NASCAR: Keselowski paces opening Martinsville practice
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
Brad Keselowski might have been eliminated from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but the No. 2 still has speed.
Keselowski paced opening practice Saturday morning at Martinsville Speedway with a lap of 95.714mph. Satisfied with his Ford, Keselowski ended the session early.
Playoff drivers and brothers Kurt Busch (95.646mph) and Kyle Busch (95.593mph) were second and third fastest. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner of the First Data 500. Completing the top five were Ryan Blaney (95.357mph) and Aric Almirola (95.256mph).
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Martin Truex Jr. (95.256mph), Clint Bowyer (95.137mph), Denny Hamlin (95.127mph), Erik Jones (94.979mph), and AJ Allmendinger (94.746mph) were the rest of the top 10. Bowyer enters Martinsville as the most recent winner, snapping his five-year winless drought at the half-mile in the spring.
There were no significant incidents in the session, which was 50 minutes in length. However, debris briefly halted the proceedings around the 35-minute mark when Almirola suffered a mechanical failure with the right-front tire. The tire could be seen visibly shaking as if the No. 10 car because of what turned out to be a broken tire rod. The team told NBC Sports no other damage was done to the car.
Three drivers served 15-minute holds at the end of practice for failing pre-race inspection last weekend at Kansas Speedway — Jamie McMurray, Jeb Burton and Alex Bowman.
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ABOUT KELLY CRANDALL
Kelly has been on the NASCAR beat full-time since 2013, and joined RACER as chief NASCAR writer in 2017. Her work has also appeared in NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Illustrated magazine, and NBC Sports. A corporate communications graduate from Central Penn College, Crandall is a two-time George Cunningham Writer of the Year recipient from the National Motorsports Press Association.