The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the first time at Dover International Speedway Friday. Most of the teams worked on race setup early in practice and switched to their qualifying setup at the end of practice.
Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the first practice at Dover…
The weather was perfect for the morning practice. It was bright sunshine and about 76 degrees. The air temps for the race Sunday will be about the same but mostly cloudy. The concrete track surface at Dover is not as sensitive to heat as it is for the asphalt tracks.
The Xfinity Series had an hour long practice before the MENCS practice so there was rubber on the track when the cars began practice.
8 NASCAR Cup teams were penalized 15 practice minutes due to inspection issues at Charlotte: Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick, Ty Dillon, Regan Smith, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The teams only have four sets of tires for practice and qualifying, so most teams were on the same set of tires for the entire practice.
Chase Elliott: Before practice started Chase said, “I am about damn sick of this bad luck. It is time to get back to the way we are capable of running. I want to win this race!” The team worked on race setup in practice. Jimmie Johnson came over to talk to Chase after he went on top the hauler to watch the No. 24 car. This advice can only help the No. 24 team Sunday. When the reporter from MRN asked Chase about the car, his reply was, “frustrating!”
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie started practice in qualifying trim and he was third-fastest after his first run.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior ran the high line while working on his race setup. He scraped the wall and had slight damage. He was 13th-fastest at the time. Earnhardt said he worked a lot in the race simulator this week and really learned a lot. He thinks his car will be pretty good this week.
Kasey Kahne: After his first race setup run Kahne said, “It is just too tight. I need to be loosened up.” Kahne made another run and he said it was still too loose. The No. 5 car was a lot better in qualifying trim than they were in race trim.
Kevin Harvick: As usual, the No. 4 team waited 10 minutes for more rubber to be laid down before they made their first laps. He was fourth-fastest after his first run. The team put another setup in the car and Harvick thought it was even better. The team was happy with the No. 4 car.
Clint Bowyer: Clint worked on pit road speed and getting in and out of his pits before they put the qualifying setup in the car. He had penalties in the pits in both races at Dover last year while driving for HScott Motorsports. He said the car was shaking in the rear. Clint went to the top of the hauler to watch the No. 4 car. When Harvick brought his car into the garage Clint went over to talk with him. The No. 14 team will try a setup closer to what Harvick has.
Kurt Busch: Kurt said the car was a little loose but drivable. He was third-fastest at the time. Busch really, really, really like the car. He said, “I don’t know what to tell ya Gibby… It feels near perfect to me.” Busch won this race last year.
Danica Patrick: Her car was too loose. She was 30th fastest.
Kyle Larson: Kyle went out and made some race runs and he said the car was loose (but he likes it that way). They put the qualifying setup in the car and Larson was 3rd-fastest.Larson said he would like to see the track add some VHT (sticky stuff) at the top of the track. Of course he does!!
Jamie McMurray: The No. 1 team was working on race runs for most of practice. He was 18th fastest at the time. McMurray thought the car need a little more speed on the exit of turns 2 and 4.
Brad Keselowski: Brad said the team was working on checking the heights of the car in this practice. It is very important that the car does not hit the splitter coming out of the turns.
Joey Logano: Joey said, “The bumps are killing our car. I can barely drive it.” They brought him in and made a shock adjustment.
Ryan Blaney: Ryan was one of the first cars on track and he turned the fastest lap. He was No. 1 for the first 10 minutes of practice.
Kyle Busch: Kyle went out and made a 2 lap run and said, “Winless….not anymore!! It’s bad fast.” Busch was fastest in practice at the time.
Matt Kenseth: Matt proves that this is one of his best tracks. He went to the top of the leaderboard after his first run in practice.
Denny Hamlin: Denny ran 21 laps in race trim. His car would not turn in the corners. He thought the front tires were not on the track.
Daniel Suarez: Daniel was working on race setup. The team thought it was more important that he gain experience on the track. They sent him out to follow the No. 78 car. He was 11th-fastest at the time.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin made qualifying laps in practice. He said, “The car is as good if not better than last year.” He started 2nd, led 187 laps on his way to Victory Lane in that race. Scary that he thinks he is as good. Truex told the Matt Yocum from Fox, “The cars it rough to drive but it is fast. If it is easy to drive than you cannot make fast laps.”
Erik Jones: Erik was one of the last cars to make a lap in practice. He had to serve a penalty and was talking to his Xfinity Series team. Jones was working on qualifying setup in practice. He was 12th-fastest after his first run. Erik went to talk to Truex after his qualifying run. He went back out and went to 8th-fastest on the leaderboard.
Austin Dillon: The No. 3 car was too loose. They brought Austin in for adjustments and he said, “We are headed in the right direction. He was 14th-fastest at the time.
Ryan Newman: Ryan liked his car after the first run. He said, “We need a little work on the exit of 3 and 4” but he was second-fastest at the time.
Paul Menard: Paul was too loose in practice. He said, “The car is losing grip with every lap.”
Ty Dillon: Ty said, “Woooo way too loose!!” The team told him to drop the track bar and then Dillon said, “That is a little better, but still a handful.” The team was checking the splitter an hour into practice. They think it may have been bent from hitting the track.
AJ Allmendinger: AJ was tight entering the corner and loose all the way around the track. This is usually a good track for him since it races like a road course. AJ had a tire loose an hour into practice. After an adjustment AJ said, “Give me the G-rated version of that next time please.” I think they overdid the adjustments.
Chris Buescher: Chris said, “It drivers well. I am not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing here.” He was 22nd fastest at the time.
Trevor Bayne: Trevor said, “It is on the edge. I’m having a hard time holding onto it.” He was 23rd fastest after he ran race setup runs. The team went to qualifying trim and Bayne said, “We just had a moment!” The No. 6 car almost spun out.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: After his first run Stenhouse said, “It is not even close. I cannot even steer it!” They brought the No. 17 car in the make wholesale adjustments. The new setup felt a lot better for Stenhouse. He was 4th-fastest at the time.
Regan Smith: Regan is back in the No. 43 car this week. He has had some success at this track and he makes a good pick in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game to save an allocation with the top drivers. The team like the car just needed work on turn 3. The team made some adjustments and Regan said, “We are heading in the right direction.”
Landon Cassill: The No. 34 car was too tight. Landon came over to talk with David Ragan an hour into practice. The team was making some big changes in the car.
David Ragan: David thought the balance of the car felt pretty good. He was 25th fastest at the time.
Michael McDowell: “To Tight” McDowell tells the team after their first run. They brought him in for adjustments.
Cars that looked good in practice: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson
Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Dover Practice Speeds
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