Kyle Busch was fastest in the first of two NASCAR Cup practice sessions Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch had a top lap of 197.438 mph around the 2.5-mile high banked superspeedway in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as teams begin preparations for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 (televised on NBC).
Brad Keselowski, who won last year’s Coke Zero 400, was second-fastest (197.230 mph). In fact, Keselowski led a phalanx of six straight Ford drivers that included Kevin Harvick (197.200), Joey Logano (197.165), Ryan Blaney (also 197.165), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (197.161) and Matt DiBenedetto (197.148).
Austin Dillon and his Chevrolet broke up the Ford onslaught with the eighth-fastest speed (197.131 mph), followed by two additional Fords: Trevor Bayne (197.109) and Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch was 10th-fastest (197.100), meaning Fords took eight of the 10 fastest spots.
Today’s second and final practice of the weekend is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
AJ Allmendinger lost the engine on his No. 47 Chevrolet on Lap 33 of Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway, not long after winning Stage 1.
Allmendinger was running in 13th when the engine blew, a result of a bad shift. It is his first DNF at Sonoma.
The JTG Daugherty Racing driver, a favorite to contend in road course races, had started the race in fifth and made it to second before drifting back.
Once the race leaders pitted with four and three laps left in the stage, Allmendinger took the lead.
Allmendinger has started in the top five in the last five Sonoma races and not finished better than 14th.
“I haven’t missed a shift on a road course in 10 years,” Allmendinger told Fox Sports 1. “Just me. I was trying to be so patient, so smooth with it. It was unexpected. It’s on me. I let everybody down here.”
Jamie McMurray also experienced a mechanical issue that caused his engine to shut off and lose oil pressure. He was pushed to the garage.
The NASCAR community paid tribute to World of Outlaws driver Jason Johnson, who died after a sprint car crash Saturday night at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway.
Johnson crashed after a restart racing for the lead. Witnesses said that Johnson’s car flipped and went through billboards outside Turn 3, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Johnson won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals. He finished sixth in the points last year in the World of Outlaws.
There has been a different winner in each of the last nine Cup races at Sonoma Raceway, site of today’s Cup race. Those nine winners have been Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
Will there be a 10th different winner at the road course?
Here is all the information for today’s race.
(All times are Eastern)
START: Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley will give the command to start engines at 3:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:13 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 110 laps (218.9 miles) around the 1.99-mile road course.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Broadway Under The Stars in Sonoma Valley, Transcendence’s Meggie Cansler will perform the anthem at 2:55 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 80 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.
LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick led the final 22 laps to win last year’s race. Clint Bowyer placed second. Brad Keselowski finished third.
STARTING LINEUP: Click here for full qualification results.
Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.
Martin Truex Jr. He probably had the best car at Sonoma last year; his team closes the deal this season.
Kevin Harvick. No one can stop him on an oval or a road course.
William Byron pulls off a shocking win in his first Cup race at Sonoma.
Jamie McMurray seesaws through the field, but gets track position in the closing laps.