Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski fastest in Watkins Glen Practice

by Jordan Groves

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski topped the time sheets in Saturday practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at Watkins Glen International; the second and final road course race of the season. Both sessions were interrupted frequently as multiple drivers suffered spins as they tried to prepare themselves for tomorrow’s race.

Practice One

The first 55-minute practice session for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field was an eventful one. Kyle Busch, fresh from taking his first win of the year last week at Pocono, built upon the momentum of his victory when he arrived at Watkins Glen by putting his #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry on top of the time sheets in practice one.

Kyle lapped the circuit in 1:10.270, which was almost half a second clear of second-placed Martin Truex Jr on a 1:10.675. Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones made it four Toyota Camry’s in the top five in the third and fifth positions respectively, with only Jamie McMurray in the #1 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet able to split them in fourth place.

Team Penske team-mates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano took sixth and seventh; with Logano entering the weekend hoping for a repeat of his victory two years ago in order to secure himself a spot in the playoffs that begin next month. Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne and Michael McDowell completed the top ten in the first session; with the #95 Chevrolet of McDowell just over a second off of the time set by session-leader Kyle Busch.

The session saw a number of drivers struggle to get themselves and their cars acclimatized to the New York state circuit, with several ending up facing the wrong way or in the wall. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick all spun during the session, but Corey Lajoie came off worse when he spun at the top of the Esses and hit the inside wall. Luckily, the BK Racing team assessed the damage and determined the #23 Toyota easily fixable; a lucky escape.

Jimmie Johnson similarly had lady luck on his side after wheel-hopping on the descent into turn one. He just about managed to slow his #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to barely tap the wall with his nose.

NASCAR Cup Series – Watkins Glen Practice One – Top Ten

PosCar #DriverManufacturerBest Time
118Kyle BuschToyota1:10.270
278Martin Truex JrToyota1:10.675
311Denny HamlinToyota1:10.817
41Jamie McMurrayChevrolet1:10.829
577Erik JonesToyota1:10.862
62Brad KeselowskiFord1:10.875
722Joey LoganoFord1:11.004
824Chase ElliottChevrolet1:11.145
95Kasey KahneChevrolet1:11.217
1095Michael McDowellChevrolet1:11.281

Practice Two

Keselowski hit the top of the time sheets in the second and final practice session for the Cup Series. The lap-times continued to fall as the drivers got to grips with the Glen, with the #2 Penske Ford Fusion driver lapping the circuit with a 1:10.067; two-tenths of a second faster than Kyle Busch’s fastest time from the first session.

Kyle’s brother, Kurt Busch, was second fastest in the #41 Stewart-Haas Ford, just one hundredth of a second off of Keselowski’s benchmark. Truex Jr maintained his position from first practice by taking third again, with Clint Bowyer just behind in fourth place ahead of Hamlin in fifth.

Chip Ganassi racing showed pace, with both Kyle Larson and McMurray inside the top ten in sixth and seventh respectively. Chase Elliott followed just behind in eighth, with McDowell again showing decent speed in the #95 Chevrolet in ninth place; if he can carry his speed over into qualifying and the race tomorrow; he could be a dark horse come the end of the race. Practice one pace setter Kyle Busch completed the top ten in the second session.

Boris Said is back behind the wheel of a NASCAR Cup series car for the final time in his career this weekend. The road course ringer, who has raced seventeen times in the Cup Series, is driving the #33 Genesee Brewing Chevrolet this weekend. Sadly, his weekend hasn’t gotten off to a great start, with the 54-year-old wrecking early in the second session. He came into the Bus Stop chicane too hot and had to run through the grass, which in turn tore up the front splitter. He is expected to have to go to a backup car.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series field will now turn their attention to qualifying tomorrow, with the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at the Glen taking place later on in the day.

NASCAR Cup Series – Watkins Glen Practice Two – Top Ten

PosCar #DriverManufacturerBest Time
12Brad KeselowskiFord1:10.067
241Kurt BuschFord1:10.077
378Martin Truex JrToyota1:10.224
414Clint BowyerFord1:10.342
511Denny HamlinToyota1:10.402
642Kyle LarsonChevrolet1:10.409
71Jamie McMurrayChevrolet1:10.429
824Chase ElliottChevrolet1:10.478
995Michael McDowellChevrolet1:10.515
1018Kyle BuschToyota1:10.613

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