Austin Cindric was quickest in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series practise at Darlington, which saw two of the sport’s best racers involved in crashes that forced both to miss qualifying.
Cindric had the quickest total average track pace (167.270 mph) in the Group B session.
Joey Logano, Cindric’s Penske’s team member, finished second overall (166.517 mph), with Denny Hamlin third (166.450 mph).
The top five included Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick, both of whom were in Group A.
Logano had the highest actual pace amongst racers who completed at least ten consecutive laps (163.718 mph). Ryan Blaney and Reddick finished second and third in that category, respectively.
In the first moments of the practice, Cindric maintained the quickest aggregate track pace (167.270 mph).
Logano finished second (166.517 mph), and Hamlin finished third (166.517 mph) (166.450 mph). The best performers were Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.
Elliott crashed heavily in Turns 3 and 4, causing serious damage to his No. 9 Chevrolet, around nine minutes into the session.
His squad was obliged to switch to a backup car, and he will skip qualifying and start the race from the back of the pack on Sunday.
“Just had the left-rear (tire) going down on the back (stretch). I recognized it but I just couldn’t slow down in time,” Elliott said. “I hate that. I don’t know what to do. Hopefully, that’s not a trend that continues tomorrow.
“It’s kind of a concerning thing. I saw (Harvick) had one in a similar manner but fortunately he was in a spot where he could keep going.”
Brad Keselowski turned around just as the practice concluded, but he appeared to be unharmed.
With an aggregate track pace of 165.659 mph, Chastain won the first practise session.
Kyle Busch finished third, with Reddick second (165.609 mph) (165.397 mph). Top-five finishers were Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon.
Kevin Harvick came loose around 8 minutes into the session and ground to a halt on the circuit due to a flat left rear tyre.
Harvick’s crew was pushed to the pit to change the rear diffuser on his No. 4 Ford, and he was unable to keep going in practise, missing qualifying. He’ll begin from the back of the pack in Sunday’s race.
The Group A practise came to an end when Corey LaJoie spun off Turn 4 in the closing moment of the session. In the session, LaJoie had accomplished the most laps (29).
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