With less than two minutes remaining in first Sprint Cup practice at Texas Motor Speedway, Brian Vickers shot to the top of the time sheets with a lap of 199.218 mph in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
His late blitz ended what had been a session largely dominated by Chevrolet and Ford outfits.
Chevy racers made up the rest of the Top 5 practice speeds, with Chase competitors Kevin Harvick (198.990) and points leader Jeff Gordon (198.581) logging the second and fifth-fastest laps respectively. Tony Stewart was third (198.866) and Martin Truex Jr. was fourth (198.617).
Only one other Chaser cracked the Top 10 in the practice: Carl Edwards, who was seventh with a lap of 197.954 mph.
Aric Almirola was the fastest of the Fords (198.013), just ahead of Edwards in sixth. Jimmie Johnson, Trevor Bayne, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went eighth, ninth, and 10th.
Some of the other Chasers did not start their weekend as well as they probably would have liked. Texas spring winner Joey Logano (196.492) and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski (196.192) were 20th and 24th in the session.
Also a bit off speed-wise were Ryan Newman in 23rd (196.285) and Matt Kenseth in 26th (195.936). The one other Chaser we haven’t mentioned yet, Denny Hamlin, was a bit higher up in 12th (197.390).
Qualifying for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 will take place later tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas – Friday Practice Times
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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