Dale Earnhardt Jr. topped the first practice session of the weekend for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ahead of title contender Carl Edwards.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Earnhardt set the fastest time of the 90-minute session on his first lap on Saturday, after all Cup on-track activities were canceled on Friday due to rain. Earnhardt's best lap just edged Chase leader Edwards on a green track following Friday night's rain. Both set their personal best of the session on their first flying lap with a new set of tires, then carried on a longer run in which they set the most consistent times of the morning.
Edwards was the driver running the most laps during the session, with 49, focusing on long runs in race trim. Despite trying out a qualifying run later in the session Earnhardt was unable to beat his initial best as track temperatures picked up notably in the final 30 minutes.
Tony Stewart finished the session in 15th, not running as quick as Edwards on the short runs but looking just as consistent over a 10-lap run, setting one of the fastest 10-lap averages behind Edwards. Stewart's best lap came later in the session in a qualifying simulation when track conditions were not as good as early on. He performed a number of flying lap attempts in the last 30 minutes, consistently improving with each run.
Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth, a former Homestead winner, was third fastest ahead of Stewart's Stewart Haas teammate Ryan Newman while outgoing champion Jimmie Johnson, looking for his first Homestead victory, was fifth, followed by Phoenix winner Kasey Kahne.
The session was halted twice, initially during the first 10 minutes of running after the engine on Mike Skinner's car blew up leaving fluid on the track. There was a second caution later for a brief threat of rain that quickly vanished.