[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”266″][/media-credit]Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart was the fastest man during the first practice session here at the Phoenix International Raceway earlier today. Stewart, who comes into this race after a disappointing 16th place finish at the Daytona 500, has one victory at this track which he claimed during his rookie season back in 1999. Stewart also has three runner-up finishes at Phoenix where he finished behind Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin respectively.
Speaking of Mark Martin he was our surprise of the day. Martin was second quickest in his #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota. It looked like Martin would leave on top of the sheets, but Tony Stewart unloaded his fastest lap just before the red flag flew to end Session 1. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are both coming off disappointing finishes during the season-opening Daytona 500. They led 1-2 at the beginning of the session for about ten laps, but the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates ended up 17th and 24th fastest.
Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth was tenth quickest just behind his Roush-Fenway teammate Greg Biffle who had the fastest car for the majority of the practice but ended up in third position.
Other notables include: Newman (4th), Kahne (5th), Montoya (6th), Kyle Busch (7th), Logano (8th), McMurray (9th), Edwards (16th), Jr. (31st).
Greg Biffle will be a man to watch on Sunday. Teammate Carl Edwards was just in the media center and noted that Biffle looks like he has a really great car for Sunday. “It looks like Biffle is extremely fast in practice, so we’ll lean on him a little bit.”
Jimmie Johnson knew this was coming, but he got a question from me regarding the penalties. “How much did Knaus’ previous infractions have on the current penalty? His answer: That’d require me to speculate. Take that question to NASCAR.