Almirola, Johnson top Dega practice sessions
Eleven drivers eclipsed the 200 mile per hour barrier at NASCAR’s palace of speed – Talladega Superspeedway – Friday during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500, the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola, driving the famed No. “43” that was made famous by NASCAR’s “King,” Richard Petty, led the blistering pace with a speed of 202.000 mph around the 2.66-mile layout while Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was second at 201.987 mph.
Other drivers topping 200 mph included Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex, Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt., Jr., Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Matt Kenseth, the series points leader, was 12th, the first driver under 200 mph. Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying that will determine the starting lineup for the Camping World RV Sales 500 is set for 12:10 EST Saturday at NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track.
Jimmie Johnson showed signs of continuing his success on restrictor-plate tracks in 2013, posting the fastest speed in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Johnson made only nine laps in the session, but he set the pace with a circuit of 195.936 mph. Coming on the heels of a drafting practice in which 11 drivers posited speeds higher than 200 mph, many top teams chose to make only a handful of laps in the final session, while some skipped it altogether.
Josh Wise was second-fastest in final practice (195.892 mph), while Denny Hamlin (195.333 mph), Kasey Kahne (195.297 mph), and Bobby Labonte (195.269 mph) rounded out the top five. Juan Pablo Montoya, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10. Kahne ran the most laps in the session, with 24.
Matt Kenseth, who leads the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by four points over Johnson, made eight laps and placed 17th in the session. Five Chase drivers did not participate in the day's final practice — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.
Friday's two practices were the only sessions of the weekend for the Sprint Cup cars, which qualify Saturday beginning at 12:10 p.m. ET. The Camping World RV Sales 500 is scheduled to go green Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.