McDowell leads Darlington practice

Michael McDowell set the pace early in NASCAR Cup Series practice at Darlington Raceway and it was enough to make him the fastest driver overall Saturday morning.

McDowell’s No. 34 Ford Mustang Dark Horse led the way at 169.444mph (20.022s). It was his second lap on the track.

Ty Gibbs was second fastest (168.567mph), Chris Buescher was third fastest (168.457mph), and Christopher Bell was fourth fastest (168.376mph). William Byron completed the top five in practice (168.186mph).

Byron is the defending race winner.

Joey Logano was sixth fastest (167.985mph), Erik Jones was seventh fastest in his return to the seat (167.871mph), Corey LaJoie was eighth fastest (167.853mph), and Denny Hamlin was ninth fastest (167.762mph). Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top 10 (167.579mph).


Cup Series championship leader Kyle Larson was 15th fastest. Larson’s best lap was 167.197mph.

There were no significant incidents in practice but a few drivers wind up with a “Darlington stripe.” Among them were Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch.

Austin Cindric was fastest in the best 10 consecutive lap average. It was Cindric over Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Todd Gilliland, and Michael McDowell.

There are 36 drivers entered in the Goodyear 400.

Story originally appeared on Racer