RICHMOND, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth deadlocked atop the scoring pylon at the end of Friday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Richmond Raceway, setting the stage for another Toyota duel in the regular season finale.
Truex and Kenseth posted identical 22.333 seconds laps (120.897 mph) around the three-quarter-mile Virginia short track, driving the No. 78 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota and No. 20 Hurricane Harvey Relief Toyota, respectively.
By technical assertion, Truex would get the official nod and the tiebreak in speeds, due to being higher in car-owner points than Kenseth.
Toyota has won three of the last four Cup races at Richmond, including the last two regular season finales with Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
Kyle Busch was third-quick and gave Toyota a sweep of the podium in first practice, with a lap of 22.421 seconds (120.423 mph) in his No. 18 M&Ms Caramel Toyota, and was flanked by the No. 42 Target/Coca-Cola Chevrolet of Kyle Larson (22.425/120.401) in fourth.
Brad Keselowski completed the top five (22.429/120.380) in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford and was the fastest member of the ‘Blue Oval Brigade’ in the first hour-long session.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. landed sixth-fastest ahead of Denny Hamlin, who was quickest in the 10-lap average category but seventh on single-lap speed. Rookie Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Spring Richmond winner Joey Logano, who said during his morning press availability that he and his team are in a “do-or-die situation” this weekend (because the win was encumbered), was 11th.
Seven-time and defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson ended the first practice in 24th.
Final practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway kicks off at 12 noon (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM).
Full practice results can be viewed on the next page…