Kevin Harvick got off to a good start in preparation for Sunday’s “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway, leading the way with a fast lap of 163.852 mph in Friday’s opening practice.
If Friday’s practice is any indication, the race could be a shootout between the top contestants in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Eleven of the top 14 drivers in the practice were Chasers, and Harvick, who’s third in the Chase, was just an eyelash faster than points leader Brad Keselowski. Jeff Gordon was third, Jimmie Johnson fifth and Denny Hamlin sixth, followed by Kurt Busch. Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Aric Amirola were also all in that mix, while Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle were just outside it.
Marcos Ambrose invaded the party by running fourth-quickest, and Clint Bowyer was eighth-fastest.
The drivers are preparing for the second race that’s on a new standard as far as speed at Dover. In June, thanks to the new NASCAR rules package, 24 cars broke the old track record in qualifying. Keselowski won the pole with a lap of 164.444 mph, which was almost a full three mph faster than the previous mark.
Qualifying for the Sept. 28 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is set for 3:40 p.m.