Right now, the Hendrick Motorsports cars look to be the class of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field for Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They took three of the top four spots in qualifying on Friday to go along with three of the top six speeds in the lone practice session of the day too.
In the two final practice sessions on Saturday, they were once again strong. They were 4-6-8-22 in the first session of the day followed by going 1-7-10-13 in final practice.
The problem was, Jimmie Johnson damaged his car by going off course and into the tri oval grass late in final practice only to be followed by Alex Bowman crashing in the final seconds.
Johnson’s car would be repaired but Bowman’s not. The left Bowman having to go to a backup car which means he will forego his second place starting spot in his No. 88 Chevrolet to now going to the rear.
Bowman, was 10th quickest in final practice. He enters this weekend one spot behind the cutoff line to make the Round of 12. He’s two points behind his teammate William Byron. The North Carolina native will roll off from the pole and was sixth and seventh quickest respectively in his No. 24 Chevrolet on Saturday.
Chase Elliott was eighth fastest in the morning session but quickest in final practice in his No. 9 Chevrolet. Johnson, was fourth and 13th respectively himself.
The ones who’s hot on their tails are Team Penske. Ryan Blaney won this race last year and was quickest in the opening practice session and sixth in final practice. He will roll off ninth in his No. 12 Ford on Sunday.
Joey Logano was third and 12th respectively in his No. 22 Ford on Saturday while Brad Keselowski was 11th and third respectively in his No. 2 Ford.
A couple of sleepers are Kyle Larson (7th, 8th) and Clint Bowyer (4th, 18th, 4th).
Martin Truex Jr. is looking for the sweep of race wins in the opening round but he had an issue in final practice and will have to change engines. He will go from starting eighth to having to go to the rear too.
So far, Bowman, Denny Hamlin and Parker Kligerman will go to the back due to backup cars while Truex joins them with an engine change.