Texas repaved and reconfigured the track ahead of the 2017 season and Johnson, a six-time victor at the 1.5-mile speedway, compared it to a "clean sheet of paper".

The Speedway installed a new racing surface, widened the track from 60 to 80 feet and reduced the banking in the first two turns from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. "It will create more excitement for the fans".

On only the second lap of the almost 2 1/2-hour Cup practice Friday, Denny Hamlin got loose and spun through Turns 1 and 2, but was able to keep his vehicle off the wall.

"It's a little treacherous out there", said Trevor Bayne after the first practice session. "I took the [flag] and we were in a position to run two (laps) to start, just to see what was going to happen, and Chad [Knaus] called me off when he saw the time and when I heard that I dumped the throttle real hard to try and check up and roll through the corner slowly, and when I dumped out of the throttle it pitched the vehicle sideways and I started chasing it going into the turn". You might have a little speed on the front side of the run with cold right-side tires.

"I just didn't feel like I got through turns 1 and 2 like I needed to", Harvick said.

"I think the asphalt itself is going to be a bigger factor in this first race", Johnson said. "We got better each round which is encouraging". Blaney qualified second for the second time in the season's first seven races at 198.020 miles per hour. I think that helps with young drivers. At Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago, drivers would consider getting fresh tires after just a handful of laps because its pavement is the oldest in NASCAR.

Harvick's final round was adventurous to say the least.

And things did get better when the cars came back for qualifying.

Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Larson were unable to pass technical inspection and therefore were not permitted to make a qualifying lap.

Bowyer ended up second, Keselowski third, Logano fourth and Blaney fifth.

Completing the top 10 were Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, and Kurt Busch.

On his first qualifying attempt at the start of the round, he lost grip in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and had to abort his lap.

The Xfinity Series is in the spotlight Saturday with the My Bariatric Solutions 300.

Chase Elliott prepares for a practice session for Sunday's Monster Energy Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 7, 2017.