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, 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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