KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Though he enters the race weekend at Kansas Speedway below the cut line for eliminations, Ryan Blaney proved on Friday that he’s not going down without a fight.
Blaney paced the first practice session for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the 1.5-mile oval with a fast lap of 28.106 seconds (192.130 mph) in the No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Riggs Ford. The Team Penske driver is 10th in the playoff standings and on the brink of elimination without a win on Sunday.
Notably, Blaney only ran five laps in the session and was the only driver above 192 miles per hour.
Right behind, however, was former Kansas winner Kyle Busch (28.159/ 191.768), who timed in second-fastest overall in the No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch’s lone win at Kansas came in 2016, but he has seven Cup Series trophies this season, including one already in the playoffs.
Two more Fords followed in third and fourth, with Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Light team outpacing Joey Logano’s No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil entry in single-lap speed. The top four drivers during Friday practice were covered by less than one tenth of a second.
Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet completed the top five (28.210/ 191.421) on the speed charts.
Sixth through 10th were Erik Jones, Paul Menard, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer.
Fords occupied seven of the top 10 positions in first practice, with Brad Keselowski as the only Blue Oval driver outside the top 10 in 16th.
Meanwhile, Kyle Larson was the lowest of the dozen remaining playoff contenders, seeing his bad weekend get even worse after getting loose in turn two and crashing his primary car.
Larson’s No. 42 McDonald’s Trick. Treat. Win! Chevrolet stepped out on him in the middle of the corner, and even though the Elk Grove, Calif., native tried to correct the slide, he pancaked the right side of the car and damaged it beyond repair.
As such, Larson will start from the rear of the field on Sunday in a backup car.
“I’m good, but I’m mad at myself,” said Larson of the accident. “I got loose and tried to correct it, but the second time I corrected … I don’t know if it got on the splitter or what, but it didn’t turn and went straight.
“I hate it that I wrecked the primary car, but I’m sure our backup car will be fine because we’re always pretty good here at Kansas. We just have to dig deep and see what we can do.”
Larson and Chip Ganassi Racing also lost their first-round appeal of penalties from Talladega Superspeedway earlier in the day. He sits 36 points back of the cut line to move on, pending the outcome of a final appeal later Friday night.
To view complete practice results, advance to the next page.