Updated: Kyle Larson, Joey Logano fastest in opening Phoenix test sessions
Even though most of the attention centered on Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the two-day NASCAR test opened up Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway, there were plenty of other drivers who took their cars to the track as well.
Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in the first session, turning it in 26.586 seconds at the 1-mile venue. But Joey Logano, who had the second-fastest overall lap (26.595), was the fastest for the most laps — recording 19 of the fastest 22 lap times in the opening morning session and the fastest overall time in the second (26.674).
Earnhardt, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, missed the last half of last season because of a concussion. He was cleared by NASCAR to return behind the wheel after a December test at Darlington Raceway, and Tuesday marked another important step on his comeback trail.
Earnhardt has repeatedly said that he is ready to go full throttle for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, which will be televised live on FOX. He was fifth-fastest in the opening test session at Phoenix, turning a lap in 26.807 seconds. He improved to third-fastest in the second session with a best lap time of 26.774 seconds.
Also in attendance Tuesday at PIR was Carl Edwards, who recently shocked the racing world by announcing that he was stepping away from NASCAR. He was on hand to help his replacement in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Daniel Suarez, navigate his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series test.
Suarez’s top lap in the opening session ranked 14th on the speed chart, so there obviously is work to do. But he did move up two spots to 12th-fastest in the second session.
The unofficial top lap speeds of the participants in the opening session of the Phoenix test on Tuesday were as follows:
- Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) — 26.586 seconds
- Joey Logano (Team Penske) — 26.595
- Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) — 26.774
- Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) — 26.799
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) — 26.807
- Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports) — 26.845
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing) — 26.854
- Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) — 26.876
- AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing) — 26.896
- Erik Jones (Furniture Row Racing) — 26.898
- Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing) — 26.965
- Ty Dillon (Germain) — 26.976
- Alex Bowman (Chevy wheel force) — 27.027
- Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing) — 27.125
- JJ Yeley (Toyota wheel force) — 27.186
Note: Landon Cassill participated in the test in a Ford wheel force, but did not have a time recorded.
And here were the unofficial times for the second session:
- Joey Logano (Penske Racing) — 26.674
- Ty Dillon (Germain Racing) — 26.722
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) — 26.774
- Kyle Larson (Ganassi Racing) — 26.788
- Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) — 26.802
- Erik Jones (Furniture Row Racing) — 26.808
- Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) — 26.885
- Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports) — 26.965
- Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) — 26.997
- AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing) — 27.043
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing) — 27.045
- Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing) — 27.085
- Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing) — 27.142
- Alex Bowman (Chevy wheel force) — 27.276
- JJ Yeley (Toyota wheel force) — 27.286
- Landon Cassill (Ford wheel force) — 27.680