Friday morning was sunny and warmish for the opening of the NASCAR Garages for the four-race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. The usual bustle was on-going in the Sprint Cup Garage – prepping cars, going through Tech and getting out to Pit Road for the first Friday Sprint Cup practices at 11am local time/1pm ET. Qualifying is at 4:45pm/6:45pm for Sunday’s 1pm/3pm race.
The NASCAR groups running at PIR are: K&N Pro Series West, who ran all day Thursday, ending with its race; Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, and Sprint Cup.
Forty-four Sprint Cup drivers are entered for the 43-car field. Nationwide has 41 entries, and Camping World Trucks have 34 entries.
Perhaps even more interesting than Friday morning Cup practice will be the Friday morning Media Opportunities for selected drivers – chosen by NASCAR for their relativity to story lines – with a major topic being the Texas Brawl post-Cup race last Sunday. Friday’s Media lineup includes, in chronological order: Kyle Larson/No.41 Target Chevrolet; Aric Almirola No.43 Farmland Ford; Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford; Ryan Newman No.31 Caterpillar Chevrolet; Jimmie Johnson No.48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet; Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet; Carl Edwards No.99 Fastenal Ford; Jeff Gordon No.24 Axalta Chevrolet and then post-qualifying will be Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford.
More Boys Behaving Badly – allegedly: Kurt Busch No.41 Haas Automation Chevrolet is being investigated by the Dover Police for alleged domestic abuse against Patricia Driscoll, President of the Armed Forces Foundations, which had associated with Busch. That association is now suspended.
Stewart-Haas released a statement, saying “This is an allegation Stewart-Haas Racing takes very seriously, but we’re still gathering all of the facts and are not in a position to comment in greater detail.”
Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, sent a email during Sprint Cup Practice regarding the Dover Police Department Release. “NASCAR is aware of the investigation involving driver Kurt Busch. We recognize the seriousness of this matter and are actively gathering information from all parties, including law enforcement authorities and Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment further on this matter until we have more information.”
In the 90-minute Cup practice, Kurt Busch was fastest for awhile, followed by his brother, Kyle Busch No.18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota. But by session’s end, Harvick was fastest at 25.438/1:41.521 mph, followed by Larson-who pipped Keselowski at the very last second; Kurt Busch in P4 and Dale Earnhardt Jr No.88 Kelly Blue Book Chevrolet.
Next up for Cup will be qualifying nearly five hours after practice.