Story By: NASCAR – BRISTOL, TN – Alex Bowman set the pace in a groundbreaking practice session Friday afternoon, posting the fastest lap as NASCAR Cup Series drivers made the rounds on Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt surface for the first time.
Ryan Blaney was fastest in NASCAR Cup Series final practice Friday.
Bowman pushed the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to a best speed of 89.308 mph on the half-mile track. The 50-minute session marked the opening of on-track activity ahead of Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the Cup Series’ first event on dirt since 1970.
Dirt expert Christopher Bell was second-fastest at 88.999 mph in the No. 20 Toyota, the first of three Joe Gibbs Racing entries in a row behind Bowman. Kyle Busch placed third on the speed chart with teammate Denny Hamlin fourth and Hendrick’s Kyle Larson rounding out the top five.
Opening practice was completed without major incident, with solo spins by Martin Truex Jr. and JJ Yeley (twice) among the few missteps.
Blaney posted the fastest lap early on in the second 50-minute session with a time of 20.172 seconds at 89.233 mph in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford. Alex Bowman, who topped the leaderboard at the conclusion of opening practice, finished second in the session with a time of 20.194 seconds at 89.135 mph.
Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five fastest speeds.
Kyle Larson, who finished 15th in final practice and fifth in the first practice, will have to start at the rear of the field Sunday due to an engine change. Larson took the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet back to the pits due to high engine temperatures, which caused damage that was too significant to repair.
Cole Custer went for a spin with less than 10 minutes remaining in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford after posting the 20th fastest time.
Truex is among those Cup Series drivers doing double duty in Saturday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) for the Camping World Truck Series.
Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series will be the first of four qualifying races to set the starting lineup is scheduled Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (FS1).