Action-filled practice has teams scrambling

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 18: Cars line pit road during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 18: Cars line pit road during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 18: Cars line pit road during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn.—Roughly eight minutes into Saturday morning’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, Tony Stewart smacked the outside wall exiting Bristol Motor Speedway’s fourth turn.

That was just the opening act in a series of mishaps that punctuated the opening session at Thunder Valley.

Seven minutes after Stewart hit the wall, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun, damaging his own No. 17 Ford and nicking the No. 19 Toyota of former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards in the process.

Fighting a loose handling condition in his No. 48 Chevrolet, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson scraped the wall later in the session.

The good news for all four drivers was that none had to roll out a backup car. Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet sustained the heaviest damage, but his crew worked diligently to repair the rear deck of the car, and Stewart was back on track with enough time to complete 56 laps in the session—24 before the wreck and 32 after.

Of the four drivers, Edwards was fastest in Saturday’s first session, running 125.889 mph on his fourth lap (before the incident with Stenhouse). Johnson was 10th fastest, with Stewart 24th and Stenhouse 31st.

Kasey Kahne paced the early-morning practice with a fast lap at 126.829 mph. Kurt Busch (127.554 mph) topped the speed chart in final practice, which was incident-free.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.