Photo: Chris Owens/ASP, Inc.

Final Practice Proves Fast for the Underdogs

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – The final practice for the Food City 500 had several different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers inside the top-10. David Ragan set the fastest lap early in session at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ragan ran a 15.051 second, 127.487 mph lap in the No. 38 The Pete Store Ford Fusion. He out-paced Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott by 0.049 seconds.

Denny Hamlin was third fastest with Kurt Busch fourth fastest. Ragan’s Front Row Motorsports teammate, Michael McDowell was fifth fastest. McDowell earned both his and FRM’s best qualifying effort on a non-restrictor plate track this weekend.

AJ Allmendinger, who crashed in the first practice session was sixth fastest in his repaired car. Busch Pole Winner Kyle Busch was seventh fastest. Kasey Kahne in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was ninth fastest. Kyle Larson who paced the Saturday morning session was 22ndfastest in the final practice session.

Jimmie Johnson, who will start from the rear after a flat tire post-qualifying, was 10thfastest, running a session-high 95 laps. Johnson will have to start from the rear of the field with Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer.

Kevin Harvick was 24thfastest in his No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion. Harvick will start last after a broke suspension piece sent him into the wall in the first practice session of the weekend.

With four minutes left in the practice session, Kurt Busch broke loose and spun into the inside wall. At the same time, Trevor Bayne and Busch’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Bowyer, made contact. Coincidentally, SHR had already taken their back-up cars in preparation for next weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway. Both Busch and Bowyer will join their SHR teammate, Harvick, at the rear of the field on Sunday.

Chad Finchum, who is making his debut for Carl Long’s Motorsports Business Management, did not make a lap in the final practice.

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Seth Eggert has followed NASCAR his entire life. Seth is currently pursuing a writing career and is majoring in Communications and Journalism. He is an avid iRacer and video gamer. Seth also tutors students at Mitchell Community College in multiple subjects. He has an Associate's Degree in History.