Posted 05/04/2012 at 03:37 PM
Aric Almirola captured the fastest speed in Friday’s first practice session at Talladega Superspeedway going 199.172 mph. The fast lap came within the first five minutes of the 45 minute session amongst a pack of cars that all set top speeds as well.
The biggest dilemma for all the teams is trying to keeps their cars cool, which allows for each driver to get, maybe, five laps in while tucked in behind a car before the radiator starts to heat up. Because of trying to keep cool, several drivers moved in and out from behind a car, nearly clipping the driver in front in and around turns. Kyle Busch looked as though he was going to wreck Joey Logano several times as he tried to keep his car cool.
When these cars raced at Daytona in February -- remember, the race was at night, a very cool night -- the drivers got away with a lot more than they can now just because of the hot Alabama sun.
The individual lap times of the drivers don’t hold the same weight they do for other races just because each driver’s time is dependant upon two or three other drivers. When teams try their mock qualifying attempts in the final practice today, those times will be irrelevant as well, because no car will ever be by themselves during the race.
It’s kind of a waste of time to even discuss who or why a driver might be fast in these practices. The bottom line is that anyone can win this race. Nothing that happens in practice will help formulate an early opinion like can be done with other tracks. Not that Almirola's speed should be diminished or dismissed as a candidate to win, because he could win, but it just doesn't tell enough of the story.
The best thing that happened in today’s practice was Kurt Busch sporting a ‘Talladega Nights’ theme on his car with a Cougar on the hood, the word ‘Me’ on the side panels and hood, along with ’I Wanna go Fast’ painted on the rear. It was an awesome look, just too bad that isn’t their sponsor as they are still searching for support. Busch finished with the 18th fastest lap at 196.278 mph.
Practice 1 Top-5 Speeds:
1) Aric Almirola 199.172
2) Michael Waltrip 198.343
3) Matt Kenseth 197.986
4) Jeff Gordon 197.843
5) Kevin Harvick 197.725