he tripped over his daughter’s scooter. He is taking inflammatory medicine and has his wrist wrapped. He said it will be fine Sunday, but this is a 501 mile race and 1,336 turns. That is a lot of work on his hurting hand. He said the car drivers pretty good.

Landon Cassill: Their car was tight getting into the corner and Cassill was having a hard time running the bottom of the track. That is the fast way around.

David Ragan: He only ran 2 laps before the caution flag came out. Ragan said, “We are not we’re we need to be but it has potential.” The team will continue to work on the car.

Michael McDowell: Said on the radio, “Please free me up. It is way too tight.” They made it a lot better at the end of practice. The No. 95 car was 13th fastest at the end of practice. He thanked his team at the end of practice and said, “We got a top 15 car, now let’s get it done.” Leavine Family Racing is from Texas so this is a big race for them.


Cars that looked good in practice: Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.


Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Texas Speeds


Fastest 10-Lap Speed

  1. Kyle Busch 28.29
  2. Ryan Blaney 28.43
  3. Kyle Larson 28.45
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 28.48
  5. Kurt Busch 28.49
  6. Kasey Kahne 28.58
  7. Chris Buescher 28.59
  8. Erik Jones 28.60
  9. Denny Hamlin 28.63
  10. Jimmie Johnson 28.69

* Brad Keselowski was fastest on the 15-lap average and Kyle Busch was second fastest.


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