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
ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).
“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.
“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”
For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.
“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.
“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”
Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.
“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.