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Burton, Sauter fight for top speed

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Rookie Jeb Burton, poised to make just his seventh start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, led the speed charts Friday morning in the series' only practice session at Martinsville Speedway.

Burton, a second-generation driver from nearby Halifax, Va., turned a fast lap of 96.244 mph in preparation for Saturday's Kroger 250, the second race of the year for the truck tour.

Johnny Sauter, a former Martinsville winner, was second-fastest at 96.239 mph, just one-thousandth of a second off Burton's time. Ron Hornaday Jr. was third-fastest at 96.010 mph with Brendan Gaughan fourth-fastest at 95.728.

Burton topped the list of five Rookie of the Year candidates at the historic .526-mile track. Darrell Wallace Jr. was fifth and German Quiroga Jr. eighth on the practice report. Brennan Newberry, the pole-sitter in the season opener at Daytona, was 15th-fastest with Ryan Blaney 21st.

Two drivers making their first truck series start -- Chase Elliott, 17, and Erik Jones, 16 -- will be taking advantage of the series' new rule permitting drivers under 18 on tracks of 1.017 miles (Rockingham Speedway) or shorter. Elliott was 12th-fastest on the practice chart with Jones 14th-fastest.

Kevin Harvick, a three-time Martinsville trucks winner who prevailed from the pole position in this race last season, was 26th in the practice session.

Unseasonable frozen precipitation overnight and an early morning drizzle forced an adjustment to the morning schedule. The 60-minute and 80-minute sessions with a half-hour break in between were combined into a single two-hour practice. Truck qualifying is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.

The damp conditions marked the race-weekend debut of the NASCAR Air Titan track dryer. Officials deployed a smaller version of the new system on a trial basis in conjunction with conventional jet dryers.



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