Larson fastest in final Sprint Cup practice

The cars at the front of the starting grid remained the fastest in Saturday’s final two Sprint Cup practice periods but Rookie Kyle Larson was fastest in the final session, in which teams run the closest approximations to their race setups.

Larson, who’ll start 12th on Sunday, went 198.424 mph on his first lap of the final run.

“I felt like we made really big gains in our Target Chevy throughout the weekend,” he said. “Yesterday in practice I didn’t think we were good at all.”

Gordon, pole sitter Kevin Harvick and Johnson _ all of whom will start in the top seven _ also topped 198 mph in the final practice run.

The skies were mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s during the final run, but the forecast is calling for a high of 80 by the time the green flag waves Sunday. Larson said he’s not sure what to expect.

“I don’t know how this track changes with the temperatures,” he said. “I’ve only run here once since it was repaved.”

Harvick, who set a new track record Friday in qualifying, was the only driver to top 202 mph in Saturday’s early session. As he predicted, speeds slowed as cars began running in traffic later in the day.