Alex Bowman fastest in first practice on Bristol gravel

Jared C. Tilton | fake images

Alex Bowman set the pace in a groundbreaking practice session on Friday afternoon, posting the fastest lap as NASCAR Cup Series drivers hit the dirt surface of Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time.

RELATED: Practice 1 results | Weekend program

Bowman pushed the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to the best speed of 89.308 mph at the half-mile track. The 50-minute session marked the opening of activity on the track ahead of Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the first Cup Series event on gravel since 1970.

Dirt expert Christopher Bell was second fastest at 88.999 mph in the No. 20 Toyota, the first of Joe Gibbs Racing’s three straight innings behind Bowman. Kyle Busch placed third on the speed chart with teammate Denny Hamlin fourth and Hendrick’s Kyle Larson completing the top five.

Opening practice was completed without major incident, with solo spins by Martin Truex Jr. and JJ Yeley (twice) among the few missteps. Truex is among the Cup Series drivers doing double duty in Saturday’s Pinty’s Truck On-Ground Truck Race (8pm ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) for the Camping World Truck Series.

Practice for the Final Cup Series is scheduled for Friday at 6:35 pm ET (FS1). The first of four qualifying races to establish the starting lineup is scheduled for Saturday at 6 pm ET (FS1).

This story will be updated.

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