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.