Menard leads Day One of testing in Phoenix

It was a busy day for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams and drivers that rolled into Phoenix International Raceway Monday morning for the start of a two day test session. The first day of testing for Sprint Cup teams involved three...

It was a busy day for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams and drivers that rolled into Phoenix International Raceway Monday morning for the start of a two day test session.

The first day of testing for Sprint Cup teams involved three test sessions spread out through the day, one morning, one afternoon, and the finale during the evening.

Paul Menard and the No. 15A Chevrolet lead the morning session with his time of 27.442 (131.186 mph); it was also the quickest mark set during all the sessions combined. The No. 42 Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya had the second quickest time of the morning session with a 27.454 (131.128 mph) and continues to show pace only during testing sessions. J.J. Yeley in the No. 96A Toyota was third quick in the morning session with a 27.468 (131.062 mph). Menard, Montoya, and Yeley were the only three drivers to time in above the 131 mile per hour mark.

Of the rookies in the morning session, it was Regan Smith in the No. 01A Chevrolet that had the best time. Smith clocked in with a 27.669 (130.110 mph) and it was good enough for 12th overall. Dario Franchitti in the No. 40X who has been struggling this season was the second quickest rookie with a 27.838 (129.32 mph) and Michael McDowell who will be taking over the #00 clocked in 18th overall in the No. 44A with a 27.850 (129.264 mph).

Menard was the fastest Chevy, Montoya was the quickest Dodge, and Yeley had the best time of a Toyota. The quickest Ford though was the No. 6A of David Ragan who ran a 27.783 (129.576 mph) and it was good enough for 17th overall.

Only 25 cars took part in the morning session and the No. 10A of Patrick Carpentier was the slowest with a 28.468 (126.458 mph) in his Dodge.

The afternoon session saw slower speeds and new names at the top of the chart. Clint Bower in the No. 07A Chevrolet took the fastest time of the afternoon session with a 27.645 (130.222 mph) and was followed by Dave Blaney in the No. 22A Toyota with a 27.657 (130.166 mph). Martin Truex Jr. was third quick in his No. 1A Chevy with a 27.673 (130.091 mph) and only the top five cars posted times quicker than 130 miles per hour.

With Bowyer as the fastest Chevy during the afternoon session, and Blaney as the fastest Toyota, it was Kurt Busch coming off a disappointment in Las Vegas to have the quickest mark for a Dodge with a time good enough for fourth overall. Ku. Busch ran a 27.673 (130.091 mph) in the No. 2A which was identical to the time posted by the No. 1A. with Ragan who once again had the quickest time for a Ford and improved in the afternoon session for a mark quick enough for seventh overall. Ragan posted a 27.712 (129.908 mph) in the No. 6A.

Sixty cars took to the track during the afternoon session and the quickest rookie was once again Smith in the No. 01A Chevy with a 27.919 (128.944 mph); although Smith's time was only good enough for 30th overall with more cars timing in.

Slowest on the day was the No. 49A Dodge of Ken Schrader who timed in 60th overall with a 28.835 (124.848 mph), while the quickest driver without a ride (A.J. Allmendinger) timed in 25th overall with a 27.884 (129.106 mph) in the No. 84A Toyota. Mike Skinner will temporarily replace Allmendinger, according Red Bull starting with this coming weekend's Atlanta race.

"We're at a crossroads where we need to make a change that will elevate the No. 84 team to success," said VP and General Manager Jay Frye. "AJ's our guy and he's a talented driver, but there's a lot being asked of him. In order for him to be successful, we have to get this team pointed in the right direction. We hope we can do that with the help of a veteran driver."

The evening session proved to bring the competition closer as teams and drivers started to get more comfortable in their equipment. Truex Jr. in the No. 1A posted the quickest time for the evening session in his Chevrolet with a 27.623 (130.326 mph) and was followed by Kevin Harvick in the No. 29A Chevy with a 27.628 (130.303 mph). Third quick during the evening session was Denny Hamlin in the No. 11A Toyota with a 27.636 (130.265 mph).

Ku. Busch was once again the quickest Dodge timing in sixth best overall in his No. 2A with a 27.641 (130.241 mph) and Jamie McMurray took the reigns from Ragan becoming the quickest Ford in the evening session in his No. 26A with a 27.667 (130.119 mph), good enough for tenth overall. Truex Jr. was the fastest Chevy while Hamlin was quickest amongst the Toyota's.

McDowell was quickest of the rookies during the evening session with a 27.785 (129.566 mph) in the No. 44A Toyota and Carpentier was slowest of the 58 cars that posted a time during the evening session with a 28.548 (126.103 mph) in the No. 10B Dodge.

Day Two of testing continues tomorrow at Phoenix International Raceway.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya