Jul 25, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Kenseth took the first step towards his first win of 2014 – and his first career win in the Brickyard 400 – recording the fastest speed in Friday’s sole Sprint Cup practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kenseth, who was one of only two drivers over 186 mph (186.285 mph), has struggled to reach victory lane this season after earning a series-high seven wins in 2013.
“I felt like we had a really good hour-and-a-half,” Kenseth said. “It was productive, so one of our goals was to get a good lap in case it does rain tomorrow, they always go off first practice speeds and we’ve been bit by that this year.
“We wanted to try to lay down a lap early when the track was as good as it could be and we were able to do that in case there is bad weather for qualifying, then we just worked hard on race trim the whole time. Felt like we got through a lot of stuff. Felt like we gained a lot. I feel like we’re closer than we’ve been in a long time in balance and in speed. Still have a lot of work to do tomorrow, but I felt pretty good about today.”
His 24-lap effort Friday could be more important than just a routine practice session. Heavy thunderstorms are predicted for Saturday, and the second Cup practice is slated to go off between 9 and 11 am ET, followed by qualifying from 2:10 pm to 3:45 pm ET.
If Saturday’s practice and qualifying are washed out, the qualifying field for Sunday’s race would be based upon Friday’s practice session speeds.
Clint Bowyer was the second-fastest in Friday’s session at 186.070 mph, followed by Brad Keselowski (185.939), four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson (185.647) and Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson (185.445).
Tony Stewart, seeking his third Brickyard victory and first win of 2014, was 11th-fastest (183.793), followed by Ryan Newman (183.587), Brian Vickers (183.307), four-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon (182.408) and Kasey Kahne was 15th-fastest (182.290).
The rest of the field was:
21 Trevor Bayne 181.477
22 Ryan Truex 181.283
23 Michael Annett 181.061
24 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 180.937
25 Paul Menard 180.897
26 Martin Truex Jr. 180.636
27 Denny Hamlin 180.166
28 Juan Pablo Montoya 180.144
29 Brett Moffitt 180.040
30 David Ragan 179.971
31 Greg Biffle 179.842
32 Jamie McMurray 179.194
33 Michael McDowell 179.019
34 Casey Mears 178.923
35 Justin Allgaier 178.593
36 AJ Allmendinger 178.398
37 Travis Kvapil 177.725
38 David Stremme 177.438
39 Reed Sorenson 177.284
40 Landon Cassill 177.050
41 Bobby Labonte 176.025
42 Josh Wise 175.771
43 Alex Bowman 175.524
44 David Gilliland 175.022
45 Cole Whitt 174.132
46 Matt Crafton 173.444
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