Ryan Newman, one of the major contenders in NASCAR’s most recent visit to Richmond International Raceway last fall, topped the time sheets in this afternoon’s final practice for the Sprint Cup Series at RIR.
Newman’s lap of 21.733 seconds at 124.235 miles per hour in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was enough to beat former boss Tony Stewart, who turned in a time of 21.868 seconds (123.468 mph).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third-fastest in the one-hour session (21.875/123.429), followed by Joey Logano (21.884/123.378) in fourth, and Kasey Kahne in fifth (21.896/123.310).
An interesting note was that outside of Kahne, the rest of the Top 5 in final practice set their quickest laps late in their runs.
Newman’s hot lap was the 35th out of the 37 circuits he took in the session, while Stewart’s best came on Lap 32 of his 36. Earnhardt had his best on Lap 45 of 46, and Logano’s was on Lap 30 of 33.
In contrast, Kahne’s fastest circuit was almost right off the bat, on Lap 3 of 41.
Carl Edwards, who won last fall’s Richmond race, was sixth in the session followed by defending Richmond spring race champion Kevin Harvick in seventh. Jimmie Johnson, Practice 1 pace-setter Kyle Larson, and Jamie McMurray completed the Top 10.
Qualifying is expected to begin later today at 5:10 p.m. ET, with the two-round format in place on the 3/4-mile RIR short track.