The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars practiced for the first time at Richmond Friday. It looks like it is going to be good weather all weekend so all practices and qualifying should run as scheduled.
Here are the Garage Talk Notes for the first practice at Richmond…
Austin Dillon: The No. 3 car had to serve a 30 minute penalty before the team was allowed to practice. Dillon will also lose his pit selection and will start at the rear of the field Sunday because the car failed post-race laser inspection last week. Also Slugger Labbe was replaced by Sammy Johns as Crew Chief of the No. 3 car for the race Sunday.
Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth also served a 30 minute penalty.
Ty Dillon and AJ Allmendinger served a 15 minute penalty to start practice. Both teams will lose their pit selections for Sunday’s race for failing laser inspection three times.
Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chris Buesher all served 15 minute penalties to start practice.
Chase Elliott: He ran the most laps in practice. The No. 24 team just wanted to get Elliott comfortable in the car. Elliott was 16th fastest at the time. He made a 15 lap run and said, “I think that is it. We can switch to qualifying trim now.”
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie was working on his rhythm and working the brakes in the corner. The team was not concerned with their one lap speed. Chad Knaus wanted the car fast on the long runs because he does not think there will be many cautions Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior made a 3 lap run and he was slow. He told the team, “It is a long damn practice. I am not in any hurry. I am just checking shit out.” On his 2nd run Junior said, “I do not know if it needs work in the center or out of the corner but it is too tight.” He made another long run and almost hit the wall. Junior said, “I think we should change the springs after practice.”
Kasey Kahne: The No. 5 car made a 10 lap run and Kahne felt pretty good about his car. He made three long runs and then switched to qualifying trim. He said, “I’m very excited about the race Sunday. This is my best track.” Kahne had the fastest car on the long runs.
Kevin Harvick: The No. 4 team waited 10 minutes for rubber to be laid down before they made their first laps on the track. Harvick said, “It is pretty good. I need more drive off of the corners.” Jamie McMurray’s crew chief said, “Kevin Harvick runs the bottom better than anyone. We need to get our car as fast as that No. 4 car.”
Clint Bowyer: He said the balance felt good. Bowyer wanted to know about the drop off in his lap times. His crew chief (I can’t spell his name) said, “They are competitive. We will work on it.” After another long run Bowyer said, “Turn 3 is horrible. I do not know what is going on there.”
Kurt Busch: Kurt said the car gets more lose after every lap. He brought it in to be tightened up. Busch went back out and said, “We are heading in the right direction. Give me some more of that.”
Danica Patrick: She made a 12 lap run and said, “Finally we have a car I can work with. I do not need much but maybe freeing it up a little will help.” She was 10th fastest at the time. Patrick went out and made another 12 lap run. They switched to qualifying trim after 2 long runs.
Kyle Larson: He worked on his pit road speed. Larson does not want another speeding ticket like last week. He made some long runs and said the car felt pretty good. They were going to make some adjustments and make some more long runs before putting the qualifying trim in the car.
Jamie McMurray: The No. 1 car was the only car to start practice in qualifying trim. McMurray worked on qualifying while his teammate (Kyle Larson) worked on long runs. McMurray said his car was too tight.
Brad Keselowski: Brad said his car is not bad. He said, “It is consistent so we have something to work with.”
Joey Logano: After serving his penalty Logano made a two lap run. He said the car was a little tight but not bad. He also told Todd Gordon, “Tires are going to crucial this weekend. I am blowing by cars and these new tires.”
Ryan Blaney: Once again Blaney had very fast single lap speed. He was 3rd fastest on the speed chart. The team was working on more speed out of the corners.
Kyle Busch: He wasn’t happy with the car. He said it was too tight. They brought him in for adjustments. Kyle was 7th-fastest at the time. The team made adjustments and Kyle said it turns much better.
Matt Kenseth: Another quiet practice for Kenseth. He was 20th-fastest which is about his average in most practices. Kenseth was working on his long run speed.
Denny Hamlin: Temperature gage inside Hamlin’s car read 103 degrees. Hot!!! Hamlin said it is chattering the brakes entering the corners. It is also too tight. The team made some adjustments and Hamlin said, “That was a heck of a lot better.”
Daniel Suarez: The 19 team plan to make long runs to get Suarez comfortable in the car. They plan to make qualifying runs at the end of practice. Suarez was 8th-fastest after 12 lap run.
Martin Truex Jr.: The 78 car was the first out for practice and went straight to the top of the speed chart. Truex made a long run and said, “We are close to what we had here before.” Truex led 193 laps in the last race at Richmond so that is a good sign for the No. 78 team.
Erik Jones: The 77 car followed Truex onto the track and laid down the second-fastest lap early in practice. Jones spun out 15 minutes into practice and kissed the wall (slightly). He said the car was way too loose.
Austin Dillon: Car was way too tight. Austin said, “It is going to be a problem if we cannot run the bottom of the track.”
Ryan Newman: After a 3 lap run Newman said it is way too tight! He brought it in for repairs. “Definitely a lot better!” Newman tells the team.
Paul Menard: He made a 5 lap run and said the car felt pretty good. Menard thinks they need to work on the entry into the corner. The No. 27 car was 5th-fastest at the time. Menard told his team. “I like the way it drives in traffic.” Matt Borland told Menard, “Your lap times are the best we have seen all season.”
Ty Dillon: Bootie Barker told Ty, “Work on that brake pedal. Find your rhythm and then we will work for there.” Ty made a long run and thinks the car is pretty good. They just need more forward bite out of the corner.
AJ Allmendinger: AJ said, “I have no grip on either end.” That seems to be a popular complaint this week. After another long run AJ said it is getting better.
Chris Buescher: He said his car is very good in turns 1 and 2 but horrible in turns 3 and 4.
Trevor Bayne: He was happy with the way the car unloaded. Bayne said, “We have something to work with this week.” They were 4th-fastest at the time.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: The car was too tight. He brought the car in to have it set up similar to the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) car.
Aric Almirola: He said the car was too tight in the center of the corner. They brought it in for repairs. He said this is a big race for the team since his sponsor (Smithfield) is right up the road. His car was decent.
Landon Cassill: After a short run he said. “The balance feels pretty good. I just need to be able to turn it a little better.”
David Ragan: He reported his car was too tight.
Michael McDowell: The No. 95 car made an 11 lap run to shake down the car and get a tire test. McDowell said it was loose but workable. The team really liked their car. McDowell was 13th-fastest in practice.
Cars that looked good in practice: Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne
Jeff Gordon said at the end of practice that Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin look like they have the cars to beat.
Here are the speeds for the final practice session: Richmond Practice Speeds
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