DENNY HAMLIN/No.11 JGR Toyota ran some laps in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice Friday morning at Phoenix International energy, but saved his energy for final practice. He ran more laps than any other driver, seventy laps – including a twenty-lap run. Hamlin wanted to test his ability for long runs. His post-surgical knee problems include range of motion loss and not being able to bend his knee enough to get it on top of the pedal.

Hamlin’s goal is to know by Lap 50-75 whether he can go the distance in the Saturday night race. If he had to race today, Hamlin said he couldn’t do it. He said “It hurt more when I stopped than when I was running.”

Hamlin and the Joe Gibbs Racing team are working on pain and range of motion issues for the race, but won’t know until tomorrow if they’ll work. Among the things to be done will be draining the accumulated knee fluid, and remove the stitches to improve flexibility.

When asked, Hamlin declined to discuss any specifics concerning his pain medication and the strict NASCAR drug policies.

Hamlin, who had started rehabbing the day after surgery, said it was frustrating – ‘Your mind wants your leg to do one thing, but the leg won’t do it – it’s a delayed reaction every time I try to do something. I’m not doing my best out there. I do what I can, that’s all I can do.”

JEFF GORDON/No.24 Chevrolet said “It’s a challenge on two-day race weekends to learn the track in one set of conditions and race in another. The differing sun/shade conditions are hard on eye adjustment. I haven’t found the perfect fix for finding the track markers. I’d like to see better brake markers in Turn One. This, Martinsville and the road courses, are hard braking tracks.”

Gordon was among many drivers asked by the media about being concerned for their safety with an injured Hamlin racing. Gordon’s concise reply – “It could cause concern for Hamlin, but not as a safety issue for the other drivers.”

Regarding his contact with MATT KENSETH/No.17 Ford two weeks ago at Martinsville, Gordon said he had a talk with Matt. “I’ve got nothing against him. I told him plain and simple – if you hit me, I’m going to hit you back.”

It was only a matter of time. Green has come to Owner/Driver TONY STEWART/No.1 Office Depot Chevrolet, who is sponsored by Office Depot. This is the first time in his entire racing career Stewart has supported having a green paint scheme on his race car. His car is promoting “Growing Greener.” The theme is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day (April 22) and a new partnership between Stewart’s sponsor Office Depot and NextEra Energy Resources – North America’s largest producer of wind and solar power.

Stewart said it’s a lot easier to make a difference than he thought. He and his team have been practicing energy efficiency at the shop and in their homes – they are being smart about resource usage. “It doesn’t take that much effort” said Stewart.

Office Depot is balancing the carbon footprint of the NASCAR Spring Cup Subway Fresh Fit 600 Race (and travel by race teams and fans and track operations) by purchasing EarthEra products, with all revenue used to create renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar power. Also being promoted is greener shipping. YALMAZ SIDDIQUI, Office Depot Director of Environmental Strategy, said “By involving our NASCAR sponsorship, we specifically wanted to move the dialogue on going greener away from its typical niche, to a much wider audience.”

NATE HANSON, EarthEra Energy Resources Vice President Power Marketing is working with the ISC tracks to see how they can go greener, such as installing solar panels on tops of the garages.

Personally, one of the biggest thing I’d like to see done at all race tracks, especially in Media Centers, is to provide smaller beverage containers, as so much of the drinks is not consumed/wasted; and many more recycling bins in many more locations. The US is behind foreign tracks in recycling efforts. My favorite example is the Australian Grand Prix Formula One race, which has had 98 percent recycling rate for the past several years – it recycles everything at its event. All waste and trash goes in one bin and gets sorted after the fact; and vendors are mandated to use ‘green’ items such as utensils, containers, etc.

KURT BUSCH/No 2 Dodge weighed in on the Saturday race conditions. “The race will start earlier and run longer, so there is more driving into the sun and more running in the dark.”

The elder Busch brother’s opinion on why several top drivers spun in the final practice “It could be the spoiler versus the wing.” Stewart said about his Turn Four spin – “I got loose and couldn’t correct fast enough. It was the first time seeing that corner from that view.”

In the Q&A, Busch was asked why drivers weren’t commenting on current events, such as health care, Tiger Woods, taxes, etc. “We’re drivers, not politicians. It’s not for us to comment on political issues. We can’t worry about what’s going on in the world and speak up about it.” There were no more questions after that abrupt comment; so he said “I guess that pretty well wraps that up.”