Roush Fenway Racing appeared as if it had something to prove in the first of two Nationwide Series practice sessions Thursday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
RFR placed all three of its NNS drivers at the top of the speed charts, with Trevor Bayne being the fastest.
Bayne covered the expansive 2.66-mile track – the largest oval in NASCAR – at 190.378 mph, followed closely by teammates Chris Buescher (190.370) and Ryan Reed (190.366).
Kyle Larson was the only other driver to break the 190 mph mark at 190.121 mph.
David Ragan, who won the Sprint Cup race at Talladega last spring, was fifth-fastest at 189.808, followed by Ty Dillon (189.171), Brian Scott (189.144), Brendan Gaughan (189.025), Elliott Sadler (188.660) and James Buescher rounded out the top 10 fastest drivers in the field at 188.645 mph.
Only 36 cars and drivers took part in the session. A second NNS practice is scheduled for later this afternoon from 4:30 to 6 pm ET.
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.