Conley sets the pace at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. – Vienna, W.Va. native Cale Conley soared to the top of the leaderboard during the NASCAR Nationwide Series final practice at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday.

Conley posted a high speed of 175.262 mph after running 48 laps in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro with sponsor Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The K&N Pro Series East regular was the 11th-fastest driver in Friday’s opening practice. “I really need to be in the car every weekend to unload in practice with speed, consistency and confidence,” he said.

Following Conley were temmates Brendan Gaughan, posting a speed of 174.961 mph, and Ty Dillon with a lap of 174.848. Rounding out the top five were Trevor Bayne and rookie Ryan Reed.

Erik Jones, who is making his Nationwide Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing at Chicagoland, came in as the sixth fastest, posting a speed of 174.064 mph. Jones drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.

Brian Scott was fastest in Friday’s opening practice, but was slower in the final session with a speed of 172.667 mph.

Conley made his return to the K&N East Series in the Granite State 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Friday. Conley drove the No. 47 Ravici Racing Chevrolet Impala to a third-place finish after starting the race at the rear of the field in the 30th position.

“I’m confident in my skill in these cars with my experience,” said Conley. “We weren’t as prepared as we needed to be, not having a full team this season. The ride is good practice for my Nationwide Series.”

His lone win in the series came in 2012 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway. Conley has competed in the K&N East Series since 2011 with three pole positions, and eight top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes to his credit.

Conley used the opportunity to drive the Ravici Racing entry to gain more seat time, due to his limited Nationwide Series schedule with Richard Childress Racing this season. He has found his share of success behind the wheel of the No. 33 RCR Chevy Camaro. He finished 11th during his Nationwide Series debut at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. In his third outing in the RCR Okuma-sponsored Camaro, he was able to post a 15th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

The Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying will take place at 4:10 p.m. today with coverage on FOX Sports 2.

The 300 will run at 8:30 p.m. today with coverage on ESPN2.