Dale Earnhardt Jr. has never been shy about his dislike of road racing, but you'd never know it based on how he wheeled the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on Friday.
On a hot, sunny afternoon in Northern California wine country, Earnhardt paced the final Happy Hour practice round inn advance of Sunday's Save Mart/Toyota 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway. His best lap was 95.298 miles per hour around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course.
If Earnhardt was a surprise on top of the board, so was the second-place finisher, Casey Mears, who ran 95.255 mph in the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet. Three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas completed the top five, as Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.
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Early on in the session, Busch's No. 18 JGR Toyota made contact with a rabbit at the left-front brake duct, leaving blood on the nose of the car and causing minor front-end damage.
Today was two rounds of practice only, with qualifying taking place Saturday at 2:15 p.m. ET on FS1.
For complete results from Friday's final practice session, see below.