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2011 Winner Menard Paces Practice for Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

Paul Menard was the fastest driver over two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Practice sessions Saturday for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line.

Menard, the 2011 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard winner, topped the charts in the final practice session at 185.079 mph in the No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford fielded by the legendary Wood Brothers Racing. He was 23rd fastest in the first session at 180.473.

"It gives us a shot in the arm because our heads were hanging after Practice 1,” Menard said. “The guys made good adjustments. We have a raceable car. We have good speed. The drivability is there. Traffic is going to be absolutely brutal tomorrow, so qualifying up front is going to be important.”

Kyle Larson was second fastest overall at 185.025 in the No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kurt Busch at 184.763 in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet. The teammates were the two fastest drivers in the morning practice with those speeds.

Defending Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard winner Brad Keselowski was fourth overall at 184.600 in the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford. Chase Elliott rounded out the top five at 184.305 in the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet.

As time expired in final practice, Denny Hamlin crashed in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin slid above the groove in Turn 4, making contact with the SAFER Barrier with the right side of his car. He rode along the barrier all through the corner with flames following his car. Hamlin stopped at the entrance to pit road and exited the car without assistance.

The 26th Annual Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line will take the green flag at 2 p.m. Sunday after drivers qualify for the race at 10:35 a.m. Visit ims.com to purchase tickets for the race, and visit ims.com/planahead to review parking, gate regulations and more information.

 
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