Kurt Busch was fastest in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practice sessions at Talladega Superspeedway.
The driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet recorded the top speed of 202.671 mph in the first use of tapered spacers in competition at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. NASCAR had previously used restrictor plates at both Talladega and Daytona International Speedway since 1988.
Of note, the top speed in Cup practice at Talladega last fall was 204.227 mph, with 24 cars topping 200 mph in the lone session. Friday, 21 drivers topped 200 mph.
Ford driver David Ragan, who won this race at Talladega in 2013, was second-fastest Friday at 202.654 mph, followed by Erik Jones’ Toyota (also at 202.654 mph), Michael McDowell’s Ford (202.641 mph) and Chase Elliott’s Chevy (202.624 mph).
Current Cup points leader Kyle Busch was eighth-fastest (202.068 mph). Other notables included William Byron (sixth, 202.615 mph), Jimmie Johnson (10th, 201.219 mph), Kevin Harvick (11th, 201.151 mph), defending Cup Series champ Joey Logano (18th, 200.339 mph), Clint Bowyer (20th, 200.238 mph), Brad Keselowski (21st, 200.238 mph) and Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr. (23rd, 199.085 mph).
Harvick also recorded the most laps (40) of any of the 37 drivers in the session.
Chase Elliott was atop the 10-best consecutive lap average (198.451 mph), followed by Ragan (198.291), Keselowski (198.241), Paul Menard (198.215), McDowell (198.206), Aric Almirola (198.130), Daniel Suarez (198.066), Ryan Blaney (198.066), Kurt Busch (198.034) and Johnson (198.012).
The second and final Cup practice of the weekend takes place later this afternoon from 4:35 to 5:25 p.m. ET. Qualifying for Sunday’s GEICO 500 takes place Saturday.