The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the final time at Pocono Raceway Friday. This is the first chance for teams to get their cars dialed in for the Pocono 400. This race comes down to horsepower. Teams will try to get maximum speed in this practice to make passes on the long stretches.
Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the first practice at Pocono…
The weather was perfect today for practice. It was mostly sunny and 68 degrees. The weather for the race Sunday is scheduled to be sunny and 84 degrees. The track will be a lot hotter and a lot slicker than it was today.
If you want to stump your friends this week, Pocono is a “Scalene Triangle” because all 3 corners are different (and that drives crew chiefs nuts this week.)
Teams have four sets of tires for all practices and qualifying. Most teams only used one set in this practice.
Most teams ran a few race runs and then concentrated on their qualifying setup. Qualifying is Friday at 4pm ET.
Chase Elliott: Half-way through practice Chase asks the team, “The car feels pretty solid everywhere but turn 3. Do the flames make it look any faster?” The No. 24 car has a pretty sweet paint scheme this week. The team made some major adjustments with the shocks and sent Chase back out for a race trim run. He moved to 13th fastest on the speed chart. The team then put the qualifying setup in the car.
Jimmie Johnson: The No. 48 team was one of the only teams to start the practice in qualifying trim. Chad Knaus said the No. 48 team wants to work on qualifying better so they can earn more Stage points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has finished 6 of last 7 races at Pocono in the top 10. He said on Garage Cam before the practice, “This is the most confident I have been entering a race all season.” After his first run Junior said, “Damn it, I overdrove the first corner so do not look at these times. We are much faster.” Junior coasted into the garage half-way through practice. He said, “I went to shift into 3rd gear and it went into 2nd gear.” Earnhardt blew an engine. Junior will start in the rear Sunday. The No. 88 team will qualify today because they still get to pick their pit stall based upon where they qualify (win the pole he gets the #1 pick).
Kasey Kahne: Kasey liked the balance of the car. He said, “It turns well in 1 and 2, but a little tight in 3.” He was 16th fastest at the time. The No. 5 team liked their car so they switched over to qualifying trim.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin waited 10 minutes for some rubber to be laid down before he took the No. 4 car on the track. This is what they do each week. Harvick was 3rd-fastest after his first run. Kevin told the team an hour into practice, “Every time I bring it in the adjustments make the car better. We are going in the right direction.” The No. 4 team worked primarily on race trim and he has almost as fast as the cars in qualifying trim.
Clint Bowyer: The No. 14 car went out in race trim and Clint said, “It has great balance but I am not sure if it is fast.” He was 10th fastest at the time. Clint made a 12 lap run and said the car felt good.
Kurt Busch: Kurt said, “It is too bouncy” after his first run. The team thought they had the air pressure too low. Kurt said he told Bubba Wallace to follow him on the track so Kurt could show him how to get around the track. Kurt said, “Now the 43 is faster than me.” The No. 41 car was too loose.
Kyle Larson: Kyle just being Kyle again this week… The No. 42 car was nearly perfect on the track. Kyle was 2nd fastest after his qualifying run. The team made an adjustment and Larson went to the top of the speed chart. Kyle went over to talk to Jamie McMurray about his car with 30 minutes left in practice.
Jamie McMurray: Jamie said the car was too tight after his first run. They brought him in for repairs and sent him back out. Jamie said, “It is a little tighter. Give me more of that.” Jamie said he worked on making laps by shifting and some laps by not shifting. He said he needs to know both ways to drive the car in case he needs to save fuel Sunday.
Brad Keselowski: Brad waited 10 minutes to make his first laps. He went to the top of the speed chart.
Joey Logano: Joey said before practice that “I’m ready to put our struggles behind us.” He started practice with 3 race trim runs and then switched to qualifying trim. The No. 22 car was a little loose in race trim but nearly perfect in qualifying trim. Logano went to the top of the speed chart at the end of practice.
Ryan Blaney: After breaking an axel two weeks in a row, the team is using a larger axel this week. They also worked on getting out of the pits.
Kyle Busch: The No. 18 team worked only on their qualifying setup in this practice. They said they want the No. 18 car to start up front and then they will dial it in tomorrow. He had the fastest car on the track after his first qualifying lap.
Matt Kenseth: Matt was one of the first cars on the track and he went to the top of the speed chart in the first 10 minutes of practice.
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin made 13 race trim laps and he said, “I need more stability in the corners.” The car drove different on each lap. The 4 time Pocono winner was 9th fastest at the time. Denny told Kim Coon from MRN, “This is as good as we have unloaded at Pocono in a long time. I really want to get back to Victory Lane this week.”
Daniel Suarez: The No. 19 team tells Daniel at the beginning of practice, “OK, get out there and make some solid laps.” After a long run Daniel said the car was way too tight on entry of all 3 corners.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin made two laps early in practice and then brought the car in for repairs. The No. 78 car was way too tight. After his second run the power steering went out in the car. They had to change the power steering pump. They sat out 1 hour of practice while they worked on the car. They went out for a qualifying run and Martin said, “We still have a problem.”
Erik Jones: The No. 77 team started practice with the same setup as Martin Truex Jr. Jones was sent out to make some race trim runs.
Austin Dillon: Austin reports the car is, “too loose.” Austin said the car was better in race trim than it was in qualifying trim.
Ryan Newman: Ryan tells the team, “We are pretty close. It is a little loose in 3 but good in 1 and 2.” Newman really likes his car. He told the Fox Reporter, “The balance is about as close as we can get it.” He was 8th fastest at the time.
Paul Menard: Menard said his car was a little tight. The No. 27 car was in qualifying trim for this practice.
Ty Dillon: Ty said, “It is a little free all around the track.” Bootie brought him in for some adjustments. After his second race trim run Ty said, “Still way too loose.”
AJ Allmendinger: AJ said, “It is way too tight in the center of the corners.” They told him to adjust his trackbar.
Chris Buescher: Chris said, “It starts off loose and gets tighter the deeper we get into a run.” They brought the No. 37 car in for some adjustments. After his third race trim run Chris was still a little tight in the center of the corner. The team put the qualifying setup in the car at the end of practice.
Trevor Bayne: Trevor was having the same problem as his teammate (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) with the brakes. The team asked Trevor to dial a little more back brake into the car and a little less front brake.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky said there was a bad vibration in the brake pedal when he enters the corner. At the end of practice Ricky said, “The vibration has not went away.”
Darrell Wallace Jr.: “Bubba” will be driving the No. 43 car this week for Richard Petty Motorsports. The team just wants him to make a lot of laps in practice to get used to the car. Bubba tells the team, “It’s comfortable” after his first run.
Landon Cassill: Something fell off the Landon’s car early in practice and it brought out the caution flag. The team was searching to figure out what it was. The team never did find the missing parts.
David Ragan: David said the car, “Pivots well in the corners.” He was only 30th fastest in practice.
Michael McDowell: Michael went out for his first run and his radio did not work. He brought the No. 95 car in to have it fixed. They fixed the radio and the car was a little loose. The team changed the back shocks on the car to get Michael to turn better.
Cars that looked good in practice: Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.
Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Pocono Practice Speeds
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