Earnhardt Jr on top in Coke 600 Practice

by May 23, 2014

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For the second straight week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) proved himself to be the quickest driver in opening practice after turning in the fastest lap time in practice for the Coca-Cola 600.

Earnhardt ran a lap that was over a tenth-and-a-half of a second quicker than second-place Kevin Harvick’s (Stewart-Haas Racing) time and would be the only driver to break the 28-second barrier after recording a lap time of 27.941 seconds.Earnhardt led a Hendrick engine-powered effort that placed five Hendrick-powered cars in the top-10 of the session. Jimmie Johnson was Earnhardt’s only teammate in the top-10 while Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick joined Harvick to make three Stewart-Haas Racing entries in the top-10.

Two Roush-Fenway Racing drivers were able to make their way into the top-10 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle. Stenhouse was able to run the fourth-quickest time of the session with a lap of 28.157 seconds, two-tenths off of Earnhardt’s session-leading lap. Edwards would sneak into the top-10 his his lap of 28.335 seconds, a lap that was good enough for 10th on the speedchart.

Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing) proved to be the only highlight for Richard Childress Racing on Thursday as he would turn in the seventh-fastest lap of the session with a timed lap of 28.266 seconds. Although Menard was the only driver of RCR’s four-man stable (Brian Scott is making an entry this week in the No. 33 car) to crack the top-10, the team’s other three drivers were able to put in solid times that would place them all in the top-22.

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano had a surprising lack of pace on Thursday with Logano running the 19th-fastest time and Keselowski running 21st-fastest. The teammates have gone two-for-three thus far this season on the 1.5-mile ovals,

Thursday’s lone 80-minute session had most drivers out on track turning a limited amount of laps. Of the 45 drivers who posted a practice time, 26 of them would run for a total of nine laps or less during the entirety of the session. Reed Sorenson (Tommy Baldwin Racing) would run the fewest amount of laps with a total of four, Justin Allgaier (HScott Motorsports) ran the most with 27.

Top-10 First Practice Speeds for the Coca-Cola 600

  1. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 27.941 seconds | Leader
  2. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 28.101 seconds | -0.160
  3. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 28.123 seconds | -0.182
  4. 17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 28.157 seconds | -0.216
  5. 78 – Martin Truex Jr. – Chevrolet – Furniture Row Racing – 28.158 seconds | -0.217
  6. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 28.173 seconds | -0.232
  7. 27 – Paul Menard – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 28.266 seconds | -0.325
  8. 41 – Kurt Busch – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 28.266 seconds | -0.325
  9. 10 – Danica Patrick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 28.302 seconds | -0.361
  10. 99 – Carl Edwards – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 28.335 seconds | -0.394