Michael McDowell led his Group A practice session Saturday afternoon after he posted a fast lap of 30.129 seconds. Not only did he post a stellar lap time, but he also tallied the second best 10-lap-average in his group, behind only Martin Truex Jr. Truex trailed McDowell in second place in the fast lap column, so the top 2 in the session found the 34 and 19 swapping top accolades on the speed chart.
Ross Chastain clocked in a time one tenth of a second off of the top 2, followed by the 23XI teammates of Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace. 23XI showed good speed at NHMS last year, when they placed both cars inside the top 10 (and Wallace in third). Based on their practice times today, 23XI could be a factor again tomorrow.
Group B experienced a solid amount of falloff as the track heated up. The fastest car in Group B was Christopher Bell, last year’s winner, and his fastest time was over 2 tenths of a second off of McDowell’s fastest at the top of the charts.
Bell’s speed is especially prevalent because he posted the third-fastest 10-lap-average behind only Truex and McDowell, despite the falloff from Group A to B.
Following behind Bell in Group B was Daniel Suarez, fresh off a second place run last week in Atlanta. Suarez is right on the playoff bubble, so a good practice and qualifying session could help provide a shot in the arm to boost the 99 team towards a playoff spot.
Joey Logano was third best in Group B, followed by Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece to fill out the top 5 in that session.
Overall, the session was balanced across the 3 manufacturers. Toyota had 4 cars clock in a top 10 time, and both Chevy and Ford had 3 cars.