Pole-sitter Kurt Busch was again at the top of the speed charts in Texas, this time in the first of two practice sessions slated for Saturday.
The No. 41 Ford sat atop the leaderboard after 55 minutes with a lap of 191.768 mph. He was followed by the driver who will also start alongside him Sunday afternoon, Denny Hamlin. The quickest of the eight remaining playoff drivers, Hamlin’s best lap was 191.110 mph.
Rounding out the top five were Erik Jones (191.069 mph), Kyle Larson (190.880 mph) and Chase Elliott (190.853 mph). If Elliott is to keep his playoff hopes alive, he must come from 34th after he did not attempt a qualifying lap because of inspection issues. In addition to the fifth fastest time, Elliott ran the most laps in the session at 43.
The rest of the top 10 were Kyle Busch (playoff driver) at 190.725 mph; playoff leader Martin Truex Jr. at 190.449 mph; Ryan Blaney (playoff driver) at 190.422 mph; Daniel Suarez at 190.375 mph and Kasey Kahne at 190.034 mph.
Hamlin and Kyle Busch both set their times after they served 30-minute practice holds.
There were three playoff drivers outside the top 10. Kevin Harvick was 12th fastest at 189.987 mph while Jimmie Johnson, who won at Texas in the spring, was 16th at 189.261 mph. The slowest playoff driver was Brad Keselowski in 23rd.
Daniel Hemric was again behind the wheel of the No. 27 for Richard Childress Racing and was 29th in the session. Paul Menard, whose wife welcomed their second child, is expected to be in the car for final practice and will race on Sunday.
NEXT UP: Final practice at 5 p.m. ET.