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Saturday morning’s practice sessions were the first time NASCAR had been on track in Fontana, Calif., since March 2020 and it was the debut of the Next Generation race cars on a 2-mile oval.
Overall, Hamlin was fastest among the two 15-minute sessions with an average lap speed of 173.414 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman.
Completing the top-10 average speeds were William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell and Erik Jones.
Three laps into the Group B session, Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota got loose in Turn 2 and hit the wall with the right-rear of his car. The damage appeared to be repairable, however.
Reddick ended up fastest in the Group B session (172.471 mph), which ended up far more tame than the first session.
Byron was second-quick in the session (172.178 mph) and Wallace was third (172.178 mph), which he accomplished before his accident.
Practice for the first group of cars got off to a slow start as Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford snapped loose in Turn 4 in his first lap on the track and backed into the wall.
Harvick’s team elected to move to a backup cap but had to use one from Cole Custer’s team because of a lack of inventory.
Shortly after the practice returned to green, Ross Chastain shot up the track in Turns 1 and 2 and slammed nose-first into the wall, doing substantial damage to his No. 1 Chevrolet.
Moments later, Chris Buescher spun in his No. 17 Ford and didn’t appear to hit anything.
Chastain was also forced to move to a backup car and will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
Bell spun just as the Group A session came to close but did not appear to do significant damage to his Toyota.
Hamlin ended up fastest in the first session at 173.414 mph, followed by Kyle Busch (172.160 mph) and Logano (172.442 mph). Bowman and Keselowski rounded out the top-five.