Erik Jones fastest in 1st of 2 Cup practices at Fontana; Harvick hits wall, Ragan to backup
NASCAR Cup rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the first of two practice sessions Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Jones drove his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to the top of the speed charts at the Fontana, California track with a best lap of 187.251, the only driver to exceed 187 mph.
Jones was followed by Chase Elliott (186.843), Ryan Newman (186.732), Jimmie Johnson (186.384) and Brad Keselowski (186.292).
There were two incidents of note during the session:
* With just over nine minutes remaining in the practice session, Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hit hard into the outside retaining wall, sustaining damage on the right side.
However, the team chose to repair the damage rather than go to a backup car.
Prior to the incident, Harvick’s car was sixth-fastest (186.128 mph).
* In the final two minutes, David Ragan spun and impacted the Turn 3 wall. It appeared something came loose from under Ragan’s car before impact. The damage sent Ragan to a backup car.
“We just cut a left-rear tire going down the back straightaway, and I tried to start slowing it down as quick as I could, and just couldn’t slow it down fast enough,” he said. “By the time I got to Turn 3, I was wrecking before I even got to the corner. It’s certainly unfortunate. I felt like our Camping World Ford was pretty decent. We made a few adjustments and hadn’t put new tires on yet, and I felt like our speeds hadn’t fallen off a lot, so it’s unfortunate. Hopefully, we can get our backup out in time to make a few laps in the second practice.”