For those who believe rookie Kyle Larson is close to earning his first Sprint Cup victory, if it happens Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, you can point to Friday’s first practice session as laying the foundation for a potential win.
Larson was the fastest of the 44 drivers that took to the track on the 1.5-mile layout, and was also the only driver to exceed 189 mph, completing 61 laps with a best lap of 189.076 mph.
Aric Almirola was second-fastest (188.620 mph), followed by Emporia, Kan., native Clint Bowyer (188.528), who is still seeking his first career win at his “home track.” Bowyer will also be making his 300th career Sprint Cup start in Saturday’s race.
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises was the performance of Dave Blaney. Even though he took just six practice laps, Blaney turned the fourth-fastest lap at 188.455 mph.
Blaney cut his on-track time short to also watch over son Ryan, who is attempting to qualify for his first-ever Cup race. Ryan Blaney was 17th-fastest, with a best one-lap speed of 187.104.
Kasey Kahne led all drivers with 63 laps and a top speed of 188.042 mph, good for fifth-fastest.
Sixth- through 10th-fastest were Greg Biffle (187.859 mph), Kevin Harvick (187.839), Joey Logano (187.813), Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon (187.800) and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson (187.767).
All four HMS drivers were separated by just nine spots, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14th-fastest (187.435 mph).
The three-slowest drivers in the session were Reed Sorenson (183.007), Cole Whitt (182.630) and Timmy Hill (181.184).
The second practice session – one hour in length – begins at 2:30 pm ET. Check back with MotorSportsTalk for those results, as well as qualifying, which kicks off at 6:40 pm ET.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski