Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch Top Friday’s Practice Sessions At Indianapolis Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas July 22, 2016 0 comments
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jimmie Johnson clocked the fastest lap in opening practice, while defending race winner, Kyle Busch topped the speed chart in final practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon.
In opening practice, Jimmie Johnson topped the speed chart with a lap of 48.864 seconds at 184.185 mph. Johnson is a four-time of the prestigious Brickyard 400; however his last win came in 2012. Over the past two years, Johnson has struggled to finish inside the top-20. In 2014, Johnson finished 14th, and last year, he crossed the finish line in 15th. On Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Johnson talked about how much a fifth win would be as well as how much he enjoys the new aero package.
“This is such a cool race track,” Johnson said. “I dreamed of racing here as a kid, but my dreams then, the cars didn’t have fenders on them. So, to come back and still have a chance to race here, and still have an opportunity to win four of these things, hopefully a few more chances to pull into Victory Lane and celebrate. Then even head out to kiss the bricks would be really cool. I guess from a race standpoint, I’m glad that we are here with this package and not the package we had last year. Very difficult to complete passes and kind of get around the race track. It was a much different experience last year, and I was a part of the test last week. It was nice to have the cars drive like they did from the ’14 season.”
Second on the speed chart during the opening round was Denny Hamlin, followed by Casey Mears. Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, who is subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr., who had sucj a dominate car last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I certainly woke up feeling good when I saw Dale Jr.s’ Tweet that he’s seen progress.” Gordon said. “I texted him right away as soon as I saw that. So, that is great news. Great way to start the day. I’m certainly a little overwhelmed over everything that has happened over the last week. But, most of all, I’m proud to be here and help his team out. This is his team. What we want most is to have him healthy and strong for the long term. Today is a great sign of things to come for him. For me, my goal is to come here and give this team the best effort that I can, and give them the best result…hopefully a good one.”
There was only one accident throughout the session. Kyle Busch, who finished out the session in 12th got together with Patrick Carpentier, who was 39th on the speed chart. As the two drivers entered Turn 2, Carpentier accidentally pinched Busch to the bottom of the track. The two made contact, and Busch went spinning out the exit of the turn. Busch sustained a little right side damage.
“Kyle was a little bit further back down the straightaway and I was like, ‘Do I lift to let him by,’” Carpentier said. “He was still quite far away, but he closed in pretty quickly. I didn’t think he was gonna go in there, but it was my bad. I should have let him go in between both corners, but that’s why I went and apologized to him.”
Kyle Busch paced final practice with a lap of 48.749 seconds at 184.619 mph. Busch is the defending winner of the Brickyard 400. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry enters the weekend sixth in the championship standings with three wins, 10 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.
“I get a good chance to come out here and hopefully have an opportunity to defend our Brickyard 400 victory of last year and look forward to being able to do that again in the Skittles colors and hopefully take Toyota to victory lane here for the second time,” Busch said. “But you know, overall we’ve had a good season. We’ve had good speed in our race cars. Joe Gibbs Racing has been really fast, so there’s a good opportunity for any of our teammates to win. It’s just a matter of being able to put all the pieces together for our car and make sure the 18 is as fast as we can make it.”
Kevin Harvick improved in the second session, jumping up from fourth in the opening round to second in final practice. Kyle Larson, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday night, was third fastest. Ryan Newman was fourth fastest, and Carl Edwards was fifth fastest.Austin Dillon was sixth, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Danica Prick and AJ Allmendinger.
Denny Hamlin had the best 10 consecutive lap average with a speed of 177.938 mph. Kyle Busch was second with an average speed of 177.7-9 mph. Chase Elliott rounded out the top-three with an average speed of 177.016 mph.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 1:45 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images