NSCS: Kahne Do; Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet Paces Opening Cup Practice at Bristol

RaceChaser Staff MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

BRISTOL, Tenn. — official series release — NASCAR photo —

Kasey Kahne rose to the top of the early leaderboard Friday afternoon in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kahne, driving the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet, turned a fast lap of 128.168 mph on the high-banked, 0.533-mile oval. Kahne’s lap was significantly below the track record of 131.362 mph set by Kevin Harvick in Coors Light Pole Qualifying last year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., his Hendrick teammate in the No. 88 Chevy, was second-fastest at 128.159 mph — just one-thousandth of a second slower than Kahne. Brad Keselowski was third-best in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford at 127.971 mph in preparation for Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up To Cancer (1 p.m. ET, FOX).

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards (fourth-best at 127.554 mph) and David Ragan (fifth at 127.546 mph) completed the top five.

Harvick, the Sprint Cup Series standings leader and a two-time winner this year, was 12th-fastest at 127.292 mph. Jimmie Johnson, last week’s winner and the only other driver with multiple Sprint Cup victories in 2015, was 33rd-fastest at 125.889 mph.

The practice session was the first on-track activity for NASCAR’s premier series since Bristol officials expanded the track’s use of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier system, covering the exposed concrete walls on the front and back straightaways. The track also added tire-pack barriers along certain interior walls.

There were no major incidents in the 85-minute session, but the extension of the energy-absorbing barriers farther away from the concrete retaining wall could affect the racing on the already tight layout.

“Not yet,” said Edwards, the defending race winner, noting that opening practice largely consisted of single-car runs. “Anything that makes this place narrower is going to make it crazier.”

Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET and will be televised on FOX Sports 1.

CREDIT: NASCAR

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