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Daniel Suarez fastest in final Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Suarez completed a sweep of Saturday’s two Cup practice sessions by posting the top speed in final practice for the Coca-Cola 600.

Suarez recorded a speed of 180.704 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway. He made 51 laps in the session.

“I will say one of the best (cars of his Cup career) for sure,” Suarez said. “I feel like this year I’ve had some good race cars with an opportunity to finish in the top five and top 10, but I feel like this car has been pretty solid.  It’s fast and it’s not comfortable to drive 100 percent, but I don’t feel like anyone out there is comfortable right now, so it’s been sunny and hot and slick and that makes things a little bit more difficult, but overall my team has been doing a very good job with Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance.  We have a good piece and hopefully we can take advantage of it tomorrow.”

The top five was completed by Daniel Hemric (180.686 mph), Denny Hamlin (180.553), Ryan Preece (180.469) and Kyle Busch (180.276).

“I felt pretty good with our practice there,” said Hamlin, who will start 20th Sunday. “It was one of our better practices of the year. We’re going to have to start from deep in the field, which is going to be a challenge with traffic, but we’ve got a long race to get it done. Pretty happy with where we’re at.”

Busch has the best 10-lap average at 179.485 mph

Chase Elliott recorded the most laps in the session with 62. He was 18th on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.

Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

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Kurt Busch posted the fastest speed in the Cup Series’ final practice session Friday at Kansas Speedway.

Busch recorded a speed of 177.731 mph around the 1.5-mile track as the session came to a close.

The top five was completed by Alex Bowman (177.328 mph), Kansas native Clint Bowyer (177.288), Kevin Harvick (177.282) and Denny Hamlin (177.241).

Kyle Busch, who was seventh fastest (176.713), recorded the most laps with 55.

Kevin Harvick had the best 10-lap average at 176.257 mph.

Bowman brushed the wall in Turn 2 right after he took the top spot with just under 10 minutes left in the session. He went to the garage but will not have to go to a backup car.

“(Crew chief) Greg (Ives) will get it fixed up, obviously we’re going to be racing in really different conditions,” Bowman told the Motor Racing Network. “With the whole pack being in front of me I think I had just a little more speed than I realized I had getting into the corner.”

The session was briefly stopped with about six minutes left for a spin by Kyle Larson in Turn 2 which nearly took out Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the speed chart.

Kyle Busch predicts an aero battle at Bristol: ‘Fantastic. Can’t wait’

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kyle Busch skipped watching Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t seem to need a preview of how Bristol Motor Speedway will race Sunday.

Echoing a refrain sounded by several drivers after the March 24 race at Martinsville Speedway, Busch is anticipating the high downforce package to add an aerodynamic element to short-track racing in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I think you’re going to run or try to run wherever you can where the guy in front of you ain’t because you certainly can’t follow,” Busch said, adding a touch of sarcasm. “(Cars are) plowing tight. Aerotight at Bristol. At a short track. Fantastic. Can’t wait.”

While a major factor at the 1.5-mile speedways that bring higher speeds, aerodynamics rarely come into play on shorter tracks where speeds are much lower.

But after Martinsville, Denny Hamlin said setting up passes was more difficult because the wake was so unstable for the trailing car.

Busch is expecting similar conditions over 500 laps Sunday at Bristol’s 0.533-mile oval, which has much higher banking than Martinsville.

Is it related to the high downforce?

“Yep,” he said. “That’s exactly what we told everybody.”

So how does he think the race will unfold Sunday?

“Drive as hard as you can until you blow a right front, and hopefully you’re not the first one that blows it, so then there’s a caution, you come in, you make spots on pit road,” Busch said.

Busch’s No. 18 Toyota ranked fifth on the speed chart during final practice Saturday. Joey Logano was fastest at 128.830 mph and is expecting his No. 22 Ford will need to be “versatile” to be successful Sunday.

“That’s what Bristol is all about these days is being able to have a car where you can run up top when you have to, run the bottom when you have to and run everywhere in between when you’re in traffic,” Logano said. “Those are the cars that usually succeed in the race, so I feel like I have that in my car right now.”

Track workers will apply traction compound after Saturday’s Xfinity race to ensure there’s a bottom groove Sunday. Jimmie Johnson, whose No. 48 Chevrolet was second fastest in practice, said warmer temperatures Sunday could make the traction compound more effective, but it likely will fade over the race’s second half.

Logano anticipates it’ll be harder to drive away than at Martinsville (where winner Brad Keselowski led 445 laps), but “if you’re smart about how you’re up front, you can stay up there for a long time if your car is good.

“It’s a little stickier on the bottom still, so that stuff only lasts for a certain period of time before a lot of rubber sticks to it and it kind of gets rough and becomes very challenging to run down there,” Logano said. “I’m sure the bottom is going to be tough on the start of the race until it gets heat and then the bottom is going to roll for a while until it clumps up and then the top is going to start rolling and then the top is going to clump up and then you just have to find a lane that works best for your car.

“That’s what’s fun about Bristol. I love it.  It’s always changing.  I’m sure the dirt guys probably love it because the track is always changing.”

As a seven-time winner at Bristol, his winningest track in Cup, Busch also is a big fan of Thunder Valley and is optimistic of his chances Sunday (“I feel like we’re a top four or five car; it’s got good speed.”).

But he won’t have the advantage of preparing with the Xfinity race, which is restricted from Cup drivers because it’s a Dash 4 Cash event. That didn’t exactly make it must-see TV for Busch.

“Nope,” Busch said when asked if he’d watch the race (he rarely does when he isn’t competing). “I don’t give a shit. Hopefully all the fans that have packed this place today, and everybody who is going to turn on a TV and watch because Kyle Busch ain’t in the race will enjoy a great race.”

It sounds as if Busch, who recently crossed 200 career victories, might have an edge and extra motivation for excelling Sunday and inciting his haters again.

“I’m just an unhappy person,” Busch deadpanned. “Clint Bowyer’s told you that.”

Joey Logano fastest in final practice for the Food City 500

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Joey Logano paced the final Cup practice Saturday for the Food City 500.

The Team Penske driver turned a 128.830 mph lap (14.894 seconds) on the 0.533-mile oval.

Jimmie Johnson was second, followed by Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Logano has two victories at Bristol, most recently on Aug. 22, 2015.

Chase Elliott, who will start from the pole position Sunday, was 16th fastest after brushing the wall in practice.

Erik Jones, who told this week he is working on a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing, was fastest in the first practice Saturday morning. He was 11th in final practice.

Ryan Preece suffered enough damage from a blown tire during the session that he’ll go to a backup car for tomorrow’s race.

Click here for the final practice speed chart.

Denny Hamlin fastest in final Cup practice at Texas

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Denny Hamlin posted the top speed in the final Cup Series practice session Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hamlin recorded a speed of 186.987 mph.

The top five was completed by Kyle Busch (186.342 mph), Ryan Blaney (186.278), Kurt Busch (186.091) and Jimmie Johnson (186.047).

Johnson, who will start from the pole, had the best 10-lap average at 184.366 mph.

Most of the top speeds came late in the session when a large group of cars ran together in essentially race conditions.

“Just trying to get around each other and figure out what your car is in balance and traffic,” Hamlin told Fox Sports 1. “You certainly don’t want to have anyone in front of you, that’s for sure. It’s extremely tough to get around someone, unless they bobble and get out-of-the-way. There’ll be plenty of passes in and around the field because people are going to get out of shape following someone else. But once you’re out front, man, you can just take off and go.”

Click here for the speed chart.