MENCS: Final Practices Garage Talk Notes Auto Club


The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the final time at Auto Club Speedway Saturday. This story of the weekend has been tires and loose racecars. The teams with the best 10-lap average speed will be a good place to start building your lineup for Sunday’s race.

Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the final practice at Auto Club Speedway…

Track Notes

Final practice was partly cloudy and cool. The temps were about 59 degrees. It is forecasted to be 65 degrees at green flag tomorrow.

Teams are having a lot of problems getting through the seams in turn two. I expect many cautions this week.


Driver Notes

Chase Elliott: Started the practice on new tires and went straight to the top of the speed chart. Elliott said the car was a little loose but manageable. During his second run Elliott got a flight tire and got into the wall. The damage did not seem to be bad.

Jimmie Johnson: The no. 48 car went out and made a 17 lap run. He said the balance is pretty good. Jimmie said it drives well. Usually that is more important than having blazing speed for this team. Jimmie and Kevin Harvick ran the bottom of the track better than any other drivers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: They started the practice on scuff tires. He said it is hard to turn into the corner. They put new tires on the car with an air pressure adjustment. Junior said the car is getting better after his second run.

Kasey Kahne: The No. 5 team worked on the car bouncing too much. Kahne said it was hard to hold onto. On his second run Kahne said, “It is much better.”

Kevin Harvick: The No. 4 car got into the wall in practice 2 and smashed the back fender. They fixed it and will not go to a back-up car. Harvick started practice on tires with 12 laps on them so his speed was slower. The team worked to make his car tighter. After the first run Harvick liked his car. Harvick really worked hard taking the air off other cars spoilers and making passes. He was one of the only cars on the bottom.

Clint Bowyer: Clint said, “It is really pushy in the corner.” Clint was 24th on the speed chart at the time.

Kurt Busch: Kurt said the car is a lot better than the last practice. He said they fixed the tightness in the car, but they need more speed out of the corner. He was 8th on the speed chart at the time. The team thought they had alternator problems again because the digital dash was flashing, but they found out someone turned the switch off. Crises avoided. After a 12 lap run Kurt said, “This is the best we have been all weekend.” After the very end of practice he scraped the wall.

Danica Patrick: The birthday girl started out with a 16 lap run and she said, “We have no grip.” She was 28th fastest at the time.

Kyle Larson: Before practice Larson said, “The car is really good. There is not much more we need out of it. We have two sets of tires so we will work on our long run speeds in final practice.” The No. 42 team waited 10 minutes for more rubber to be laid down before they started practice. Kyle said his car needed to be tightened up. Larson scraped the wall after his second run in practice. The team worked to fix the cosmetic damage. After they fixed the damage he ran his fastest lap of the practice.

Jamie McMurray: Before practice McMurray said, “The top is the fastest way around the track this week and that is where our car runs the best. We will work to get it a little better at the bottom.” Jamie said, “Did we bring enough tear offs for the weekend? The bugs are terrible here. I can barely see.”

Brad Keselowski: Started practice on scuff tires. He was 16th fastest after his first run.

Joey Logano: Logano started practice on new tires and was 5th fastest. He turned his fasted lap on his last run which is good news for the No. 22 team.

Ryan Blaney: Started practice on new tires. He was 3rd fastest after his first run. He said is was a little loose but not bad.

Kyle Busch: At the beginning of practice Busch said, “Where is the No. 24 car running. We need to run the line he is running.” Busch spun out half-way through practice. He did not hit anything but flattened all of his tires. The team was beating the front end with a sledgehammer at the end of practice. I am not sure that is a good sign.

Matt Kenseth: The No. 20 team made a 16 lap run and Kenseth said, “It is not bad but not where we need to be.” He was 6th fastest at the time.

Denny Hamlin: The No. 11 team is pretty happy with their car. They had 3 sets of tires for final practice. They plan to just dial it in a bit in this practice.

Daniel Suarez: He is still trying to get comfortable in the car. Suarez is reporting the car is loose getting out of the corner. At the end of practice Suarez said, “The top will be the best for me. I think I can run there pretty well.”

Martin Truex Jr.: Came out and made a long run. Truex reported the car is a lot better than the last practice. His crew chief told him that his car does not fall off as much as the other cars. The Furniture Row Racing cars had the best long run speed. Truex had the fastest 5-lap and 10-lap average speed.

Erik Jones: He said their team put the wrong setup in the car in qualifying. He still starts 14th Sunday. He had the fastest car in the 2nd practice with the best 10-lap average speed. After a long run to begin practice Jones liked his car. Jones was 4th on the speed chart. After a long run Jones had the fastest car on the 15-lap average speed chart.

Austin Dillon: The No. 3 team fought a tight racecar the entire practice. At the end of practice Austin said it is still too tight.

Ryan Newman: The car starts out to loose and gets tighter and tighter. After 10 laps he can barely turn it. The No. 31 team will work to free Newman up.

Paul Menard: He said the balance is pretty good, but the seams in the track are freeing him up. Menard would like to be able to run the bottom below the seams.

Ty Dillon: After an 8 lap run Dillon brought the car into the garage and said they needed a lot of work. Crew chief Bootie Barker told him, “Let’s throw the kitchen sink at it and see how it runs.”

AJ Allmendinger: AJ said the balance is pretty good; it just needs more speed in the center of the corner.

Trevor Bayne: The No. 6 team was having a hard time finding a line that would work for their car. He ran the top, the middle and the bottom and the car was too loose and bouncing too much.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: The No. 17 kissed the wall for the second time today. The team spent more time fixing damage than they did running laps.

Aric Almirola: The team had a bearing go out in the steering box in qualifying. As a result Almirola will start 31st Sunday. They fixed it and he has had top 20 speed all weekend. He said his car was just a little tight in the center of the corner.

Landon Cassill: Cassill said the car starts off tight and gets free as the tire pressure come up. He thinks it is not too bad.

David Ragan: He hit the wall in practice two and will go to a back-up car and start last Sunday.

Michael McDowell: His crew chief told him, “Your lap speeds are really good. Your 10th lap is as fast as your 1st lap.” The team made a shock adjustment before their final run.

Matt Dibenedetto: He did not get a chance to qualify his car Friday. As a result he will start the race 38th. His car has been top 30 fast all weekend. Dibenedetto quit practice with 15 minutes left. Matt said the car is good and his crew chief agreed.


Cars that looked good in practice: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin


Best 15-lap average speed

  1. Erik Jones 39.83
  2. Jamie McMurray 39.94
  3. Kyle Busch 40.05
  4. Clint Bowyer 40.06
  5. Kevin Harvick 40.07
  6. Matt Kenseth 40.08
  7. Aric Almirola 40.13
  8. Denny Hamlin 40.15
  9. Brad Keselowski 40.19
  10. Jimmie Johnson 40.21

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


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