Kurt Busch Ends Final Practice at Sonoma on Top of the Leaderboard

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

SONOMA, California — Kurt Busch wasted no time during Friday’s final practice at Sonoma Raceway, scorching the fastest time of the session at 76.163 seconds (94.061 mph), edging Denny Hamlin by 0.040 seconds.

Martin Truex, Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Trevor Bayne, Aric Almirola, and Michael McDowell rounded out the top-10.

Bayne, who was in the bottom eighth during morning practice, drastically improved this session and ended up eighth quickest. Sonoma marks Bayne’s his first start since Dover in May.

With temperatures rising up to 95 degrees, tempers flared between Parker Kligerman and Michael McDowell. During the final minutes of the session, McDowell was disheartened about Kligerman’s driving, and swerved to his right entering Turn 11.

The problem became hostile as McDowell was able to blend into the pits, but Kligerman wasn’t as able to find easy access, and stirred a near disastrous ending.

As Kligerman ducked down into the pits at a slow pace, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Cole Whitt were still at fast pace, causing a dangerous situation where Kligerman could’ve been plowed by the three drivers, notably McMurray who had to serpentine by the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota Camry.

Neither driver involved in the fiasco sustained serious damage, and made it back into the pits in one piece.

Both William Byron and Kyle Larson had separate leakages, which stopped the session early in the 75-minute practice session.

Larson reported of having oil problems while Byron had an axle failure. Entering the garage, the left rear window of Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS ZL1 began smoking, but moments later repaired the damage and resumed, ending his session 25th. Larson was also able to run more practice laps and ended up 14th fastest.

Despite setting the third fastest time, the 2013 race winner also had a chaotic session. Going into Turns 8A and 8B, Truex ran into the back of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, causing the front nose of Truex’s No. 78 5 Hour Energy/Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry to be damaged, requiring repair work going into tomorrow’s Busch Pole Qualifying at 2:45 p.m. EST.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a two-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.