Kurt Busch came out the best during Friday’s practice session prior Lenox Industrial Tools 301 qualifying at New Hampshire.
Busch—last year's New Hampshire winner in a rain-shortened race—came in with a lap of 130.667 mph at the very end of the practice session.
Most teams came in with a race setup to start the afternoon and then rolled out their qualifying trim in the final thirty minutes. Prior to the qualifying setup, Busch was fast along with Penske racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr.
Hornish finished with the 13th fastest lap overall, but was very fast in race trim. This goes along with his success at the Phoenix and Richmond; similar tracks where Hornish is the only driver other than Mark Martin and Tony Stewart to finish in the top 10 in both races in the same year.
Kyle Busch came out fired up and laid down an early fast lap in race trim and continued to impress throughout the practice. The Richmond winner who came out determined in Virginia looks to be equally ready for this weekend's race.
Jimmie Johnson, usually solid on these kind of tracks, struggled in practice before putting on qualifying trim. Johnson had the fourth-fastest lap overall but struggled early on despite running the most practice laps with 61 laps ran.
Tony Stewart came out full throttle with the second-fastest lap in practice early on but had to go to a backup car after crashing his rear into the wall. He will use a race-experienced backup car that finished second in Phoenix. He should be fine come race day.
Before qualifying setup came into play, the best racers appeared to be Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart.
It appears that qualifying will be wiped by rain in New Hampshire, so Saturday’s practice session will give further clarification as to who looks sharp for Sunday’s race. I’ll update then.