Hampton, GA – It was an extremely busy day for NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. There wasn’t one, not two but three practice sessions 1.54-mile Georgia track on Friday in preparation for the second race of the 2017 season. These were the lone three practice sessions of the weekend though, as the Rinnai 250 (2 p.m. ET/FS1/PRN) will take place on Saturday afternoon. The only other action for these cars tomorrow is qualifying at 9:15 am ET.
The first session though was much different than the other two. The 55-minute practice was run at 10 am this morning which saw most of the drivers sit out or wait until the final half hour of the session to take to the track.
The cooler morning temps and lack of rubber on the track forced the drivers to wait it out in the garage as these temps are no where close to what the temperatures will be tomorrow for the race.
But, in that first session, Aric Almirola led the way in his No. 98 Ford with a lap of 181.372 mph. Defending race winner Kyle Busch was second quick with a speed of 181.194 mph in his No. 18 Toyota while Kevin Harvick was third overall with a lap of 180.775 mph in his No. 41 Ford.
Another Cup driver in Brad Keselowski was fourth fastest (180.757 mph) while rookie Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top five with a speed of 180.070 mph.
In the much busier second session, rookie Daniel Hemric led the way in this 55-minute long practice with a speed of 179.621 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet. Hemric, was 16th quickest in the first session.
Almirola, backed up his fast time in the first session and turned the second fastest lap in session No. 2 with a lap of 178.827 mph. Another rookie in Cole Custer who was seventh fastest in session 1 was third overall in the second practice with a speed of 178.608 mph in his No. 00 Chevrolet giving two rookies in the top three on the speed charts in the middle session of the day.
Keselowski (178.287 mph) was fourth again with Darrell Wallace Jr. rounding out the top five (177.989 mph).
Fords were quick again in this practice, as they had five cars in the top six on the speed charts. That comes after having three of the top four speeds and five in the top seven in session No. 1.
We also had our first practice incident of the season, as Brandon Jones got into the outside SAFER barrier in this session forcing his team to roll off the backup car for the rest of the race weekend.
In a clean final practice, the last two drivers to land in victory lane in XFINITY Series action at Atlanta were 1-2. Kyle Busch led the way with a speed of 179.528 mph in his No. 18 Toyota while Harvick was second overall with a speed of 179.261 mph in the final session. Harvick, won three straight years from 2013-2015 while Busch won a year ago.
Almriola, who was first and second respectively in the first two sessions, was third in final practice with a speed of 179.035 mph.
Denny Hamlin (178.971 mph) and Hemric (178.971 mph) rounded out the top five. Both turned the exact same speed.