CONCORD, N.C. – Though Austin Cindric fired the first shot during NASCAR Xfinity Series practice on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s new ROVAL course, it was Daniel Hemric who got the last laugh.
Hemric turned the fastest lap of the day during final practice for the Xfinity Series at the 17-turn, 2.28-mile layout, posting a best time of one minute, 18.197 seconds (104.966 mph) with the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet.
The Kannapolis, N.C., native’s performance came after placing fourth during Friday’s lone Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session earlier in the day. Hemric also announced that he will move up to the top level of the sport next season, taking over the No. 31 Chevrolet in the Cup Series.
“Needless to say, it’s been a good day,” Hemric smiled before climbing into his Cup car for qualifying. “This is a special place for me; it always has been, and this has been a special weekend so far. We’ve had a lot of speed each time we’ve been on the race track, and we hope we can keep it going on both sides.”
Hemric’s time in final practice was nearly a second faster than that of Ryan Truex, who was second in Happy Hour but fifth on the overall speed charts.
Cindric was the one who held the honor of second-fastest for the day, but even he was a quarter-second adrift of Hemric after a lap of 1:18.443 (104.636 mph) in the No. 22 MoneyLion Ford for Team Penske.
Canadian and former NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Alex Labbe landed third-fastest, followed by Ryan Preece and Truex.
Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, Ty Majeski, Christopher Bell and Justin Marks completed the overall top 10.
Two major incidents punctuated the first of two 50-minute practice sessions on Friday, the first of which was easily the most vicious. J.J. Yeley was working towards turn one when he went nose-first into the tire barriers, destroying the front end of the No. 38 Chevrolet and leaving RSS Racing scrambling.
The team confirmed after practice that they do not have a backup car for Yeley and were reviewing their options for race day.
“Unfortunately the front doesn’t look like nice anymore. I couldn’t get the car slowed or to turn through turn one,” Yeley explained after being checked and released from the infield care center.
“I’m not sure if fluids were on track from (the No.) 13 that spun in front of me. I hate it for Ryan Sieg and (sponsor) Frank Foster.”
Once the track returned to green-flag conditions, Bell then spun between turns three and four and smacked the tire packs with the right-front corner of his No. 20 Toyota. Bell was able to continue.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is scheduled for noon on Saturday.