Larson, Keselowski Lead Kentucky Practices

by June 27, 2014

SPARTA, Ky. — If there are two drivers to point the finger at as being drivers to watch for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) would likely be considered as favorites due to their practice pace.

Larson, Keselowski, and Brian Vickers (Michael Waltrip Racing) led this morning’s opening practice session with Larson perching his No. 42 Target SS on top of the scoring pylon with a lap of 29.420 seconds while Keselowski and Vickers would run laps of 29.647 seconds to place second and third behind the rookie. Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jamie McMurray, would also run a strong lap of 29.782 seconds to run fourth in this morning’s 90-minute session.

Stewart-Haas Racing drivers would sweep positions five through eight as Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick would run in that order. Stewart would lead his drivers with his lap of 29.787 seconds while Patrick would bring up the rear of the SHR train with her lap of 29.931 seconds.

Hendrick Motorsports had a relatively dismal first practice session in comparison to the form the team have been in as of late. Kasey Kahne would be the pace-setter for the team with his lap of 29.999 seconds, quick enough for 10th. The rest of his teammates would run within the top-10 in the morning with Dale Earnhardt Jr. running 14th with Jeff Gordon right behind him in 15th, defending series champion Jimmie Johnson would post the 18th-quickest lap time.

In the afternoon’s 80-minute final practice session, it would be Keselowski that would set the pace with a lap of 29.492 seconds. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth – a former winner at Kentucky, like Keselowski – would run second-quickest to the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Fusion with his lap of 29.620 seconds. Larson would run slightly off the pace from his first practice speed but would still run a quick time of 29.656 seconds to place third on the speed chart.

Kenseth led the charge for Joe Gibbs Racing in a session that would place all three of their drivers in the top-10. All three JGR drivers were absent from the top-10 of the morning session with Denny Hamlin being outside of the top-20. The trio would perform well with more sunlight on the track as Kyle Busch would run the ninth-fastest lap while Hamlin would improve to tenth.

Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers were unable to improve their speed in final practice, Kahne would drop to 15th while Earnhardt and Johnson would slip to 19th and 27th, respectively. Gordon would provide HMS with their sole highlight of the afternoon with his run that would place him fourth on the speed chart with a time of 29.680 seconds.

Top-10 Speeds in First Practice

  1. 42 – Kyle Larson# – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing – 29.420 | Leader
  2. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske – 29.647 | -0.227
  3. 55 – Brian Vickers – Toyota – Michael Waltrip Racing – 29.647 | -0.227
  4. 1 – Jamie McMurray – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing – 29.782 | -0.362
  5. 14 – Tony Stewart – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.787 | -0.367
  6. 41 – Kurt Busch – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.803 | -0.383
  7. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.874 | -0.454
  8. 10 – Danica Patrick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.931 | -0.511
  9. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske – 29.983 | -0.563
  10. 5 – Kasey Kahne – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 29.999 | -0.579

Top-10 Speeds in Final Practice

  1. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske – 29.492 | Leader
  2. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 29.620 | -0.128
  3. 42 – Kyle Larson# – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing – 29.656 | -0.164
  4. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports – 29.680 | -0.188
  5. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske – 29.723 | -0.231
  6. 10 – Danica Patrick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.754 | -0.262
  7. 47 – A.J. Allmendinger – Chevrolet – JTG Daugherty Racing – 29.813 | -0.321
  8. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing – 29.857 | -0.365
  9. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 29.863 | -0.371
  10. 11 – Denny Hamlin – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing – 29.885 | -0.393

# = Rookie.