Sprint Cup interlopers Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, and Joey Logano led the way in the first Nationwide Series practice session at Michigan International Speedway ahead of Saturday’s 250-mile undercard.
Menard posted a lap of 190.411 miles per hour in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to take top honors in the first of two N’Wide practices today at MIS.
Larson, who drives for Turner Scott Motorsports in N’Wide, wasn’t too far behind Menard with a lap of 189.514 mph in the No. 42 Chevy. Behind him was Team Penske’s Joey Logano at 189.459 mph in the No. 22 Ford.
A pair of N’Wide regulars, rookie Chase Elliott and RCR’s Brian Scott, completed the Top 5 speeds. Elliott got up to 189.354 mph on his best lap, while Scott posted a lap of 189.011 mph.
Two more Cup competitors were also quick this morning in N’Wide, with Kyle Busch in P6 (188.952) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in P8 (188.783). Earnhardt is running a special eBay-backed No. 88 JR Motorsports car for Saturday’s race.
The N’Wide group will have one more practice today from 2 to 3:25 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place tomorrow morning at 10:40 a.m. ET.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.