By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by Kyle Larson led the way during Friday morning’s pre-qualifying practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Larson ran five laps at the 1.5-mile circuit, eking out last week’s winner Kevin Harvick by 0.037 seconds with a lap time of 28.323 seconds, 190.658 mph.
“This year, after having the test and after having the year we had last year that really helps your confidence,” said Larson ahead of the 55 minute session. “We know coming here this weekend that we will be fast or should hopefully be fast, but you still have to execute. Yeah, we had a really good test. We made the car better throughout the two days. Our race trim runs were really good and then our mock qualifying run we made there at the end was fast as well. We will stick to qualifying trim all day today, which is nice. You know you are going to have a good balance in race trim, so you can just work on qualifying trim today and try and qualify as good as you can for later tonight.”
Alongside Larson and Harvick, four other drivers (Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, William Byron and Erik Jones) hit the 190 mph barrier and the top-six were separated by less than a tenth of a second.
Busch was the fastest among five drivers who served a 15-minute penalty at the end of practice. The other four were teammate Denny Hamlin (10th fastest), Hendrick Motorsports drivers Alex Bowman (21st) and Chase Elliott (9th) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (36th).
Defending race winner Martin Truex, Jr. clocked in 11th fastest with a time of 28.555 seconds (189.109 mph), 0.232 seconds slower than Larson.
Rick Ware Racing driver Cole Custer ran his first eight laps as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver. However, he was 31st fastest among 37 drivers with a time of 29.184 seconds, 0.861 seconds behind Larson.
Custer is guaranteed a spot for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400.
Friday’s session is the only time the drivers hit the track before fighting for the pole at 7:15pm EST.
Brad Keselowski, who was seventh fastest this morning, is the defending pole winner after qualifying at 193.680 mph (27.881 seconds).