Posted 09/01/2012 at 07:13 PM
Matt Kenseth was fastest in Saturday’s final practice session in preparation for Sunday night’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kenseth’s lap of 180.863 mph was laid down early in the 50-minute session, continuing what has been a great day of practice. In Saturday’s early session Kenseth was second fastest.
Jeff Gordon was second fastest (180.193) and has to be brimming with hope that his final practice leads to his sixth Atlanta win, but more importantly, getting his second win of the season that will virtually guarantee himself a spot in the Chase. Gordon is currently 16-points behind Kyle Busch in the Chase for the 12th and final position. Both drivers have one win a piece with two races to go. Next week at Richmond, Kyle will be one of the favorites to win.
Denny Hamlin had the third fastest lap (179.959) and looks to have one of the strongest cars at the track this weekend. His car on the long runs has been a notch above everyone else.
Kyle Busch came in fourth on the charts (179.837), but didn’t run many laps in the session due to slapping the wall. No back-up car was needed as the crew banged it back into shape. 15 laps was the smallest amount run among the drivers who actually are planning to race on Sunday. He’s got Gordon breathing down his neck in the Chase, but looks to have some speed that might make him a contender. Based on how well he ran on Atlanta’s sister track at Charlotte in May, he figures to be in the mix late competing for the win.
Greg Biffle continued his strong weekend run with the fifth fastest lap at 179.481 mph. In the day's earlier session Biffle was the fastest.
Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10.
A few notable drivers that finished 20th or worse in the session were Dale Earnhardt Jr (20th), Jimmie Johnson (21st) and Kasey Kahne (28th).
28 drivers ran 10-consecutive laps or more with Jeff Gordon having the best average. Hamlin, Keselowski and Kenseth were next in the category.
Kurt Busch ran the most laps (50) followed by Jeff Burton (49) and Truex Jr. (48).
Since Danica Patrick is running this race, I suppose I’ll mention she ran 30 laps with the 38th fastest, or fifth slowest among the 42 drivers that took a lap.