Joe Gibbs Racing has cause for concern as Chevrolet dominates practice in Nashville
Hendrick Motorsports continues to show top speed as Joe Gibbs Racing struggles in the Cup Series’ inaugural weekend at Nashville.
LEBANON, Tenn. — As the NASCAR Cup Series celebrates its inaugural weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, so far Joe Gibbs Racing isn’t having much fun at the party.
Chevrolet drivers consumed the top-seven speeds in practice for Sunday’s Ally 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the 1.33-mile concrete oval. It was Toyota’s fleet that struggled to find any momentum.
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JGR driver Denny Hamlin recorded the fastest speed amongst the Toyota brigade with an eighth-place run, but it was a different story for the rest of the organization.
Although Hamlin’s No. 11 car was the closest to the mark to kick off the weekend, the speed of the Chevys are his main focus point.
“We are off a-ways for sure,” Hamlin said. “My objective is to just get my car as good as I can get it. If I can‘t run with them, I can‘t run with them. If there are four cars in particular that are faster than us, then it‘s my job to finish fifth."
Hendrick Motorsports drivers continued their dominating form in the session as William Byron led the way at the top of the leaderboard, tied with teammate Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott finished the session in third to complete the 1-2-3 sweep, and fellow Hendrick driver Alex Bowman placed 10th.
Other Chevy drivers in the top 10 included Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fourth), Tyler Reddick (fifth), Kurt Busch (sixth) and Ross Chastain (seventh).
On the other hand, Christopher Bell finished 20th with Kyle Busch right behind in 21st. 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace ticked off the 28th-fastest speed, while Martin Truex Jr. brought up the rear in 29th.
Truex’s No. 19 team was feverishly making significant adjustments before the cars were impounded ahead of Sunday morning’s qualifying session (11:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN).
“For us, we’re a little worried,” Truex said. “We’re about to do some wholesale changes, so we’ll see. Definitely not a good practice.”
After winning his 100th career Xfinity Series race Saturday at Nashville, Busch didn’t hold out great hope for Sunday, either.
“I’m like how can we correlate what we’re doing on the Xfinity side and being so good and being so fast to being able to put that stuff in a Cup car?” Busch said. “But it just doesn’t connect like that. It’s not that simple.
“Flat out, we suck. Tomorrow is going to be a rough day.”