Logano Paces Cup Series Practice In The Desert


Joey Logano in action Friday at Phoenix Raceway. (John Harrelson/Nigel Kinrade Photography)

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joey Logano extended his early-season single-lap speed for another week in the NASCAR Cup Series, topping Friday practice at Phoenix Raceway.

Driving the No. 22 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford for Team Penske, Logano turned a best lap of 27.446 seconds (131.166 mph) around the one-mile desert oval. He turned a total of 55 laps in the 50-minute practice.

“Our Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang is fast. That always makes it fun,” said Logano. “Definitely a lot of slipping and sliding as the tires fall off. This track has become more and more racey and it’s widening out.

”The ‘old’ Phoenix from years and years ago is starting to come back - this package seems to be a little bit more in that direction, as there’s less downforce and a little bit more off-throttle time.”

With Kevin Harvick’s retirement at the end of last season, Logano is tied with Kyle Busch among active drivers with the most wins in the Valley of the Sun, with three Phoenix victories to his credit.

While Logano was at the top of the charts, the manufacturer that made the most waves by bulk in Friday’s practice was Toyota, with seven of the eight Camry XSEs inside the top 12 on the speed charts.

That group was led by two-time Phoenix winner Denny Hamlin, second quickest at 27.464 seconds (131.081 mph) in the No. 11 Mavis Brakes Plus Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, with 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick third despite a late spin and Legacy Motor Club’s John Hunter Nemechek in fourth.

Logano’s teammate Austin Cindric gave Ford a second car in the top five, followed by the second Legacy Motor Club Toyota of Erik Jones in sixth.

Chase Elliott was the fastest Chevrolet in practice, going seventh-best overall at 27.534 seconds (130.747 mph) on his last of 48 laps, with Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, and rookie Carson Hocevar closing the top 10.

Notables deeper on the speed charts included Atlanta winner Daniel Suarez (15th), Las Vegas winner Kyle Larson (20th), Daytona 500 winner William Byron (24th), and three-time Phoenix winner Busch, who was a disappointing 31st on the day in the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Richard Childress Racing.

Aside from Reddick’s long, smoky spin through turns three and four, the only other incident was when Daniel Hemric backed his Kaulig Racing Chevrolet into the outside wall.

Despite the contact, crew chief Trent Owens did not believe – per a Kaulig statement late in practice – that Hemric would be forced to a backup car for the remainder of the race weekend.

Friday’s practice session was extended from 20 minutes to a full 50 minutes for all cars because of the new short-track aerodynamic package – featuring a simplified rear diffuser with fewer vertical strakes and a three-inch tall rear spoiler – that debuts in race conditions Sunday afternoon.

Qualifying for the Shriner’s Childrens 500 at Phoenix Raceway is slated for 2 p.m. ET Saturday, with live coverage on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.