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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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.