CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Busch was fastest during the lone Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on Friday afternoon.
Despite losing one of his flying laps due to penalty for cutting the course earlier in the 50-minute session, Busch still put up the fastest lap of the day, touring the 17-turn, 2.28-mile course in one minute, 17.145 seconds (106.397 mph) with the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
Busch’s top speed came on his final circuit of six turned during the session, a mock qualifying run.
Meanwhile, Busch’s teammate Erik Jones was close behind in another Joe Gibbs Racing entry, turning the second-fastest lap of 1:17.156 (106.382 mph) in the No. 20 Reser’s Toyota and ending up just .011 of a second adrift of Busch’s leading mark when the red and black flags waved to conclude practice.
Jones struggled to find the words to describe the ROVAL after his first race weekend session.
“It’s a lot,” noted the Byron, Mich., young gun. “I felt really ready to go this morning, though, and I feel like our lap time still has more left in it. As far as the track goes … it’s a lot of fun when you’re by yourself, but I don’t know what it will be like in the race on Sunday.”
Joey Logano was third (1:17.345/106.122) in a Team Penske Ford, followed by NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Daniel Hemric, who impressed by going fourth-fastest (1:17.375/106.081) in the No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
Hemric is making just his second-ever Cup Series start this weekend and is expected to be announced as the next full time driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for RCR later in the afternoon.
Clint Bowyer completed the top five, followed by Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne.
JTG-Daugherty Racing teammates Chris Buescher and A.J. Allmendinger were 12th and 15th in practice, respectively.
Kevin Harvick was the lowest of the 16 playoff drivers during Friday’s opening round of track time, ranking 27th of 40 drivers in attendance with the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The session was extremely chaotic from start to finish, with at least seven different drivers involved in noteworthy incidents.
Bubba Wallace was initiated as the first driver to go around on-track, doing so in the infield section of the course, but the awards for the most-damaging incidents belonged to Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon.
Both Blaney and Dillon clipped the tire pack jutting out from the end of the bus-stop chicane on the backstretch, with Dillon’s car nearly losing the entire left-front fender as a result of the contact.
“There’s not a lot of room for error (back there),” noted Martin Truex Jr. after practice. “I’m not a big fan of that part of the course, personally.”