NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Turns In Fastest Practice Time at Atlanta Motor Speedway

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Looks like the luck of the Irish…Spring is with NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he posted the fastest practice time in Atlanta today. He might have traded the Irish Spring logo for SweetLeaf, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and it’s nice to have a little luck around. Stenhouse needs a strong race if he wants to position himself for postseason play.

Each of the 37 drivers in the field got to participate in the single practice session that was helped at the newly revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway. Qualifying was going to take place on Saturday, however, the weather kept that from happening. So, the 50-minute practice session gave many of the drivers their first look at the repaved and shaped track.

NASCAR is excited about this newly worked-on track, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. seemed to like it at practice. He sped around the track in 29.078 seconds in his Chevy. Good news for the Joe Gibbs Racing team with Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell coming in with the second and third fastest times. It was another day that will be disappointing for the team back at Toyota, though.

This season, there has not been a Toyota winner and there really haven’t been that many great finishes from the manufacturer outside of Bubba Wallace’s runner-up finish at Daytona. After the three Chevys came through, three Ford drivers were next. Harrison Burton, Joey Logano, and Michael McDowell. I’m very interested in McDowell. He runs well at superspeedways and this is a race that will ideally run like a superspeedway.

Before Sunday’s race, drivers are going to be thinking about what they will do once they hit race conditions. There’s some idea of what to expect, however, you never know until you see a race go down.

NASCAR Driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talks About Updated Track in Atlanta

Of course, after practice, NASCAR had drivers like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talk to the media. They opened up about what they saw on the track and how it felt. Stenhouse, much like Kurt Busch, mentioned that Turn 3 still has some character.

“What you saw in practice is what you should expect in the race,” the No. 47 driver said. “It does get a little tight on entry, especially into Turn 3. Two-wide is comfortable. It was practice so nobody was trying to show really three-wide and were not being too aggressive. I think track position is going to be important and we didn’t see a lot of tire wear.”

Another important number to note, Denny Hamlin had the fastest average speed. His average speed was 182.032 MPH. That was among drivers that went around at least 10 consecutive laps. Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson followed in that category. So, there should be some fast racing, some interesting lessons to learn, and a beautifully paved track on Sunday.