Clint Bowyer posts fastest lap in final Cup practice at Atlanta

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

HAMPTON, Ga. – Clint Bowyer recorded the fastest lap in Saturday’s final Cup practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bowyer’s top speed was 179.104 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (178.873 mph), Austin Dillon (178.712), Michael McDowell (178.672) and Corey LaJoie (178.436).

Click here for final practice results

“I feel like we learned quite a bit,” Bowyer said. “You have to check the boxes off. I was talking about the balance of this thing and the ability to work on balance with the drag vs. downforce. You know it is going to be different at this racetrack than it will be at Vegas or any other racetrack. You are going to have that adjustability built into the car and the understanding of where you are at and where you need to be.

“There will be teams (Sunday) that drastically miss this, and ones that hit it. The ones that hit it are going to have a lot of fun. The ones that don’t are going to be miserable. There isn’t a whole lot you can do in the race to change that.”

Busch went to a backup car after he hit the wall less than 10 minutes into the session. He did not return to the track after the incident. Busch had the best average over 10 consecutive laps (177.302 mph) before he hit the wall. Kyle Larson was next at 176.534 mph over 10 consecutive laps.

“The corner speeds are higher so when you do have an issue, the issue happened really fast, happened faster than it typically would because of the corner speeds are higher,” Busch said. “The crash was harder to save. In the past, I feel I would have been able to do a better job (of saving the car).”

Austin Cindric filled in for Brad Keselowski, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Cindric drove the car 13 laps. Keselowski got in the car late in the session and ran 23 laps.

Kevin Harvick ran the most laps at 75. He was 21st on the speed chart with a top lap of 176.932 mph.

Erik Jones suffered a power steering problem during the session. Bowyer said that Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Daniel Suarez also had power steering problems a day after Harvick did.

“It is very weird,” Bowyer said of the steering problems this weekend. “(Suarez) had one, too. It is something that is a gremlin that people are fighting, yeah.

“You get out there on this long race, and I guarantee you that you are going to be sawing on the wheel (Sunday) if you are up front and asking a lot of that steering component. Hopefully, it will be fine. I know there were more cars than just (Harvick) that had issues, so it is a concern across the board, but I don’t think there is anyone better than our group at figuring things out.”