Next Stop… Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 the third race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series and the second weekend for NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package. Teams had a pair of practice sessions on Thursday with Jimmie Johnson posting the fastest overall speed of 192.981 miles per hour. Aric Almirola, Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth completed the top five. Joey Logano had the fastest average speed over ten consecutive laps, 187.604 miles per hour.
Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, failed to crack the top ten in either of Thursday’s two sessions. In last year’sKobalt 400, Harvick started eighteenth and finished first. Jeff Gordon started first and finished eighteenth.
Hamlin hit the wall during Thursday afternoon’s test session. His Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing team will use a back-up Toyota this weekend. Teams will get ninety more minutes of practice today before qualifying late this afternoon. Kasey Kahne has the track record for poles with three, one ahead of Kyle Busch – who’s the only Cup Series driver to win a race in Vegas after starting from the pole position. That victory came in 2009.
Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at L-V-M-S, including a run of three straight from 2005 through 2007.
He’s coming off his seventy-sixth career win last weekend in Atlanta, which tied the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh place on NASCAR’s all-time list. The last driver with back-to-back wins in the Sprint Cup Series is Logano, who put three victories in a row together during last year’s post-season Chase.