NXS: Kyle Busch Tops Opening XFINITY Practice at Indianapolis

Brandon Schmidt Featured, Midwest, NASCAR 0 Comments

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Report by Race Chaser Online Mid-South Correspondent Brandon Schmidt — Matt Sullivan/Getty Images North America photo —

Opening practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway showed some interesting turn of events, but at the end of the 85-minute session it was a familiar name atop the leaderboard.

Kyle Busch, aboard the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota, ran the fastest lap of the morning inside the final 10 minutes, clocking a 50.359 second (178.717 mph) lap that was a quarter-second faster than anyone else to lead the way at the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Paul Menard, who has never been outside the top 10 in his three NXS starts at IMS and scored his lone Cup win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at the track, was the first driver chasing Busch. Menard’s clip of 50.606 seconds in his No. 33 Chevrolet was good for second overall.

A pair of young guns in Erik Jones (51.096/176.139) and Kyle Larson (51.146/175.967) clocked in third and fourth on the pylon, with Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney (51.237/175.654) rounding out the top five and looking to give owner Roger Penske his second-career NXS win at the Brickyard.

Jones had to visit the garage once during the round because of slight splitter damage caused by debris on the race track. The session was plagued by debris, with two red flags in the last 50 minutes of practice.

Drivers have also had to cope with a high drag package, nearly identical to the new aero package that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is running, for this race weekend at Indianapolis. The new rules package is designed to promote more side-by-side racing and overtaking at IMS, a track notorious for difficult passing. The biggest aerodynamic change was to the rear spoiler, which was raised nearly three inches to a nine-inch total height.

All of the changes meant drivers had to adapt, and some of the bigger names among series regulars had issues during the opening practice.

Elliot Sadler was among the unlucky during the session, having rear tire rubs and seat insert problems that sent him into the wall early on, however, that didn’t ultimately hold Sadler down. He ran the second best five-lap average at 52.15 seconds (172.58 mph), and was 11th overall on the single lap speed charts.

Reigning Lilly Diabetes 250 winner Ty Dillon was another driver who had issues. Behind the wheel of the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet, Dillon ran some decent laps but ran into an issue with his car jumping in and out of gear — a problem that ended up biting his ECR engine early in the session. Dillon ended the practice in 16th.

XFINITY cars are back on track for their final practice session at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Practice No. 1; Indianapolis Motor Speedway; July 24, 2015

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Paul Menard
  3. Erik Jones
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Ryan Blaney
  6. Daniel Suarez
  7. Aric Almirola
  8. Brendan Gaughan
  9. Brian Scott
  10. Regan Smith
  11. Elliott Sadler
  12. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Chris Buescher
  15. Chase Elliott
  16. Ty Dillon
  17. Alex Bowman
  18. Dakoda Armstrong
  19. Ryan Reed
  20. Ryan Sieg
  21. Blake Koch
  22. J.J. Yeley
  23. Cale Conley
  24. Landon Cassill
  25. Timmy Hill
  26. David Starr
  27. Jeremy Clements
  28. Ross Chastain
  29. Eric McClure
  30. Peyton Sellers
  31. Martin Roy
  32. Stanton Barrett
  33. Harrison Rhodes
  34. Morgan Shepherd
  35. Derek White
  36. Joey Gase
  37. Derrike Cope

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