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A week on from exiting this year's Chase battle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Jimmie Johnson was shrugging off the disappointment of knowing that he's not going to be retaining his title by setting his sights firmly on a consolation prize in the form of victory in the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Johnson ended Saturday with the fastest time of any of the Cup field in either of the final two practice sessions. He set his time of 19.318s (98.023mph) early in the 50-minute morning practice on his fourth lap of a total of 53 at the half-mile 'Paperclip', which was 0.064s faster than the next-best time of the day set by his team mate Jeff Gordon who is now alone in flying the Hendrick Motorsport colours in the play-offs.

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Gordon's best lap of the day was also set in the morning session, and along with Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick it made for a Chevrolet sweep of the top five. The best non-Chevy performance came from Brad Keselowski who was sixth fastest in the #2 Penske Ford just ahead of defending race winner Kurt Busch.

There was only a single early caution when Justin Allgaier's #51 HScott Motorsports suffered engine problems, but there was also a minor incident later in the session when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made slight contact with AJ Allmendinger coming out of a corner, which left the #47 JTG Daugherty Racing car with light damage. Allmendinger nonetheless finished the session as 22nd fastest, three ahead of Earnhardt in the #88.

In the final 50-minute Cup practice session that got underway at noon and which was largely given over to longer racing simulations, Kevin Harvick went to the top of the timesheets albeit with a slightly slower time of 19.457s (97.322mph) than he had managed in the morning. Nonetheless this confirmed that the Stewart-Haas Racing driver - who only managed to qualify in 33rd place for tomorrow's grid - had found an effective cure for what had been ailing him on Friday and could be set for a strong recovery drive in the race.

Also happy to be on the comeback trail was Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse, who finished the afternoon session second-fastest and just 0.016s off Harvick's best time. Stenhouse suffered the indignity of failing to make the grid last week at Talladega after confusion over revised rules for qualifying at superspeedways caught out a number of high-profile drivers and left Stenhouse himself unable to set a flying lap and out of the top six in owners points guaranteed a starting position. However for this week's race Stenhouse is safely in the field and will be taking the green flag in 18th place.

Brad Keselowski continued to have a strong and consistent run at Martinsville with the third fastest time of final practice putting him just ahead of Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon, with Johnson following up his morning pace with the sixth fastest time of the afternoon. Keselowski's team mate Joey Logano was the next fastest Chase contender in ninth place, a slight improvement on the 12th he had posted in the earlier session.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was tenth fastest despite suffering from a splitter than was set too late and scraping on the track through the corners which eventually sent him to the garage mid-session for attention.

There were no cautions in the final practice session, but there was an incident between the Richard Petty Motorsports #43 and the Go FAS Racing #32 that left both cars with minor damage after Aric Almirola attempted to make a pass and Kyle Fowler - in his first Cup appearance - was unable to make way and leave the required space in time to avoid contact.

The Sprint Cup drivers will next be out on track for the start of the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Sunday afternoon, with the green flag set for 1.43pm local time - 5.43pm GMT, after the clocks go back overnight for the end of British Summer Time.

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