Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP Inc.

Fords Fast in First Texas Cup Practice, Engine Troubles Plague Byron

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

It was another case of déjà vu at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon as Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford continued to show off their speed in the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice of the weekend.

Three of the four Stewart-Haas cars, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer led the way for the Blue Oval brigade, with Busch’s fast time of 27.523 seconds, 196.200 mph topping the board.

“(Turns) three and four are an incredible sensation,” Kurt Busch said of the Texas reconfiguration now in its second year. “Once the car goes into the banking, it travels. The suspension collapses in the car and the car gets lower to the ground and picks up speed because you are lower to the ground and have less drag. It is a sensation that is hard to describe. When you have that grip level in the car, it gives you the feeling that you can just put it down to the floor and there won’t be any consequences.

“Turns one and two are where I think the lap times come from – if you can get it to hook and stay right on the bottom because that end of the track is a lot flatter. You have to back out of the gas all the way. Then, in three and four, you can hold it wide open. Both ends of the track are very different. It is a cool sensation going through three and four almost holding it wide open.”

Busch’s younger brother, Kyle, timed in fourth fastest in his Toyota, with Ryan Blaney in another Ford clocking in fifth.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, and Martin Truex, Jr. would round out the top-10.

While practice went well for those drivers, it was the exact opposite for rookie William Byron, who would finish the 55-minute session in 33rd place. To add insult to injury, Byron’s No. 24 team discovered an engine issue during practice and later announced that they would have to swap engines as a result.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.