By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – In final practice for the Monster Energy All-Star race, Kyle Larson topped the speed charts with a blistering fast lap of 28.630 seconds. Larson’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS laid down a speed of 189.274 mph on the softer ‘option’ tires.
Kevin Harvick was second fastest, just 0.027 seconds off Larson’s time. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex, Jr. rounded out the top five in practice.
Last year’s winner of the All-Star race, Joey Logano, was the slowest of the 16 drivers eligible. Logano was just over seven tenths off Larson’s quick time.
The practice session was not without incident as Larson, Busch, and Denny Hamlin all spun. Both Larson and Busch avoided any significant damage. Hamlin, however hit the outside wall with the right rear causing enough damage to force his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry team to a back-up car.
Hamlin was confused as to how to explain the incident.
“I have no idea,” said Hamlin. “It was so weird. I left pit road out of the garage. I went up through the gears through (turns) one and two, pulled up on the race track – the car just, it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right at all. I went into turn three a little bit hesitant to try to just see what was going on with the car and it just – it was backwards as soon as I let out of the gas. Really weird. Not really sure. It’s almost like the left-side air pressure is in the right. We put back on our race-trim tires that we had practiced on so they should’ve been fine. I don’t know. It’s definitely something out of sorts.”
Now Hamlin’s team will have to scramble to prep their back-up car with only a few hours before qualifying for the Monster Energy All-Star race.