Headlines from Sonoma practices
Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks with Team Chevy's Jennifer Stroupe post-final practice at Sonoma Raceway Friday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

By Dominic Aragon and Isabel Gonzalez
June 25, 2016

SONOMA, Calif.—The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ two scheduled practice sessions Friday at Sonoma Raceway ended with two Team Chevy drivers atop the leaderboards.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray paced first practice for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with times of 75.299 and 75.774 respectively.

With a time of 75.175, Dale Earnhardt Jr. topped the practice charts in happy hour. Kyle Busch, the defending Sonoma race winner, placed 14th in the first practice and fifth in the final practice.

Kyle Larson practices for the Toyota Save/Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Friday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

The 2015 champion gave his take on whom might be the drivers to beat come Sunday. “I would say Kurt Busch is really good,” he said to The Racing Experts. “He’s always fast here, I don’t know what he does, but he’s always fast here, he’s got it figured out. Past him, I’d say that Kyle Larson looks pretty decent honestly and Dale [Earnhardt] Jr., he has a really fast car right now.” Joey Logano, who placed tenth in first practice and 16th in final practice, assessed his first practice session with the media Friday. “Sonoma is still Sonoma,” he said to The Racing Experts. “Nothing has changed. We’re still fighting for some rear grip in our race car. I feel like we’ve made some gains since the last time we were here, which is great. Are we where we need to be yet. “I don’t think so, but I think we’re a top-five or top-six car right now, which at this point last year during practice I’d say I was 15th to 20th-place car, so we’ve made some gains for sure. “We’ve got another practice that I think we can definitely make our car a little bit better and work on qualifying trim.” Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fastest lap in Friday’s final practice, a pick up of 69 100ths from his first practice speed (fourth overall). His second lap was the fastest with an average time of 75.175 seconds at an average speed of 95.298 mph. “Right off the truck, man, we were really fast,” Earnhardt Jr. said on a statement. Earnhardt Jr. finished the first practice of the day in fourth place with a time of 75.866 seconds at a speed of 94.498 mph.  He ran a total of 26 laps during this practice session. “Throughout the whole first practice we did a lot of race trim,” he said. “The car was incredibly quick. I have never had a car this good here. I was just so proud of the guys.” Earnhardt said that although he doesn’t think he is “terrible” at road courses, he does not consider himself the best road course racer either. “I’m not going to say we’ve got the pole, because we didn’t get to see what everybody has, but some of those guys will get up there and put some laps down,” he said. Earnhardt told the media his team would consider it a successful weekend if they could finish inside the top-ten or top-five finish on Sunday. He said this would be possible as long there were no surprises. “If we have everything go our way on pit road and I don’t make too many mistakes out on the race track we should be in good shape,” he said.

Casey Mears placed second, 0.034 behind Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin finished third, 0.043 behind in the final practice. Kyle Busch finished in fifth place, 0.121 behind the leader.

Thanks to Team Chevy.

Casey Mears practices for the Toyota Save/Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Friday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

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