One of the drivers squarely on the Chase for the Sprint Cup bubble, Clint Bowyer has a big opportunity this weekend at Watkins Glen International to possibly get a win and secure a spot in the 16-driver playoff.
So far, so good.
Bowyer, widely considered one of NASCAR's best road racers, lapped the 2.45-mile New York course at 127.067 mph late in Friday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice to lead the session over renowned road-course master AJ Allmendinger (126.901).
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Jimmie Johnson, Sam Hornish Jr. and Casey Mears completed the top five, as Paul Menard, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon filled out the rest of the top 10.
Busch spun his No. 18 Toyota during the 1-hour, 20-minute session but continued on with no major damage.
Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen is the second and final road-course race on the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule.
Allmendinger, who like Bowyer is looking to score a Chase-clinching victory on Sunday, is the defending race winner.