LAS VEGAS — official report — Jonathan Moore/Getty Images North America photo —
Austin Dillon clocked the fastest lap in opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice Friday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Dillon, the only driver to break the 30-second barrier in the 55-minute session, drove the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet to a best lap of 180.977 mph on the 1.5-mile track. He’ll be making his second XFINITY Series start of the season in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second-fastest at 179.414 mph in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet that he co-owns. He was just ahead of JRM teammate Regan Smith, who registered the third-fastest lap at 178.453 mph. Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.
Joe Gibbs Racing wound up using two fill-in drivers in their three entries for Saturday’s 300-miler. Matt Kenseth was an emergency sub in the No. 18 Toyota for rookie Daniel Suarez, who was treated in the infield care center for a stomach ailment. Suarez felt well enough to turn a handful of laps near the end of the session, but it was Kenseth who posted the team’s best lap, a 177.363-mph speed that was ninth-fastest overall.
Hamlin will substitute all weekend in Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota for the injured Kyle Busch, who suffered multiple lower-leg injuries in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Defending series champion Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler, Darrell Wallace Jr.,Cale Conley, Ross Chastain, Kenseth, Earnhardt, Smith, Hamlin and Blaney were all held out of the first 15 minutes of practice. Their respective teams all served a penalty for being late to technical inspection last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
XFINITY Series co-leader Ty Dillon was sixth-fastest of the 35 drivers who participated in the opening season. Chris Buescher, who shares the top spot in the standings, was 13th-fastest.
Series regular Brian Scott didn’t complete a lap after the engine in his Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet developed early trouble.
Final XFINITY Series practice is scheduled from 6-7:25 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.