The coming weekend may be shaping up to be a historic one at Dover International Speedway – historic as in maybe the fastest racing ever.
Dover’s track record for qualifying in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has stood for more than nine years since Jeremy Mayfield turned a lap of 161.522 mph in qualifying for the June 2004 race. But if Friday’s first practice session was qualifying for that race, Mayfield would have started in the middle of the pack, because 13 drivers unofficially broke that record with the fastest lap of their practice on Friday.
Matt Kenseth, who’s looking for his third consecutive win in Sunday’s “AAA 400″ NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, turned the fastest lap of the field at 163.473 mph. He circled the Monster Mile in 22.022 seconds, coming just short of the track’s first-ever sub-22-second lap.
Near-perfect weather contributed to the fast speeds, with overcast skies and temperatures in the high 60s making for ideal track conditions. But it’s clear that the Gen-6 cars, which set new records at just about every track except Dover earlier this year, are now becoming more dialed-in at the Monster Mile.
Martin Truex, Jr. was second in practice at 162.859 mph, followed by Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch. Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle rounded out the top 10.
Jimmie Johnson, who is third in the Chase standings, was the “slowest” of the 13 drivers to go faster than the track record, running a lap of 161.580 mph.
Drivers will have an opportunity to make the times official during qualifying later this
afternoon, which is scheduled to start at 3:10 p.m.