CLICK: Full practice 1 results from Texas
Brian Vickers got his weekend off to a strong start by posting a blistering lap of 27.106s (199.218mph) on the 1.5-mile high-banked Texas Motor Speedway in Friday's sole practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field.
Vickers' time in the Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Toyota was already faster than the existing qualifying record at Texas, which is 198.282mph set earlier this year by Kevin Harvick in April.
Harvick himself was second-fastest in the 90-minute session, 0.031s behind Vickers time with a top speed of 198.990mph. Harvick needs a strong result this week at Texas and ideally a win to keep him in title contention in the Chase, after an accident last week at Martinsville left him at a serious disadvantage in the championship points standings.
Harvick's team mate and car owner Tony Stewart was fourth fastest ahead of Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon, with Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola rounding out the top six.
Among the remaining Chase contenders, Carl Edwards was 7th, Denny Hamlin 12th, Joey Logano 20th, Ryan Newman 23rd, Brad Keselowski 24th and Matt Kenseth 26th.
Many drivers struggled with tight conditions early in the session, before finally getting their car dialled in for faster laps later on as they started to concentrate on qualifying trim. There were no significant incidents or stoppages to the session.
Qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 takes place at 5.45pm local time (10.45pm GMT) and will take the usual three-round elimination format. Drivers get a chance for two further 50 minute practice sessions on Saturday before the race itself, which is set to get underway on Sunday afternoon shortly after 2pm (8pm GMT).
In the meantime there will also be Friday night racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and Saturday afternoon action in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
See full practice 1 results from Texas
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