In the final minute of the Sprint Cup Series’ first practice at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson recorded the fastest speed of the 90-minute session.
Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet reached a high of 129.833 mph while in qualifying trim, which bested Matt Kenseth’s 128.596 mph.
The top five was rounded out by Kyle Busch (128.580), Clint Bowyer (128.099) and Carl Edwards (127.707).
The session was slowed multiple times for accidents including Jeb Burton spinning out of Turn 2 early. Another caution was caused by debris, a screwdriver and a few wrenches.
Multiple drivers wound up making contact with the wall in the session, including Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson – who lost 38 minutes of practice time – and Martin Truex Jr. Truex’ No. 78 hit the wall hard in Turn 2 and will go to a backup car.
Truex finished the practice session as 27th fastest.
Smith, Allgaier, sixth-place finisher Daniel Hemric and seventh-place finisher Sam Mayer — the top four full-time Xfinity drivers — will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Richmond Raceway.
Allmendinger won the first stage and then pitted. When a caution came out shortly, it put him 21st in the field. On the Lap 20 restart, his car suffered damage when he was hit going into Turn 1.
Allmendinger worked his way through the field and took the lead from Sheldon Creed on Lap 33 when they made contact and Creed spun. Creed fell back to 23rd and finished the 46-lap race in ninth.
Stage 1 winner: AJ Allmendinger
Stage 2 winner: Sheldon Creed
Who had a bad race: Austin Hill, who had won three of the first five races this season, had mechanical issues early and finished 37th in the 38-car field.
Next: The series races April 1 at Richmond Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1)
The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.
Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.
Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.
Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.
Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.
Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.
Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).
Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.
Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.
Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.
Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.