Can you pick favorites in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race based on the practice sessions? Maybe, maybe not. But if they’re any indication, Kevin Harvick and a handful of other drivers are going to be the primary targets for the rest of the field in the Sunday, Sept. 28 “AAA 400” at Dover International Speedway.
A day after leading the morning practice and winning the pole, and a few hours after running seventh in the cooler conditions of the morning practice, Kevin Harvick was once again at the top of the speed charts for Saturday afternoon’s Happy Hour. He posted a top lap of 22.917 mph on the first of his 47 practice laps, good for an average speed of 157.089 mph.
Harvick, who’s third in the points standings heading into the race, will have points leader Brad Keselowski right behind him in the starting grid and likely right next to him during the race, at least at the beginning. Keselowski, who will start fourth, was right behind Harvick in the practice session at 156.379 mph. Jeff Gordon ran third-fastest at 155.952 mph, as the top-three drivers in Happy Hour were the same as they were in Friday’s initial practice.
Also in the mix up front is Denny Hamlin, who will start third and is carrying a remarkable air of confidence into what is quite possibly his worst track. He’s had the performance to back it up this year though – after finishing fifth in the June race, he’s now run in the top six in all three practice sessions this weekend, including third this morning and fourth in Happy Hour.
Aric Almirola, another driver who has to do everything he can tomorrow to stay alive in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, had an impressive practice and ran fifth-fastest. He was followed by Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch.
The drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take to the track at 2 p.m. tomorrow for the “AAA 400,” the first “knockout race” in the newly formatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.