Brian Vickers’ late lap of 180.854 miles per hour enabled him to lead the first practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway this afternoon.
Vickers re-claimed P1 in the session after being briefly knocked off by Brad Keselowski’s lap of 180.223 miles per hour. That wound up being second-quickest, ahead of Kevin Harvick in third (179.813), Kurt Busch in fourth (179.226), and Jimmie Johnson (179.183), who won this race last June.
Many drivers used the session as an opportunity to get used to the reprofiled Turn 2 at Pocono a.k.a. “the tunnel turn.” A new stretch of apron now sits where curbing used to be, but in Harvick’s eyes, it hasn’t made much impact in regards to driving it.
“With more downforce, obviously the tunnel turn is a lot faster than it used to be,” he told Fox Sports. “That big curb took away a reference getting into the corner, but all in all, it really hasn’t changed a whole lot.”
Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the Top 10 speeds.
Other notables included Danica Patrick in 12th, Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth in 18th, and last August’s Pocono winner, Kasey Kahne, in 20th.
The session was red-flagged for almost 20 minutes after a weeper emerged in Turn 1 with less than 50 minutes remaining.
However, track crews quickly dried up the standing water and the session went back green with about half an hour to go.
Qualifying for Sunday’s Pocono 400 will take place later today at approximately 4:40 p.m. ET.