Austin Dillon still has it.
The defending Nationwide Series champion, now a full-time rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, paced the 42 cars that took part in Friday’s final NNS practice at Texas Motor Speedway.
This weekend marks Dillon’s first appearance in an NNS race in 2014.
Dillon was the only driver over 185 mph, clocking a best lap at 185.516 mph. Fellow Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano was second-fastest at 184.212 mph.
“Our car was pretty fast,” Dillon told ESPN. “I’m a little loose, which I think is fast, but we’re going to tighten it up a little bit for the race and let it eat. … I’m just here for a win and to have some fun.”
While Saturday’s race will mark Dillon’s first NNS event this season, he told ESPN that the plan is to run several NNS races next season, in addition to his full-time ride in the Cup ranks.
“Hopefully, you’ll see me a little more next year, that’s the plan,” Dillon said.
Trevor Bayne, who will move to the Cup ranks full-time next season with Roush Fenway Racing, was third-fastest at 183.611 mph.
Fourth through 10th were Brendan Gaughan (183.449 mph), Dylan Kwasniewski (183.076), Kyle Busch (182.766), Ty Dillon (182.180), Matt Kenseth (181.984), Brian Scott (181.843) and Chris Buescher (181.757.
Other notable drivers and their position/speeds were Kyle Larson (13th, 181.641) Kevin Harvick (14th, 181.598 mph), Elliott Sadler (15th, 181.568), Ryan Blaney (16th, 181.482), series points leader Chase Elliott (17th, 181.190) and Regan Smith (18th, 180.391).
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