Clint Bowyer popped the fastest lap in today’s first Sprint Cup practice session at Talladega Superspeedway, topping out early at 200.385 mph in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
Only two Chasers were among the Top 10 speeds in the first session, and none were within the Top 5. Bowyer’s lap was enough to eclipse Aric Almirola (200.268), defending GEICO 500 champion Jamie McMurray (200.117), Michael McDowell (199.971), and Travis Kvapil (199.883).
Kyle Larson was sixth-fastest, followed by Landon Cassill in seventh, Chaser Brad Keselowski in eighth (199.238), Kurt Busch in ninth, and another Chaser, Kyle Busch, in 10th (199.160).
McMurray also claimed the best 10-lap average speed in the session at 196.586 mph across Lap 3-12 of the 18 laps that he logged.
The other Chasers ran as follows: Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th, Matt Kenseth in 14th, Kasey Kahne in 16th, Ryan Newman in 24th, Denny Hamlin in 28th, Joey Logano in 31st, Jimmie Johnson in 32nd, Jeff Gordon in 33rd, Kevin Harvick in 37th, and Carl Edwards in 38th.
Logano and Harvick need not worry too much as they’re safely in the Eliminator Round already with recent wins (Logano at Kansas, Harvick last week at Charlotte). As for Johnson, one of several drivers that effectively need a win this weekend to stay alive in the Chase, his work in Practice 1 was largely outside the draft. His best lap of 32 in the session was at 195.748 mph.
Final practice for the Cup series will begin later this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET.