Chase Elliott led a Hendrick Motorsports sweep in Saturdayâs final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Martinsville Speedway, his No. 9 Chevrolet posting a fast lap of 97.543 mph.
A pair of Elliottâs Hendrick Motorsports teammates also rounded out the top three: Alex Bowman was second-quickest in the No. 88 (96.627 mph), while nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson laid down a 96.612-mph lap to rank third on the speed charts.Â Hendrick Motorsports has 24 wins at Martinsville Speedway, the most by one team at a single track in NASCAR history.Â Johnson most recently won for the organization at âThe Paperclipâ in fall 2016, the same year he won the series championship.
MORE: Full practice results
Austin Dillon became the fourth Chevrolet to post a top-five speed in the final session, his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet notching the fourth spot with a 96.548-mph lap. Paul Menardâs No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford completed the top five (96.538 mph).
Reigning race winner Clint Bowyer, who paced Saturdayâs opening session, was 12th-quickest in final practice.
Saturdayâs final practice ended under caution, as Cody Ware hit the wall hard in his No. 51.
The Monster Energy Series returns to the track for Busch Pole Qualifying at 5:10 p.m. ET on FS1.
Defending winner Clint Bowyer returned to the top of the leaderboard at Martinsville Speedway in Saturdayâs opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. Bowyerâs No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford notched a fast lap of 97.674 mph around âThe Paperclip.â
He was joined in the top three by two of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, as Daniel Suarez (97.257 mph) and Aric Almirola (97.003 mph) ranked second- and third-quickest, respectively.
Martin Truex Jr., who is still searching for his first career short-track victory, came up fourth in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (96.939 mph), while Phoenix and Auto Club winner Kyle Busch rounded out the top five in his No. 18 Toyota (96.884 mph).
Martinsvilleâs most recent winner Joey Logano â who won the seriesâ Playoff trip to the short track in 2018 â was eighth-fastest.
William Byron hit the wall early, sustaining right-front fender damage on his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He headed to the garage afterward.
Corey LaJoie brought out a caution midway through practice when his No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford got into the wall. LaJoie said the team was going to a backup car for Sundayâs race.
âThat just sucks because we were making it really good,â LaJoie said.Â âI think we were 20th at the time, but Iâll tell you there is no coffee strong enough that will wake you up like losing brakes into Turn 1 at Martinsville. Itâs not a good feeling losing brakes. It had like a half-pedal and then it felt like it blew through the seal or something. Itâs unfortunate because small teams like ours we donât really bring a backup thatâs fully ready to go, so my guys have a lot of work ahead of them. Iâll probably pitch in and help a little bit, but, obviously, our backup is not gonna be as good as the car that we choose and bring as our primary.â
The No. 34 of Michael McDowell served a 15-minute penalty at the end of practice for multiple pre-race inspection failures last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.