Jeff Gordon was at the head of the pack during Happy Hour for the Sunday, Sept. 30 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway, running a lap of 155.743 mph on Friday afternoon at the Monster Mile.
Teams took a variety of approaches to the afternoon. Several cars took at least part of the practice to perfect qualifying trim, including Gordon, Joey Logano (second fastest, 154.586 mph), Jimmie Johnson (third, 154.579 mph) and Kurt Busch (fourth, 154.314 mph).
Meanwhile, those teams that were happy with qualifying setups from the morning practice went to race trim, with several cars taking long runs. Kyle Busch took 83 laps during the session, and had a 10-lap average of 151.329 mph that was the fastest among cars that took at least 10 consecutive laps. Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex, Jr. – all drivers that were among the fastest in the first practice – were also on that fast list for 10-lap averages.
Qualifying is scheduled for 1:40 PM on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Martin Truex Jr. has long been a fan of Dover International Speedway. And five years after posting his first (and, to this point, only) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the Monster Mile, it’s becoming apparent that he has this place figured out.
Truex was the fastest driver as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rubber hit the track for the first time on the weekend, practicing in preparation for the Sept. 30 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. He ran a lap of 22.918 seconds for an average speed of 157.082 mph, just about a half-second faster than Clint Bowyer, who was second-quickest.
Although he doesn’t have the wins to show for it, Truex has been especially quick at the Monster Mile in recent years. He’s had poles here each of the last two seasons – the spring race in 2010 and last fall’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. This year, Truex hits his home track as part of the Chase, and will have the privilege of qualifying last as a result of his solid practice run.
In addition to looking for his second career win, Truex is looking for a boost in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. He comes into the race sitting in 10th, 34 points out of the lead.
Toyotas took five of the top six fastest laps, which was an echo of the spring when the top four cars in the first practice were Toyotas, including Truex. Besides him and Bowyer, Denny Hamlin was third quickest, followed by Mark Martin. Greg Biffle rounded out the top five, while Kyle Busch was sixth.
Perennial Dover tormentor and current Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, the winner of this year’s Dover spring race, was an uncharacteristic 25th in qualifying while running 31 laps, more than the majority of other drivers. A win on Sunday for Johnson would be his eighth at Dover – that would give him sole possession of the track record, which he currently shares with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.
Second-place Chase driver Brad Keselowski also was down in the standings in practice, sitting 29th. He will start Sunday just a single point behind Johnson.