Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon pace early-morning Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville


Jimmie Johnson may have been eliminated from advancing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but he didn’t drive that way in Saturday’s second-to-last practice at Martinsville.

Despite chilly temperatures in the mid-40s in the early-morning session, Johnson led all drivers with a best lap of 98.023 mph, the only driver over the 98 mph mark in the 50-minute practice.

Teammate Jeff Gordon, the only Hendrick Motorsports driver still in the Chase as it moves to start of the Eliminator Round, was second-fastest at 97.699 mph.

Martin Truex Jr. was third-fastest (97.679), followed by pole-sitter Jamie McMurray (97.674), Kevin Harvick (97.664) and Talladega winner Brad Keselowski (97.638).

The rest of the top 10 fastest were spring Martinsville race winner Kurt Busch (97.593), Brian Vickers (97.523), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (97.513) and Clint Bowyer (97.453).

As for the other Chase drivers, Joey Logano (97.412), Ryan Newman (97.377) and Denn Hamlin (97.367) were 12th through 14th.

Matt Kenseth was 20th fastest (97.217) and Carl Edwards was the slowest Chaser (96.949).

Justin Allgaier’s rough weekend continued in the morning practice. He ran just five laps before his ride suffered what appeared to be motor failure.

The final practice is slated to run from Noon to 12:50 ET this afternoon, just before the start of the Camping World Truck Series race that begins around 1:30 pm ET.

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