Matt Kenseth rose to the top of the chart Friday in opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway.
Kenseth, a three-time Dover winner, guided the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota to a best lap of 162.550 mph around the 1-mile concrete track.
Drivers involved in the NASCAR Playoffs swept the top nine spots. There was a tie for the second-fastest spot between Kyle Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson’ Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet with identical 162.023 mph speeds.
Johnson topped the leaderboard early in the 85-minute session before settling in behind Kenseth’s lap. He holds the all-time record with 11 career wins at the “Monster Mile.”
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick completed the top five in preparation for Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM).
Sunday’s event marks the last of three races in the playoff opening Round of 16. The Dover race will whittle the field to 12 championship-eligible drivers, eliminating the bottom four from the NASCAR Playoffs grid.
Rookie Daniel Suarez was fastest among the drivers ineligible for the championship, turning the 10th-fastest lap at 161.240 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota.
Coors Light Pole Qualifying to determine the 40-car starting lineup is scheduled for Friday at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App).