Truex, Busch Lead Treacherous Friday Practice Sessions at Kansas Speedway

Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Practice was anything but uneventful for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers on Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400. Several drivers experienced very loose or slick conditions, and found themselves sideways, spun out, or in the wall.

Points leader Kyle Larson will have to go to a back-up car following contact with the outside wall in final practice. Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray also made slight contact with the wall and spun, though the damage sustained wasn’t enough to need to go to a back-up.

“It was a little bit more eventful than I wish it would have been in practice,” said McMurray. “This racetrack is interesting and it’s been this way the last couple years. The gray area of the track has a lot of grip until you get that last car length from the wall. It’s really dirty up there. It kind of gives you a false sense of security and I think it happened to Kyle. I haven’t talked to Kyle yet but I was just kind of moving up the racetrack. I was gonna make a long run right there and I got a little bit too high, got loose, and ended up getting into the wall. It didn’t tear our car up but it did kill about 20 minutes of practice for us that we needed for race trim, so we switched over to qualifying trim and the car was pretty good in qualifying trim. Both of our cars are fast again this weekend and I feel good about going into qualifying and I think we’ll be fine in the race.”

During the first practice session, both Erik Jones and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also spun out, though neither had to go to a back-up car.

“It was real close,” Earnhardt said, describing the incident. “That would have been a back-up (car) for sure. You know, I looked up there and against the fence it looks like the (NASCAR Camping World) Trucks have been up there and there is some rubber down, so I thought it was pretty clean, but we went up there and it was a little dusty for whatever reason. That is where we are going to race. That seems like, you know, this track has greyed up quite a bit, good age on the surface and it will continue to get even more fun and wider. It’s pretty wide as it is, so I wanted to try to get up there as soon as I could and see how our car drove, so we didn’t find out anything in the race that we didn’t already know. We will get to practice a little bit more and see how that goes. Right now, we are kind of running in the middle of the track and that will change a little bit.  That won’t really be what we are doing in the race.  In the race, I think, we will be up at the top or at the bottom.”

Another driver who experienced trouble during practice was Michael McDowell, as the team was forced to change engines after smoke started billowing from the back of his No. 95 car.

“I’m not really sure {what happened}, something broke, something big,” said McDowell. “It was just a little vibration and then the motor blew right there. I’m not sure what happened if a belt came off or something like that, but we have a really good TWD Chevy, it was really fast there on that long run. We didn’t make it out that first part of practice and we weren’t able to put up a big lap, but this car is really good. So, we will swap the motor out, we will be fine.”

Toyota drivers showed some speed in both practice sessions with Martin Truex Jr. pacing the first session and Kyle Busch leading final practice.

Ryan Blaney, Jones, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five in first practice while Larson, Truex, Blaney, and Brad Keselowski completed the top five in final practice.

Qualifying for the Cup Series begins at 5:45PM CT later this afternoon and will be the final on-track activity before the race tomorrow night. The Go Bowling 400 is 6:30PM CT on Saturday night.

Full Practice 1 Results 

Full Practice 2 Results

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