Here are a few notes to get us started:
• Press conferences begin at 12:50 p.m. ET with the aforementioned Kyle Busch.
• First practice is at 3:30 p.m. ET.
• Qualifying begins at 7 p.m. ET
12:50 p.m. ET: As Kyle Busch sat down in the media center, he received a package from Denny Hamlin's sponsor - a certain delivery company. Inside was a bag of M&Ms and a pair of boxing gloves.
He didn't seem amused.
If you thought Joe Gibbs had muted the tension between Busch and Hamlin after their incident in the All-Star race, there's clearly still tension, at least in Busch's mind. Almost a week after the incident, Busch still isn't shying away from explaining his displeasure with Hamlin.
"It surprised me the way my teammate wanted to race me," Busch said. "If the roles were reversed, I wouldn't have done the same thing."
When asked directly if he's "good" with Hamlin, Busch said. "I'm over the Denny Hamlin issue. It's done. We're moving forward. ... We're going to work together."
When asked if he regrets saying over his radio last Saturday that he was going to "kill" Denny Hamlin, Busch responded, "Do I regret what I said over the radio, absolutely not. It was heat of the moment. That's who I am. ... It wasn't joking, but it wasn't going to happen."
2:15: Jeff Burton on the Busch-Hamlin incident: "What Denny did Saturday night was completely expected by the field, but when it's your teammate, it hurts your feelings. If the roles were reversed, the same thing would have happened, accept when it happens with your teammate you expect more. But at end of the day, you have to goo out and try to win the race for your team.
Burton added that teammates get mad at each other more than competitors for this exact reason - that you expect your teammate to cut you some slack.
Burton likes racing with Kyle. "I know he's going to be aggressive, he's going to come at me, but I'm good with that."
2:55: Mark Martin is always singled out as a driver who races with respect - who doesn't tear up his or your equipment. Thursday, he provided a very good explanation of where that respect came from.
In his early years racing on local tracks around Wisconsin, he would race just about every day. He didn't have a back-up car, and winning only paid about $400, so if he wrecked, it pretty much meant missing the next race and maybe some more if he couldn't afford to fix his car. It was the same for all of the competitors, so they developed a code: don't wreck each other.
Burton says Busch doesn't wreck people. He may put himself in position to wreck, and that may take you out, but he doesn't wreck his competitors.
4:10: Carl Edwards is going to a backup car after slamming the wall during the first practice session.
5:00: Juan Pablo Montoya clocked the fastest lap in the first practice (184.679 mph). Montoya was 0.2 seconds faster than the field. Rounding out the top 10 was Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton and Joey Logano.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch