Suarez leads opening Pocono practice

Image by Russell LaBounty/LAT

Suarez leads opening Pocono practice

NASCAR

Suarez leads opening Pocono practice

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Daniel Suarez and William Byron were the fastest in the first of two practice sessions at Pocono Raceway. Suarez led the way at 172.516 mph (52.169 seconds). Byron’s best lap was 172.404 mph.

Completing the top five were Aric Almirola at 172.401 mph, Martin Truex Jr. at 172.387 mph, and Clint Bowyer at 172.061 mph. The rest of the top 10 were Erik Jones at 171.543 mph, Denny Hamlin at 171.008 mph, Kyle Busch at 170.694 mph, and Matt DiBenedetto at 170.642 mph. Busch is the defending race winner.

Like last weekend in New Hampshire, the story of practice, however, was drivers finding trouble. Twice the session was halted for accidents.

Kyle Larson crashed off the Tunnel Turn less than 10 minutes into opening practice. Larson, who said he needs to stop being stupid, appeared to get loose through the corner and slammed the outside wall before spinning and hitting the inside wall.

“I’m fine; just disappointed in myself,” said Larson. “This is two weeks in a row that I put my team in a bad spot. I hate that I did that. I just got really loose, over-corrected some, spun to the inside and hit the wall. I just hate that I did that. We only have today for practice, and I didn’t have much time in that practice session.

“Hopefully we can get some laps in the backup car. I was happy last week with the efforts to get the backup ready and the outcome in the race as well. Hopefully, we can do it again today, but I’m just mad at myself.”

Chase Elliott hit the wall off Turn 1 late in the going. The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet slid up the track and Elliott hit the wall with the right rear.

Larson and Elliott will go to backup cars for the rest of the weekend. Regardless of qualifying later today, both will drop to the rear of the field for the start of Sunday’s race.

“Just made a mistake and crashed,” said Elliott. “I put myself in a pretty poor situation there in practice. Apologize to my guys here and the people back at the shop. That’s what you get when you make dumb decisions.”

Corey LaJoie also damaged his car when he bounced off the wall coming off the Tunnel Turn. The Go Fas Racing team repaired his No. 32 Ford.

There are 38 cars entered in Sunday’s race.

UP NEXT: Final practice at 11:05 a.m. ET.

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