Johnson paces opening practice on Charlotte Roval

Image by LaBounty/LAT

Johnson paces opening practice on Charlotte Roval

NASCAR

Johnson paces opening practice on Charlotte Roval

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Jimmie Johnson was fastest in opening NASCAR Cup Series practice at Charlotte by jumping to the top spot as the session came to a close.

Johnson ran a lap of 103.152 mph (80.968s), with three playoff drivers closely behind in Kyle Larson (103.088 mph), William Byron (102.453 mph), and Clint Bowyer (102.409 mph). Matt DiBenedetto was fifth quickest at 102.401 mph.

The rest of the top 10 were Chase Elliott (P) at 102.206 mph, Erik Jones (P) at 102.057 mph, Daniel Suarez at 101.911 mph, Ryan Preece at 101.670 mph, and Ryan Blaney (P) at 101.597 mph.

Blaney is the defending race winner.

The remaining playoff drivers were Kyle Busch 13th quickest at 101.380 mph, Brad Keselowski 14th at 101.301 mph, Joey Logano 15th at 101.267 mph, Alex Bowman 17th at 100.809 mph, Kurt Busch 18th at 100.699 mph, Aric Almirola 19th at 100.427 mph, Martin Truex Jr. 21st at 100.346 mph, Kevin Harvick 22nd at 100.223 mph, Denny Hamlin 25th at 99.922 mph, and Ryan Newman 28th at 99.472 mph.

Two drivers will be in backup cars for Sunday’s race and will also have to start from the rear of field.

Parker Kligerman crashed in Turn 1 early in practice. He damaged the right front of his Gaunt Brothers Toyota. Playoff contender Denny Hamlin destroyed the rear of his car when he later spun in Turn 6.

Multiple drivers experienced some trouble in practice but escaped without damage. Joe Nemechek went over the curb and off course in the backstretch chicane, but came to a stop before hitting the wall. Darrell Wallace Jr. spun in Turn 6 and made just slight contact with the tire barriers.

Austin Cindric was 24th fastest in the No. 34 for Ford Row Motorsports. Cindric replaced Michael McDowell who went to a local hospital to be evaluated for abdominal pain. McDowell has been released from hospital and plans to qualify the car this afternoon.

There were no practice holds for the Cup Series. There are 40 cars entered in the race.

UP NEXT: Qualifying at 4:40 p.m. ET.

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