Charlotte, NC -NASCAR Sprint Cup Happy Hour ended with Kyle Busch atop the scoring pylon, turning the fastest lap of the session at 188.383 mph. Busch ran 32 laps in the final one-hour practice session before Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s nice to have the fastest lap, but it doesn’t really mean much,” Busch said. “What we are really looking at are lap averages. But it’s a good car. We have a few things to work on tonight, but we should be good tomorrow.”
Just behind him on the speed chart was Regan Smith, who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this weekend in the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Smith turned 43 laps, including a fast lap of 188.009 mph, as he tries to adjust to his temporary new ride.
“It’s just learning all the characteristics of this race car and what it’s capable of, how much I can lean on it, different things it can do in the corner,” Smith said. “As much as anything, I’m just getting more and more comfortable in my surroundings in the car. Everything from the dashboard to the seat to where you’re positioned in the car is different for me this weekend than what I’ve been accustomed to for four years, so it’s getting better.”
Smith said he knows that tomorrow, during the Bank of America 500, everything will have a much different feel.
“We’re gonna put 43 cars out there and we’re gonna start deeper in the pack than we want to,” he said. “Starting 26th is gonna be a big issue there, as we all know, so we’re gonna have to work hard to get track position, and once we get it keep it somehow.”
Earnhardt Jr. has helped coach the young driver, even calling Smith to offer some advice after his qualifying run during Bojangles’ Pole Night.
“At the time, I was pretty bummed out about the qualifying lap,” Smith recalled. “He said don’t worry about it, you’re in a race car that can pass a lot of cars; you’ll be fine. And that’s the main thing that he said. He’s got a lot of experience, he’s been on this team for a long time, so I’ll talk to him tonight and go from there.”