One day after his crew chief, Todd Parrott, was suspended indefinitely for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola flexed his No. 43 Ford Fusion’s muscle during Friday practice at Talladega Superspeedway.
Almirola (pictured) topped the first of two sessions with a blistering lap of 202.000 miles per hour around the massive 2.66-mile oval, which will play host to Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500.
The RPM pilot was one of 11 drivers to bust the 200-mph barrier during the opening practice, which mostly involved drafting with other cars. His lap was just a touch quicker than Jeff Burton’s lap of 201.987 mph in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
The slowest of those drivers within the 200+ mph bracket was Jimmie Johnson, who then followed up by leading the day’s second session (which leaned more toward single-car runs rather than drafting work).
Johnson topped out at 195.936 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and was followed by Front Row Motorsports’ Josh Wise (195.892 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (195.333 mph).
Chase leader Matt Kenseth only logged eight laps in the second practice session, posting a lap good enough for 17th on the time sheets (191.252 mph). In Practice 1, Kenseth was 12th-fastest (199.492 mph).
Tomorrow afternoon, the Sprint Cup contingent will qualify for Sunday’s main event at 12:10 p.m. ET.