Day One of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ open test today concluded after two sessions. Denny Hamlin posted the fastest speed of the day in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota with a lap of 195.712 mph.
He posted the speed late in the second session as him and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth with help from another Toyota driver Mark Martin took place in some drafting practice.
Coincidentally, all four of those drivers were in the top four with Kenseth being second quickest with a speed of 195.385 mph. Kenseth is the defending champion of the Daytona 500 and entering his first season with JGR after spending the last 13 seasons with Jack Roush Racing where he won two Daytona 500′s and the 2003 championship.
Kenseth also was the quickest in the morning session as we saw all single car runs. His 192.757 mph in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota was the quickest of that practice.
The third and final member of JGR, Busch was third quick with a lap of 195.329 mph while the final guy in the drafting group Martin was fourth at 195.063 mph. Those were the only four to top 195 mph today.
Fifth and the quickest among the single car runs today was Jeff Burton, who posted a lap of 194.620 mph in his No. 31 CAT Chevy. His teammate Paul Menard was sixth quickest at 193.340 mph. The other two in the Richard Childress Racing stable Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon were 14th and 17th respectively.
Danica Patrick who will be making her debut in her first full-time Sprint Cup Series season was seventh quickest with a lap of 192.934 mph in the second session. She was third quickest in the first session with a lap of 192.583 mph in the No. 10 Go Daddy Chevy.
Marcos Ambrose turned the top speed in a Ford today as he was second quickest in the first session and eighth in the second. Both times were similar as he was at 192.736 mph in the morning and at 192.530 mph in the second. Those were quick enough for eighth on the day.
Another Toyota driver in Clint Bowyer was ninth quickest overall in the two sessions with turning a lap of 192.513 mph in the second session. He was seventh quickest in the first session but behind the before mentioned drivers.
Rounding out the top 10 in the test sessions today was Bowyer’s new arch enemy Jeff Gordon. The four-time series champ turned a speed of 192.402 mph in the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy. He was the quickest among the Hendrick stable.
Last year’s champ Brad Keselowski struggled to find speed today as he was 31st in both sessions. It was hard to tell whether they were sandbagging or they were struggling to adapt to the new Ford engine. Last year, they won the title running Dodge’s, but this year the entire Penske group switched to run Fords.
Five-time champ Jimmie Johnson was 18th quickest this morning and 22nd this afternoon.
34 of the 35 cars took to the track today and almost all of the 34 drivers agreed how great this new car is. They all loved the look and how it handled in the draft. They think this is going to provide great racing.
Day two of testing resumes tomorrow at 9 AM. The session will be like today and go to Noon followed by an hour break before they pick back up at 1 PM through 5. Most of the drivers will be working on drafting setups to get some good data to bring back next month.
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