NASCAR: Carl Edwards tops final practice; Brian Vickers to backup after early crash


Carl Edwards’ lap of 121.863 miles per hour was enough to lead this afternoon’s Sprint Cup final practice at Richmond International Raceway.

Ford drivers claimed the Top 2 spots in the 80-minute practice, with Brad Keselowski’s lap of 121.841 mph good for P2.

Clint Bowyer, who sits 23 points behind Greg Biffle for the final spot on the Chase Grid going into Saturday’s regular season finale, was third-fastest (121.737).

Jamie McMurray followed up his Top 10 showing in first practice by improving to fourth (121.715). Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson ended up fifth (121.704), while Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, and Greg Biffle made up the remainder of the Top 10.

The session was slowed early by a crash involving Brian Vickers (pictured), who spun and slammed the Turn 2 wall. The impact left enough damage on his primary No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to have the backup rolled off the transporter.

“We cut a left-rear tire and it just came apart,” Vickers told ESPN. “We’re not sure why…I don’t want to say [what reason], but Goodyear brought a good tire here. They changed the tire coming to this race, and as you saw in the first practice, the tires and the way they were rubbering in the track where we can run the second groove and third groove, I think it’ll make for a great race.

“But unfortunately, for whatever reason…We lost the left rear going down the front stretch. I did the best I could to keep it off the wall, but I couldn’t.”

Vickers is among those drivers that can only make the Chase for the Sprint Cup with a victory in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400. He was fourth in this morning’s first practice session.

Qualifying is set for later tonight at 5:40 p.m. ET.