David Ragan, the surprise winner earlier this season at Talladega, was fastest in first practice on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 34 Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts Ford. His lap of 125.322 mph edged out series points leader Jimmie Johnson. Who turned a lap of 125.134 mph in his Lowe’s Chevrolet.
Ragan commented after the session, “You know, Bristol is a track we feel like we can come to as a team and not have to worry about your aero platform and how your valance and sideskirts are sealed off to the racetrack. It’s a lot more mechanical grip and driving the racecar. The racecar seems to have some speed we made some good changes, it was a good qualifying lap we up toward the end of that practice, so we still got some more work to do in race trim in second practice, then we’ll probably try to make another qualifying run. Qualifying is important here, track position means a lot, so you know, I think our Peanut Patch Ford is good, but we certainly have some room for improvement and uh hopefully we can do that in second practice.”
Ragan drives for Front Row Motorsports, a smaller team that is trying to make gains and take that next step to becoming more competitive week in and week out. The win at Talladega and strong performances like this are just what the team needs to attract the attention of a major sponsor that will give them the funding they need to get their cars closer to the front and more consistent.
Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, winner of Wednesday night’s Camping World Truck Series race and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 5 in the first session.
Final practice and qualifying will take place Friday afternoon, with the Irwin Tools Night Race starting at 7:30 Saturday night.