The first practice for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond was led by the Toyotas of Furniture Row Racing.
Martin Truex Jr. led the way with a speed of 124.178 mph around the .75-mile track. His teammate Erik Jones followed at 123.035 mph.
Filling out the top five was Ryan Blaney (122.772), Trevor Bayne (122.084) and defending Richmond winner Denny Hamlin (121.726).
Kasey Kahne had the best 10-lap average at 119.324 mph.
Click here for the full practice report.
With the Furniture Row Racing teams at the top of the chart, it continues the trend of the first eight races of the year of the team being generally faster than the four Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing. The two teams are part of a technical alliance, but only the smaller team based out of Denver, Colorado, has a win this year (Truex, Las Vegas Motor Speedway).
After Hamlin, Kyle Busch was eighth fastest (121.125), Daniel Suarez 18th (120.466) and Matt Kenseth 21st (120.278).
While Truex is third in points and leads the series in stage wins, none of JGR’s cars are in the top 10 in points.
“Well, I think it’s just – there’s no real reason,” Truex said Friday morning of his teams’ advantages over their Joe Gibbs Racing counterparts. “We all get the same information. I guess at the end of the day it’s how you use it, how you put it to use. I think our team, (crew chief) Cole (Pearn), (engineer) Jazzy (Jeff Curtis), (competition director) Pete (Rondeau), our guys in general are just – right now we’re just clicking. We have a lot of confidence. Things are going well.”
The disparity between the two teams comes in a season where Toyota introduced its 2018 body style in the Cup Series.
“My guys are doing an amazing job of filtering through all that information and making sure the right things are going into the car,” Truex said. “The communication between all of us at the racetrack has been a big part of that. So I mean, it’s not one thing. It’s just right now it just seems like we’re all clicking and we’re making it happen. You know, I think that the good part for those guys is that they see that.
“They see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and they know it’s possible as well. Hopefully they’ve done so much for us since we moved to Toyota last year to get us going and kind of get us up to speed that it’s fun to be there and try to help those guys and show that our team is a big part of being competitive, running well, making sure Toyotas are up front each and every week and it kind of shows that they made a good decision by bringing us in and making us part of that team.”
Furniture Row Racing is seeking its first short-track win with this weekend’s race at Richmond, a track Joe Gibbs Racing has won the last three races at.
MORE: Richmond a “pivotal” race for Joe Gibbs Racing