Kevin Harvick Moves to the Top of NNS Final Practice

by June 27, 2014

Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

SPARTA, Ky. — Kevin Harvick (JR Motorsports) closed out practice at the Kentucky Speedway for the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 by claiming the fastest time in final practice for tonight’s event.

Harvick’s lap of 30.524 seconds was the quickest lap set by any entrant for the race across all four practice and testing sessions held since Wednesday. Harvick was the only JR Motorsports driver to crack the top-10, Regan Smith would place 13th on the speed chart while rookie Chase Elliott would be further down the chart in the 16th position. The JR Motorsports trio have been having some issues obtaining the same pace that teams such as Team Penske and Richard Childress Racing having found, Harvick’s chart-topping performance from this morning should, however, give the trio of drivers some confidence heading into tonight.

Speaking of Richard Childress Racing, the team’s four drivers were once again able to run consistently across the board with all four drivers running top-12 times in final practice. Ty Dillon and Paul Menard would run second and third, respectively, behind Harvick while Brendan Gaughan would run the seventh-fastest time of the morning. Brian Scott would be the only RCR driver to run outside of the top-10 after running the 12th-fastest time earlier today.

Roush-Fenway Racing were able to rally in the final session to show the rest of the field their muscle ahead of qualifying later on this afternoon. Roush-Fenway drivers Trevor Bayne and Ryan Reed rounded out the top-five of the session with their respective laps of 30.700 and 30.728 seconds. Reed’s fellow rookie Chris Buescher was unable to make it into the top-10 of the session with his lap of 31.270 seconds, Buescher’s fastest lap would set the driver of the No. 60 Ford Ecoboost Mustang in the middle of the field with a lap that was fast enough for 22nd on the speed chart.

Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) slipped from his strong performance last night in the opening practice for tonight’s race, Busch would run the 11th-quickest time in this morning’s session with a lap of 30.907 seconds. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth would run 10th and 19th, respectively, in this morning’s session.

It should be noted that the speeds ran in this morning’s session may not be indicative of the true pace the teams in the garage hold as the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 will be run during nighttime conditions.

Qualifying is up next for the (now) 44 (was 47) teams in the garage. Qualifying is set to take place at 3:40 p.m ET.

Top-10 in Final Practice

  1. 5 – Kevin Harvick(i)* – Chevrolet- JR Motorsports – 30.524 | Leader
  2. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 30.566 | -0.042
  3. 33 – Paul Menard(i)* – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 30.581 | -0.057
  4. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 30.700 | -0.176
  5. 16 – Ryan Reed# – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 30.728 | -0.204
  6. 22 – Brad Keselowski(i) – Ford – Team Penske – 30.735 | -0.211
  7. 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing – 30.762 | -0.238
  8. 12 – Ryan Blaney(i)* – Ford – Team Penske – 30.837 | -0.313
  9. 42 – Kyle Larson(i) – Chevrolet – Turner Scott Motorsports – 30.885 | -0.361
  10. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 30.902 | -0.378

# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Nationwide Series points, * = Must qualify into the race on speed.