With drivers exploring a variety of lines through the corners at windswept Auto Club Speedway, Brad Keselowski jumped to the top of the speed chart on his 27th lap in Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice.
Keselowski covered the two-mile distance in 40.759 seconds (176.648 mph), edging Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Daniel Hemric (teammate of pole winner Austin Dillon) for Happy Hour honors by .023 seconds.
Dillon was ninth fastest, as the Richard Childress Racing entries continued to show early-season strength.
Hemric’s Chevrolet was an anomaly in the top seven, which featured six Fords from three different teams. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammates, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano, were fifth and sixth, respectively.
Kevin Harvick, who will start next to Dillon on the front row on Sunday, fought a tight condition in Happy Hour and posted the 17th fastest single lap. Six-time Fontana winner Jimmie Johnson was one spot behind Harvick on the speed chart despite getting the most track time in the session. Johnson ran 52 laps in the 50-minute final practice.
Hemric was fastest in consecutive 10-lap average at 174.940 mph, with Blaney second and Keselowski third.