CONCORD, N.C. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America photo — There’s never a time like the present to make a statement, and in his debut for JR Motorsports, 21-year-old Alex Bowman did just that.
Bowman, currently driving for BK Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, jumped to the top of the NASCAR Nationwide Series practice charts on his final lap Thursday evening, posting a top speed of 181.245 mph (29.794 seconds) to cover the field by a full tenth of a second in his maiden start in the No. 5 Chevrolet.
“I’ve never had a race car this good here, and it says a lot about these JR Motorsports guys,” a surprised Bowman said following practice. “I know the 54 (Busch) and the 22 (Keselowski) are probably a little better than us in race trim, but I think we can get to where they are tomorrow and I think we’ll be able to contend for a win. Hopefully I can showcase my talent and we can get it done.”
Keselowski, winner of last fall’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at CMS, continued his consistency on the 1.5-mile oval in his Team Penske No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang and ended the session runner-up. Keselowski ran a total of 43 laps during the session, but his fast lap of 180.650 mph (29.892 seconds) was not enough to supplant Bowman.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Dylan Kwasniewski used a late-session surge to jump up to third overall, clocking a top speed of 180.638 mph — just two one-thousandths of a second off of Keselowski’s lap.
Chase of the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, with NNS championship leader Chase Elliott clocking in sixth quick. Elliott’s nearest title challenger, Regan Smith, was 20th on the speed charts.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying takes to the track next, beginning at 7:20 p.m. Eastern time.