Friday is Media Day at Phoenix International Raceway. We'll bring you the news and notes from all the day's press conferences and happenings on the track. Check back often today to keep up with the latest.
Some notes to get us started:
• Denny Hamlin is here and hopes to be in the car for all 375 laps. We'll have an update on the condition of his surgically repaired knee as the day progresses.
• They've added 63 laps to this year's race to ensure the event, which will start an hour earlier than in the past, will finish under the lights.
8:45 a.m. PT: Clint Bowyer began his media session talking about the spoiler, saying, "We're all waiting for Texas to see how the spoiler impacts things."
8:49: When asked about how pit strategy might come into play, particularly after what transpired at Bristol a few weeks ago, Bowyer explained that he left the race early, having blown his engine 56 laps in. "I was fuelling up my truck at the Flying J and the cashier looked at me and said, "What the hell are you doing here?"
8:52: When asked about Hamlin's knee, Bowyer replied, "I hope it doesn't give out with me in front of him."
9:01: Jeff Burton thinks the added distance will have an impact on the race. He doesn’t know what it is, but said that the longer a race goes on, the more chances there are for something to happen.
9:11: Burton thinks the spoiler will have an "impact for sure." He said there's been an escalation. There wasn't much of an impact at Martinsville. There will be a little impact at Phoenix and a big impact next week at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I say it's going to have an impact, but I don't know how." Burton added that he knows how it will drive by itself, but he doesn't know how it will respond in traffic.
9:40: Juan Pablo Montoya says his is a top-five team, they’ve just run into a string of bad luck. He’s confident they can climb back in the Chase hunt because they are running near the front every week.
10:10: First practice is underway. Denny Hamlin is in his car but is still in the garage. He walked through the garage without the aid of crutches, but with a slight limp. He was able to get in his car under his own power.
10:20: Hamlin is on the track and so far is running some quick laps. He’s around the top 10.
11:34: Tony Stewart spun out during practice, but he did not hit anything. He should be okay.
11:56: The first practice is over and … Denny Hamlin sits atop the speed chart. Hamlin’s fast lap was part of a qualifying run near the end of practice. Other drivers have yet to make their qualifying runs. Hamlin split time during practice with Casey Mears, who is standing by as a backup just in case Hamlin can’t got the distance Saturday night.
Rounding out the top 10 in the first of two practice sessions: Michael McDowell, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart.
1:18 p.m.: About 45 minutes into the final practice, Jimmie Johnson spun around. It didn’t look like he did any damage to his car.
1:20: Denny Hamlin continues to sit near the top of the speed charts, though it’s obvious he’s experiencing some pain in his left knee. Earlier in the day, he walked to his car with a small, but noticeable limp. Later, when walking from his car to his hauler, the limp was noticeably more pronounced. He will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. PT.
2:10: Jeff Gordon led the way in the final practice before qualifying. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart.