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Ryan Blaney tops Cup practice at Sonoma

Ryan Blaney led NASCAR Cup Series practice Friday evening at Sonoma Raceway with the fastest single lap.

The reigning Cup champion completed 23 laps around the California road course. His best lap was 73.202 seconds and 97.866 mph.

Ty Gibbs, who was fourth-fastest in Xfinity practice, was second behind Blaney on the speed charts. He completed his best lap in 73.230 seconds at 97.829 mph.

Supercars driver Will Brown was third with a 73.389-second lap as he prepared for his Cup Series debut. Alex Bowman (73.420 seconds) and Chase Elliott (73.494 seconds) rounded out the fast five.

More: Cup practice results at Sonoma

The Cup teams expected to see faster laps after Sonoma underwent a repave. Blaney's lap was four seconds faster than last season's pole-winning time. Twenty-three cars had laps faster than the track record.

"Overall, a really good day," Blaney said after practice, per Team Penske. "I thought all the Team Penske Fords had good speed. It was nice to start close to where we wanted to be and get a little better throughout the day. Hopefully, it bodes well for the rest of the weekend."

While Blaney was the fastest in single-lap speed, he was seventh in the 10-lap consecutive average.

Ross Chastain was the fastest driver with a 10-lap average speed of 95.667 mph. Tyler Reddick was second-fastest at 95.508 mph. Bowman (95.464 mph), Denny Hamlin (95.203 mph), Bubba Wallace (94.934 mph), and Corey LaJoie (94.761 mph) were the drivers ahead of Blaney.

Sunday's race marks Blaney's eighth time competing at Sonoma Raceway. He has four top-10 finishes in his seven previous starts, headlined by the 2019 season when he crossed the line third behind Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Cup qualifying takes place Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. FS2 will provide coverage for the session. The Cup race will take place Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Fox will provide coverage for the final time this season before NBC Sports takes over.