SONOMA, Calif. — Report by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Aaron Bearden — NASCAR photo —
Looking for their third win in four years at Sonoma Raceway, Michael Waltrip Racing started the weekend off fast.
Clint Bowyer put down a time of 1:14.979 to top opening Sprint Cup Series practice in preparation for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. The 2012 winner at the 11-turn road course is looking for his first win since 2013.
JTG Daugherty’s AJ Allmendinger took second on the charts with a 75.159-second lap. Allmendinger, 33, is one of the favorites to win this weekend, following his 2014 triumph at Watkins Glen International.
Sam Hornish Jr. ended the session third on the charts as he prepares for his first road course race with Richard Petty Motorsports. Danica Patrick and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five.
David Ragan put up the sixth-quickest time to give MWR two of the top 10 positions. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and defending winner Carl Edwards finished out the top 10.
Looking for his third win of 2015, Kurt Busch topped the charts for more than an hour. However, the 2011 winner dropped to ninth when teams began switching over to qualifying trim in the final minutes of practice.
Turn two lived up to its “Calamity Corner” nickname in the first practice sessions, causing four spins during the session. However, the caution flag fell only once, when Casey Mears ran out of fuel and coasted to a stop before the entrance to turn 11.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to action at Sonoma Raceway at 6:30 p.m. ET, when the field heads on-track for final practice.