LAS VEGAS — Going into a potential must-win event this weekend if he hopes to keep his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase hopes alive, Daniel Hemric has served notice that he will be a force to be reckoned with at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hemric topped the opening round of practice on Saturday for the Trucks at the 1.5-mile oval, posting a best time of 30.512 seconds (176.980 mph) in his No. 19 Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150 as he seeks his first win of the year.
The 25-year-old enters Sin City last in the Chase standings, 20 points outside the cutoff line, after a blown tire in last week’s playoff opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway led to a cut brake line and eventual fire that took him out of contention for a likely top 10 finish.
A pair of ThorSport Toyotas spent the late stages of the 45-minute session, as two-time series champion Matt Crafton and rookie Ben Rhodes slotted their entries into second and third on the speed charts, respectively.
Crafton’s best lap of 30.595 seconds (176.499 mph) was clocked on his fifth of 25 laps, while Rhodes’ time of 30.606 seconds (176.436 mph) came on his final of 27 laps in the session.
Defending Las Vegas winner John Wes Townley (30.621/176.350) was the fastest Chevrolet in fourth, followed by points leader and Loudon winner William Byron (30.640/176.240)
Ben Kennedy, Tyler Reddick, Johnny Sauter, Rico Abreu and Grant Enfinger completed the top 10.
Chase contenders further back in the rundown included Timothy Peters (13th), Christopher Bell (14th) and John Hunter Nemechek (19th).
Cody Coughlin had the fastest 10-lap average speed in the session, at a mark of 171.790 mph.
30 trucks took time in the opening practice session.
Final practice for NASCAR’s fastest truckers rolls off at 1 p.m. ET.