Martin Truex Jr. fastest in hectic Clash practice in Los Angeles
Saturday was the first time NASCAR Cup Series teams were able to get on the ¼-mile made-from-scratch asphalt oval created inside the Coliseum for the preseason exhibition race on Sunday.
Because of the small size of the track, the sessions were split into three groups of 12 cars each and each group got three 8-minute sessions on the track.
Truex’s session-best average lap speed of 67.360 mph was set early and ended up better than last year’s top speed in practice, which was set by Chase Elliott (66.889 mph).
Bubba Wallace ended up second-fastest (67.309 mph), Chase Briscoe third (67.249 mph) and Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney tied for fourth (67.214 mph).
Near the end of Group 3’s second session, flames erupted in the cockpit of Ty Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota with a fire that appeared to come from the rocker box area and likely started from rubber buildup.
That was an area NASCAR addressed in the offseason with changes in hopes of eliminating the issue.
The damage was mostly cosmetic with the biggest change the replacement of the windshield.
In Group 2’s final practice, Briscoe and A.J. Allmendinger traded fenders with Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford eventually sent nose-first into the Turn 4 wall.
In Group 3’s final practice, Joey Logano – who won the event last season – spun off Turn 2 in the opening minutes but his No. 22 Ford did not appear to suffer any damage.
Rounding out the top-10 speeds were Gibbs, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Todd Gilliland and Justin Haley.
Among those drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps, Wallace had the fastest average lap speed of 66.950 mph. Briscoe and Truex were second and third, respectively, in that category.