Coors Light Pole winner Kyle Busch backed up his show of speed in Friday qualifying by leading Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice at Chicagoland Speedway.
Busch propelled the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota to a best lap of 180.252 mph in the 50-minute final session. He’ll lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), the first event in the 10-race Playoffs for NASCAR’s top division.
Austin Dillon posted the second-fastest lap at 179.438 mph in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski, who provoked a social-media war of words with Busch this weekend, was third-fastest (179.289) in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford.
Chase Elliott completed a sweep of the top four positions by Playoff-eligible drivers. Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five as the fastest driver ineligible for the championship. Playoff-qualified drivers took 11 of the top 13 spots.
A sizable number of time deductions impacted Monster Energy Series final practice (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports App) as a result of multiple failed technical inspections from last week’s event at Richmond and Friday’s preliminaries at Chicagoland.
Five teams were forced to sit out 30 of the 50 minutes, including the playoff-eligible Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet of seven-time series champ Jimmie Johnson and the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota of Matt Kenseth. The other 30-minute holds were the No. 19 Toyota of rookie Daniel Suarez, the No. 77 Toyota of rookie Erik Jones and the No. 43 Ford of Aric Almirola.
Ten other teams have incurred 15-minute holds for final practice, including regular-season champion Truex Jr. The full list:
- Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford of Kevin Harvick
- Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne
- Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon
- Team Penske No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano
- GoFas Racing No. 32 Ford of Matt DiBenedetto
- Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford of Kurt Busch
- JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet of AJ Allmendinger
- Furniture Row No. 78 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr.
- Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet of Michael McDowell
Truex tops in Saturday’s early practice
RELATED: Practice 2 results
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champion Martin Truex Jr. led Saturday’s opening practice at Chicagoland Speedway, guiding his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota around the 1.5-mile track at 180.650 mph.
Truex Jr. led a group of NASCAR Playoffs drivers who dominated all but one spot in the top 10 on the speed chart.
Ryan Blaney was second in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford at 179.802 mph.
Chase Elliott was third in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 179.689 mph. Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford and Ryan Newman in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet rounded out the top five.
Aric Almirola, the only driver not in the Playoffs in the top 10, was sixth-fastest in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
Pole-sitter Kyle Busch, who topped Friday’s first practice, was 10th at 178.312 mph.