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.
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.
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||—|