Homestead, Fla – The final two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions of the 2017 season occurred on Saturday from the Homestead-Miami Speedway. In those sessions, one thing became clear, Denny Hamlin has the car to beat in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN).
Hamlin, topped the speed charts in the first of two 55-minute practices on Saturday morning with a speed of 171.130 mph in his No. 11 Toyota. On Friday, Hamlin was fifth quickest in the lone practice session of the day and backed that speed up with winning the pole for tomorrow’s season finale in South Florida.
On top of that though, Hamlin set the quickest pace on the 5-lap as well as the 10-lap average charts. Mix that with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver having four straight top 10 finishes at the 1.5-mile Miami track, including a win in 2013 and an average finishing spot of 10.58, then it’s clear to see Hamlin is the favorite.
Second in the initial session this morning was Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he turned a lap of 170.681 mph in his No. 88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt, blew an engine in Friday’s practice and will have to start in the rear on Sunday. Despite that, he still made a qualifying attempt and qualified 24th. While he has good short run speed, Earnhardt said that he has to make some big changes to get more speed out of his car on long runs.
Martin Truex Jr. was third fastest on Saturday morning topping the track at a speed of 170.020 mph in his No. 78 Toyota. Kurt Busch (169.545 mph) and Kasey Kahne (168.972 mph) were fourth and fifth respectively.
Brad Keselowski (10th), Kyle Busch (16th) and Kevin Harvick (17th) were the Championship 4 drivers on the speed charts.
In final practice, Truex topped the speed charts with a speed of 171.195 mph. He was the only Championship 4 contender in the top five in the final session.
Clint Bowyer (169.790 mph), Hamlin (169.714 mph), Erik Jones (169.721 mph) and Ryan Blaney (169.550 mph) were second through fifth respectively.
Busch (6th), Keselowski (11th) and Harvick (17th) rounded out the Championship 4 in the final session.