Austin Cindric ended up fastest in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series practice at Darlington that saw a pair of top drivers with incidents that will force them to miss qualifying.
Cindric had the overall fastest average lap speed (167.270 mph), which he set in the Group B session.
Cindric’s Penske teammate, Joey Logano, ended up second-fastest overall (166.517 mph) while Denny Hamlin was third (166.450 mph).
Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick – who were both in Group A – completed the top-five.
Among those drivers who ran at least 10 consecutive laps, Logano had the top average speed (163.718 mph). Ryan Blaney and Reddick were second and third, respectively, in that category.
Cindric set the fastest average lap speed of this session (167.270 mph) in the opening minutes.
Logano was second (166.517 mph) and Hamlin third (166.450 mph). Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.
About nine minutes into the session, Elliott wrecked hard in Turns 3 and Turn 4 and did significant damage to his No. 9 Chevrolet.
His team was forced to move to a backup car and he will miss qualifying and have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
“Just had the left-rear (tire) going down on the back (stretch). I recognized it but I just couldn’t slow down in time,” Elliott said. “I hate that. I don’t know what to do. Hopefully, that’s not a trend that continues tomorrow.
“It’s kind of a concerning thing. I saw (Harvick) had one in a similar manner but fortunately he was in a spot where he could keep going.”
Just as the session ended, Brad Keselowski spun around but didn’t appear to suffer any damage.
Chastain topped the first practice session with an average lap speed of 165.659 mph.
Reddick was second (165.609 mph) and Kyle Busch third (165.397 mph). Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five.
About eight minutes into the session Kevin Harvick got loose then came to a stop on the track with a flat left-rear tire.
Harvick’s team was forced to the garage to replace the rear diffuser on his No. 4 Ford and was not able to continue in practice and will miss qualifying. He will start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
In the final minute of the session, Corey LaJoie spun off Turn 4, which brought an end to the Group A practice. LaJoie had completed the most laps in the session (29).