Matt Kenseth leads clean opening practice at Dover

Three-time Dover International Speedway winner Matt Kenseth was fastest in first practice at the Monster Mile.

Matt Kenseth leads clean opening practice at Dover

The lame duck driver, who is still looking for a landing pad for 2018, posted the top single-lap speed of 162.550mph. He completed just seven laps in the 85-minute session. 

Kyle Larson, who finished second to Kenseth in 2016 when the No. 20 team posted its last win at the track, was second-fast on Friday (162.023mph) followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez. 

There was no big rush to get the party started on the Monster Mile on Friday morning. David Ragan posted the first lap just before the four-minute mark. He set the early pace of 153.919mph (23.389-sec.). Kasey Kahne was second on the track and his third lap produced a time of 23.521-seconds (153.055mph). Just after seven minutes, Keselowski posted the fastest lap (154.044mph) in his initial run. Harvick topped him with a speed of 156.644mph. Ryan Blaney joined the session after eight minutes. He was third-quick (155.280mph). 

After 10 minutes, 11 cars had set speeds. Trevor Bayne jumped up to second with his lap of 156.060mph. Keselowski, Blaney, Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Ragan, Paul Menard and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10. 

Kurt Busch vaulted to P1 after 12-minutes with a lap of 156.331mph. Jamie McMurray’s first lap was 10th-quick (154.839mph). The No. 48 Chevy was the next car to the top of the chart with a lap 159.652mph, but the 11-time Dover winner improved to 160.635mph on Lap 2. 

Fifteen minutes into first practice, Johnson held onto the top spot followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose best lap was 157.185mph after six circuits. 

“I feel like we checked all the boxes,” “I like the balance a lot. We land a little tight but once it gets through landing it gets off real good — center off.”

Daniel Suarez first two-lap run was second-quick (159.737mph) before 18-minutes on the board. Three-time winner Ryan Newman (159.081mph) ran third followed by Truex (158.541mph), Harvick, Earnhardt, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch. 

Just before 20-minutes in, Denny Hamlin climbed to P2 (159.986mph) on his first lap. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (159.808mph) and Suarez were bumped to third and fourth followed by Newman, Truex, Harvick, Earnhardt, Elliott and Kurt Busch. Thirty-five drivers had completed one lap with the playoff contenders running first (Johnson) through 24th (McMurray). 

Kyle Busch was the next driver to break into the top-five speeds. Busch’s best time was 22.413-seconds (160.621mph) after two laps. Twenty-five minutes into the 85-minute session, 37 drivers completed at least one lap. 

Johnson continued to lead the session 30-minutes into first practice followed Kyle Busch, Newman (160.007mph), Hamlin, Kenseth, Suarez, Truex, Harvick, Clint Bowyer (157.350mph) and Kyle Larson (157.295mph) after a 10-lap run. Earnhardt, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Stenhouse, Blaney, Michael McDowell, Kahne, Bayne, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 20. 

Forty cars had completed a lap 35-minutes into practice. David Ragan jumped back into the top 10 with a lap of 158.200mph. Bayne’s 22 laps were the most completed. On a mock qualifying run, Earnhardt moved up to P3 with a lap of 160.531mph. Newman dropped to fourth followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Kenseth, Suarez, Truex and Ragan. 

Larson bumped Johnson just after 50-minutes in with a lap of 162.023mph. Kyle Busch was third followed by Earnhardt, Kenseth, McMurray, Newman, Keselowski, Truex and Kurt Busch. Hamlin, Bowyer, Suarez, Kahne, Blaney, Ragan, Jones, Buescher and Allmendinger rounded out the top 20. 

NASCAR waved the caution just before the one-hour mark for debris. Blaney had just reported a left-front flat tire prior to the yellow flag. 

After the first hour, Larson remained fastest in single-lap speeds followed by Harvick (161.696mph) Kurt Busch (161.204mph), Johnson, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Kenseth, McMurray, Newman and Keselowski. Hamlin cracked the top-five speeds with a lap of 161.298mph two minutes later. 

With 15-minutes remaining in the session, Suarez returned to the top-five with a speed of 161.240 for fourth. Kurt Busch dropped to fifth followed by Johnson. Johnson cruised up to second with a lap of 162.023mph. Harvick fell to third. Truex (161.464mph), Hamlin, Suarez, Kurt Busch, Earnhardt, Kyle Busch and Kenseth rounded out the top 10 with 10-minutes to go. 

Kenseth topped Larson with a lap of 162.550mph in the final seven minutes. Kyle Busch climbed to fourth (161.980mph). Harvick, Elliott, Truex, Hamlin, Suarez and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10. On Kurt Busch’s final mock Q-run, he rolled back up to sixth (161.660mph). 

1 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 7 22.147     162.550
2 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 16 22.219 0.072 0.072 162.023
3 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 8 22.219 0.072 0.000 162.023
4 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 7 22.225 0.078 0.006 161.980
5 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 17 22.264 0.117 0.039 161.696
6 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 10 22.269 0.122 0.005 161.660
7 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 25 22.283 0.136 0.014 161.558
8 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 11 22.296 0.149 0.013 161.464
9 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 9 22.319 0.172 0.023 161.298
10 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 10 22.327 0.180 0.008 161.240
11 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 12 22.359 0.212 0.032 161.009
12 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 15 22.366 0.219 0.007 160.959
13 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 29 22.426 0.279 0.060 160.528
14 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 13 22.446 0.299 0.020 160.385
15 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 17 22.450 0.303 0.004 160.356
16 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 16 22.457 0.310 0.007 160.306
17 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 16 22.513 0.366 0.056 159.908
18 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 16 22.515 0.368 0.002 159.893
19 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 20 22.548 0.401 0.033 159.659
20 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 10 22.597 0.450 0.049 159.313
21 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 10 22.610 0.463 0.013 159.222
22 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 23 22.628 0.481 0.018 159.095
23 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 14 22.652 0.505 0.024 158.926
24 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 22 22.656 0.509 0.004 158.898
25 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 8 22.679 0.532 0.023 158.737
26 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 20 22.684 0.537 0.005 158.702
27 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 10 22.684 0.537 0.000 158.702
28 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 16 22.708 0.561 0.024 158.534
29 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 15 22.784 0.637 0.076 158.006
30 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 29 22.802 0.655 0.018 157.881
31 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 12 22.841 0.694 0.039 157.611
32 83 united_states Brett Moffitt  Toyota 6 23.084 0.937 0.243 155.952
33 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 19 23.186 1.039 0.102 155.266
34 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 17 23.342 1.195 0.156 154.228
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 19 23.616 1.469 0.274 152.439
36 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 20 23.722 1.575 0.106 151.758
37 66 united_states Timmy Hill  Chevrolet 5 23.779 1.632 0.057 151.394
38 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Toyota 11 23.975 1.828 0.196 150.156
39 51 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 9 24.109 1.962 0.134 149.322
40 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 23 24.202 2.055 0.093 148.748
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