DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Martin Truex Jr. fired the opening shot of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season on Saturday at Daytona Int’l Speedway in his first on-track outing with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Truex led the way during the opening practice session for the 61st annual Daytona 500, a 50-minute round that featured both single-car runs for Sunday’s pole qualifying session and drafting runs that allowed teams to start preparing for next week’s Gander Outdoors Duels at Daytona as well.
The 2017 Cup Series champion toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 45.937 seconds (195.920 mph) with his No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, leading a trio of drivers from the Japanese marque atop the speed charts.
Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones, trailed him in second and third on the time sheets. Busch turned a lap of 45.953 seconds (195.852 mph) in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota and Jones stopped the clocks at 45.967 seconds (195.793 mph) with his No. 20 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota.
The three Toyotas drafted together during the closing stages of the practice session.
The Chevrolets of rookie Tyler Reddick and third-generation driver Ty Dillon – both with affiliate teams of Richard Childress Racing – filled out the top five in Saturday’s first round.
Brendan Gaughan was sixth for underdog Beard Motorsports, followed by Daniel Hemric, Matt DiBenedetto, defending Daytona 500 pole winner Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson was 17th-quick on opening day, while defending series champion Joey Logano landed 21st and defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon ended up 30th.
To view the complete practice rundown, advance to the next page.