NXS: Gibbs’ Domination Translates to XFINITY Series as Suarez Tops Practice

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier

Coming off a Sprint Cup championship with Kyle Busch and a Daytona 500 win with Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing is on top of the world. The success has translated from the Sprint Cup Series to the XFINITY Series as Joe Gibbs’ cars took the three of the top-five spots in practice with Daniel Suarez leading the way with a fast lap of 30.478.

Suarez is coming off an eighth-place run to open the season at Daytona. He hopes to improve on a 14th place finish in Atlanta last year with new crew chief Scott Graves. Graves won the championship with Chris Buescher last year, and took Buescher to a fourth-place run in Atlanta last year.

NASCAR WIRE SERVICE: Daniel Suarez, Darrell Wallace Jr. hope to continue strong sophomore start at Atlanta

Erik Jones was second in the afternoon practice after leading the way in the early morning session. This weekend marks Jones’ second XFINITY Series start in Atlanta. Jones ran here last year following Kyle Busch’s unexpected injury at Daytona. Jones finished 13th that weekend, and wants to improve upon that finish this weekend.

The first of two spoilers in the Gibbs’ parade at the front was Brendan Gaughan. Gaughan made a qualifying run late in the session to put him up to second quickest. Six of Gaughan’s 10 NASCAR wins have come at 1.5 mile race tracks, so this is the kind of track he’s comfortable with, and he wants to get start the season off with some early wins.

The other spoiler in the Gibbs’ parade at the front was Kyle Larson. Larson is heavily favored by many in both the XFINITY Series and the Sprint Cup Series this weekend to run well, and possibly even win. Larson took his No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet to fourth on the board with a best lap of 30.752.

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The XFINITY Series’ all-time race winningest driver Kyle Busch ran fifth in practice. Busch has won 76 times in XFINITY Series competition, but none of those wins have come at Atlanta, and he looks to change that tomorrow. Busch was scheduled to run this race last year, but after injuring himself at Daytona to start the season, he missed out on the race and Erik Jones ran in his place finishing 13th.

Rounding out the top-10 in practice were Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, Ty Dillon, Jeremy Clements and Ryan Reed.

Josh Reaume and Jeff Green were the only two drivers who elected not to make a practice lap.

 

POS DRIVER LAPS FAST SPEED FAST TIME BEHIND
1 #19 Daniel Suarez 22 181.902 30.478 Leader
2 #20 Erik Jones 21 180.975 30.634 0.156
3 #62 Brendan Gaughan 24 180.828 30.659 0.181
4 #42 Kyle Larson 5 180.281 30.752 0.274
5 #18 Kyle Busch 35 179.685 30.854 0.376
6 #22 Brad Keselowski 13 179.406 30.902 0.424
7 #7 Justin Allgaier 22 179.047 30.964 0.486
8 #3 Ty Dillon 23 179.035 30.966 0.488
9 #51 Jeremy Clements 14 178.735 31.018 0.540
10 #16 Ryan Reed 18 178.666 31.030 0.552
11 #88 Kevin Harvick 23 178.315 31.091 0.613
12 #33 Brandon Jones 26 178.201 31.111 0.633
13 #2 Paul Menard 28 178.098 31.129 0.651
14 #11 Blake Koch 20 177.989 31.148 0.670
15 #1 Elliott Sadler 17 177.164 31.293 0.815
16 #48 Brennan Poole 38 177.136 31.298 0.820
17 #28 Dakoda Armstrong 19 177.102 31.304 0.826
18 #6 Darrell Wallace Jr. 14 176.989 31.324 0.846
19 #43 Jeb Burton 20 176.915 31.337 0.859
20 #39 Ryan Sieg 27 176.899 31.340 0.862
21 #24 Corey LaJoie 22 176.392 31.430 0.952
22 #14 J.J. Yeley 23 174.901 31.698 1.220
23 #4 Ross Chastain 8 173.891 31.882 1.404
24 #0 Garrett Smithley 22 173.657 31.925 1.447
25 #1 Ryan Preece 23 173.613 31.933 1.455
26 #44 David Starr 12 171.971 32.238 1.760
27 #97 Harrison Rhodes 10 171.593 32.309 1.831
28 #90 Mario Gosselin 15 171.556 32.316 1.838
29 #89 Morgan Shepherd 4 170.921 32.436 1.958
30 #78 B.J. McLeod 8 169.983 32.615 2.137
31 #7 Ray Black Jr. 17 169.785 32.653 2.175
32 #52 Joey Gase 5 169.438 32.720 2.242
33 #40 Carl Long 5 168.122 32.976 2.498
34 #70 Derrike Cope 7 167.432 33.112 2.634
35 #15 Cody Ware 10 166.953 33.207 2.729
36 #99 Todd Peck 12 165.666 33.465 2.987
37 #25 Chris Cockrum 15 165.079 33.584 3.106
38 #74 Mike Harmon 2 160.630 34.514 4.036
39 #13 Josh Reaume 0 0.000 0.000
About Tyson Lautenschlager 552 Articles
A 22-year-old from Ontario, Canada, Tyson Lautenschlager is a Humber College journalism graduate. He is currently the managing editor of OnPitRoad and a chase producer at CTV News Channel in Toronto.