A fast lap of 119.074 mph put Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at the top of the leaderboard in Saturday’s final practice at Richmond International Raceway. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader turned 84 laps in the 50-minute session, more than any other driver in the field.
Furniture Row Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. (119.016 mph) and Erik Jones (118.702 mph) were second- and fourth-fastest, respectively. Both drivers have recorded top-five speeds in all three practices (Truex’s No. 78 Toyota led the opening practice, while Jones’ No. 77 Toyota topped the second session).
Sandwiched between the Furniture Row wheelmen in third was Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, whose No. 48 Chevrolet clocked in at 118.801 mph. Johnson’s teammate Chase Elliott rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 118.452 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet.
After battling a car issue in Saturday’s opening session and coming up 31st on the leaderboard, Kurt Busch nabbed the sixth-fastest speed in the field in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford during final practice.
Earlier in the day, Erik Jones wheeled his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at 120.714 mph, nabbing the top spot on the speed charts during Saturday morning’s opening practice at Richmond International Raceway.
The Monster Energy Series rookie, who topped the leaderboard early in the 55-minute session, was second-fastest in Friday’s lone practice to his teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick was second on the leaderboard Saturday, his No. 4 Ford clocking a fast lap of 120.048 mph. Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard was third-fastest (120.005 mph) in his No. 27 Chevrolet, while JTG Daugherty Racing’s Chris Buescher ranked fourth in the field (119.973 mph from his No. 37 Chevrolet). Friday’s practice leader Truex Jr. completed the top five with a 119.941-mph lap in his No. 78 Toyota.
Pole-sitter Matt Kenseth was 11th-fastest in the field in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who announced his retirement from full-time racing after 2017 on Tuesday, was 10th on the leaderboard.
In the middle of the 55-minute session, Kurt Busch radioed his team that he thought his No. 41 Ford was “on seven cylinders” and brought the car into the garage for examination. He returned to the track a little over 20 minutes later and told his team that he thought they “fixed it, whatever it was,” ending the session 31st on the leaderboard.
The following teams were held for the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s opening session due to infractions: No. 1 of Jamie McMurray (failing LIS twice), No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (failing LIS second time through) and No. 21 of Ryan Blaney (failing template twice).