Kyle Busch appears in position to try to end Kevin Harvick’s three-race winning streak.
Busch ended up fastest in Saturday’s final practice session at Auto Club Speedway, with an average lap speed of 185.668 mph that was set very early in the session.
Busch has finished runner-up to Harvick in the last two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races and has won two of the last four Cup races at Auto Club Speedway.
Busch and Toyota are still searching for their first win of the 2018 season.
“We focused on the long-run the last four or five years and it paid off in 2011 and 2013. And a couple of years ago as well. It almost paid off for us,” Busch said. “It just hasn’t the last couple of years.
“We end up having these short-run bursts. These short five- or six-lap runs – whatever it is – until the finish of the race. We just haven’t been able to have that short-run speed. If we can try to have both, that would be the perfect world.”
Reigning series champion and pole-winner, Martin Truex Jr., ended up second-fastest (185.319 mph). Jimmie Johnson ended up third, Harvick fourth and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray.
With about 15 minutes left in the session, Kyle Busch said his No. 18 Toyota “felt good” and was just a little tight in the center of the turns.
A total of 10 drivers had to sit out the final 15 minutes of the 50-minute session. Michael McDowell lost the time due to a qualifying inspection violation.
The teams of Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Bowyer, William Byron, A.J. Allmendinger, Johnson, Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman were all docked the time for twice failing pre-qualifying inspection on Friday.
“I’m confident we’ll be just fine on Sunday,” said Bowman, who ended up 11th fastest.”