NASCAR Cup rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the first of two practice sessions Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Jones drove his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to the top of the speed charts at the Fontana, California track with a best lap of 187.251, the only driver to exceed 187 mph.
Jones was followed by Chase Elliott (186.843), Ryan Newman (186.732), Jimmie Johnson (186.384) and Brad Keselowski (186.292).
There were two incidents of note during the session:
* With just over nine minutes remaining in the practice session, Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hit hard into the outside retaining wall, sustaining damage on the right side.
However, the team chose to repair the damage rather than go to a backup car.
Prior to the incident, Harvick’s car was sixth-fastest (186.128 mph).
* In the final two minutes, David Ragan spun and impacted the Turn 3 wall. It appeared something came loose from under Ragan’s car before impact.
Given the amount of damage, Ragan will likely have to go to a backup car.
Click here for how Saturday’s first of two practice sessions played out:
With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.
Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.
Click here for the starting grid.
Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in practice Friday at Auto Club Speedway at 189.071 mph. He was followed by Denny Hamlin (188.462 mph), Kevin Harvick (188.344), Jamie McMurray (187.940) and Joey Logano (187.588).
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson had to go to a backup car after losing control in Turn 4 and sliding into the infield grass. The front of his car dug into the ground and was damaged. That was the only incident in the session involving cars. The session was stopped briefly for an owl on the track.
Cup teams will qualify at 7:05 p.m. ET (4:05 p.m. Pacific)
Click here for results of Cup practice
NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.
Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.
Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.
The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.
The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.
Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday morning it will appeal penalties issued to Kevin Harvick and his team for the L1 infraction discovered after last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR docked Harvick and the team 10 points each, suspended crew chief Rodney Childers one race and fined him $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly. NASCAR also ruled Harvick’s sixth-place result was an encumbered finish.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s statement read: “Stewart-Haas Racing has officially requested an appeal hearing regarding the penalties levied against the No. 4 team and have also requested a deferral of the penalties until the appeal process is complete.”
NASCAR has granted SHR’s appeal to defer Childers’ suspension, allowing the crew chief to be with the team this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
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