The two Saturday practices at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in preparation for the second race of the Chase for the Championship have concluded. Clint Bowyer led the first session and Dale Earnhardt Jr. paced Happy Hour.
Bowyer's fastest lap of the morning session clocked in at 28.705 seconds according to the speed chart received by jayski.com. That was just six hundredths of a second quicker than second-place runner Earnhardt. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the morning practice's top-five drivers.
The speeds picked up fractionally during Happy Hour as Earnhardt ran his quickest lap in 28.625 seconds, also according to ESPN-owned jayski.com.
Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, defending race-winner Denny Hamlin and Bowyer rounded out the afternoon session's top-five drivers.
In total, Chase drivers claimed seven of the top-10 spots on the speed chart during the 50-minute final practice. Pole-sitter Ryan Newman was the slowest of the championship-contending drivers in the session. His quick lap of 29.066 seconds was good enough for only 25th place on the charts, over four tenths of a second slower than Earnhardt's lap.
Forty-two of the 43 cars scheduled to start tomorrow's event took advantage of the final practice. Only the No. 87 car of Joe Nemechek failed to run any laps. Tony Raines practiced his car in the morning session, as Nemechek is in Kentucky for the Nationwide Series race.
There were no incidents in either session, and the only driver scheduled to drop to the rear of the field prior to start of Sunday's race is Brian Vickers. Kenny Wallace qualified his car on Friday and, per NASCAR rules, Vickers will start the race at the back of the pack due to the driver change.
Saturday's practice sessions were the last time the drivers and cars will see the track before Sunday's running of the Sylvania 300.
Rain could be an issue for the second consecutive weekend. Sunday's preliminary forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of rain with strong gusty winds.
The green flag will wave at approximately 2:15 p.m. ET, with television coverage on ESPN.
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