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Cup title contenders share thoughts after final practice in Miami

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Cup teams have taken part in their final practice session for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

The next time they will be on track, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will determine the 2017 champion.

Here’s what each championship driver had to say after the last practice.

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 78 Toyota

How did the car feel in final practice?
“I thought we were pretty close. Need to get the balance a little better, but I think we definitely have enough speed to do what we need to do. Just have to get the balance right. Conditions, trying to plan on finishing this race at night is part of what we’re trying to figure out. I think we changed enough and made enough adjustments today and we learned a lot. That gives us a lot to look at tonight and make the right decisions based off of that.”

What benefit is the additional set of tires for the race?
“Just makes it easier to call the race. With the stages, it adds two cautions to the race that we’re not normally used to and we used a lot of tires last year. I think that’s what everybody was kind of nervous about was not having enough tires. This isn’t the kind of place, especially racing for a championship, that at some point in the race you want to have to stay out and save tires for later or we’re going to be screwed. It’s a really tough decision because you can get lapped here in no time on old tires. Just helps ease the tension a little bit and it just depends on how all the cautions fall.”

What is your mind set for tomorrow?
“I feel really good. We’ve been in this position before – I’ve raced for a championship here twice now. Came out on top of one and not the other – I’m 50-50 and those are pretty good odds with four of us I’d say. I feel good, we’ve got good speed and I just need to make sure we get the balance right for tomorrow and you never know how these things are going to play out. We’ll just try to do our normal deal and make smart decisions and be around at the end of this thing and have a shot at it.”

What does the team work mean when you had members of the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) team helping repair your car in first practice?

“The teamwork has been amazing all year-long and that’s what’s got us to this point – both of us really. Our teams working together so well and if you look at the speed charts, a lot of times all of our cars are right there together and that shows the teamwork and the commitment to everybody being on the same page and working together and using the same information. You see a lot of teams out here that have cars all over the map on speed – one that’s real fast, one that’s real slow and some smattered in between. We’re never like that – we’re all really fast or we’re all really slow. Sometimes it’s tough when you’re off, but when your stuff is working good, it’s the way to go. It’s working good for us right now and I’m pretty sure we’ll be racing the 18 all night tomorrow.”

Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toytoa

How did your Camry feel in race setup today?

“It feels okay. Certainly you always want to be faster than you are but the feel of our Camry feels pretty good so hopefully that bodes well in the race. Being able to run good, clean consistent laps and will allow us to keep ourselves upfront most of the day and be able to race them.”

What is your mindset going into tomorrow’s season-finale race?

“Everything looks a lot similar to 2015 right now. We qualified third in 2015 and we won the owner’s and driver’s championship with Erik Jones in the Truck Series on Friday night (in 2015). We weren’t the best car in practice that year either and we were able to out race them in the end. I’m looking for a complete 100 percent repeat and if we can do all of that then we’ll be the ones celebrating again Sunday night.”

Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford

“Everything is fine right now. We kept the car clean and I feel like we have speed and the car hangs on really good. Everything is good so far.”

Brad Keselowski – N0. 2 Ford

How do you feel you’re positioned for tomorrow?  “I’m not entirely sure (laughing).  We seem to be a little better than we were here at the test, which is good.  We learned some things there that I was happy about.  We still probably need a solid tenth or two to run with the 18 (Busch) and the 4 (Harvick).  The 78 (Truex) looks really good on the short run, but this has a race of attrition look to it, so we’re gonna have to be smart about it.”

What is the biggest challenge you face tomorrow?  “Holding on to the car.  It’s very, very loose.  Running the whole race without hitting the wall is gonna be a big challenge.”

Martin Truex Jr. fastest in final Cup practice in Miami

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Martin Truex Jr. topped the final Cup Series practice for Sunday’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Truex finished the session with a best speed of 171.195 mph.

He bested Clint Bowyer (169.790), Denny Hamlin (169.774), Erik Jones (169.721) and Ryan Blaney (169.550).

Kyle Busch, another of the four championship drivers, was sixth fastest at 169.492 mph.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh fastest at 169.364 mph.

Championship driver Brad Keselowski was 11th fastest at 168.824 mph.

After serving a 15-minute penalty to start the session, championship driver Kevin Harvick was 18th fastest at 166.795 mph.

Busch recorded the most laps in the session among the title contenders with 54 circuits of the 1.5-mile track.

All four championship drivers were in the top six of 10-lap averages.

1st – Kyle Busch, 164.681 mph

2nd – Martin Truex Jr, 164.460 mph

4th – Kevin Harvick, 163.652 mph

6th – Brad Keselowski, 163.513 mph

Click here for the full practice report.

Kevin Harvick fastest in final Cup practice in Phoenix

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Kevin Harvick was fastest in the final Cup Series practice at Phoenix Raceway Saturday.

The eight-time winner at Phoenix was fastest in both of Saturday’s practice sessions.

Harvick topped the speed chart at 134.973 mph.

He was followed by Kyle Busch (134.333), Kasey Kahne (143.328), Martin Truex Jr. (134.313) and Clint Bowyer (134.263).

Harvick, Busch and Truex are among the eight remaining playoff drivers.

Here’s where the remaining playoff drivers placed on the chart:

6th – Jimmie Johnson (134.208)

8th – Denny Hamlin (134.093)

9th – Brad Keselowski (133.879)

10th – Ryan Blaney (133.814)

17th – Chase Elliott (133.333)

Johnson had the best 10-lap average at 133.549 mph. He was followed by Busch (133.548), Hamlin (133.344) and Truex (133.322).

Click here for the practice results.

Joey Logano fastest in final practice at Martinsville Speedway

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MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Joey Logano jumped to the top of the speed chart during the closing minute of final practice Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

The Team Penske driver turned a 94.416-mph lap in his No. 22 Ford, besting Chase Elliott (94.326), Martin Truex Jr. (94.289), Clint Bowyer (93.901) and Kasey Kahne (93.896).

Logano, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs, has three pole positions at Martinsville.

Other playoff drivers in the second of two sessions on the 0.526-mile oval: Brad Keselowski (seventh, 93.719), Kyle Busch (eighth, 93.664), Jimmie Johnson (13th, 93.451), Denny Hamlin (16th, 93.120), Ryan Blaney (22nd, 92.947) and Kevin Harvick (25th, 92.883).

Just as he did in the first practice, Kyle Busch led the 10-lap average speed, followed by Truex, Johnson and Keselowski.

Qualifying for the First Data 500 will be at noon ET Sunday, followed by NASCAR America, Countdown to Green and the green flag at 3:13 p.m. All coverage is on NBCSN.

Click here for speeds from the final practice session at Martinsville.

 

 

Ryan Blaney fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

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Ryan Blaney was fastest in the final NASCAR Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway.

Blaney, who will start last Sunday after failing post-qualifying inspection, posted a top speed of 182.057 mph.

He was followed by Kyle Busch (181.143), Kevin Harvick (181.720), Danial Suarez (181.665) and Matt Kenseth (181.543).

Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. was 12th fastest.

Harvick posted the best 10-lap average at 180.120 mph.

Jimmie Johnson, who was 15th fastest, recorded the most laps with 53.

There were no accidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.