MIKE SKINNER was fastest overall in the practice sessions for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Thursday at Phoenix International Raceway, with a speed of 131.057mph on the one-mile oval.

Skinner, the first champion in the twelve-year history of the series, turned his time in the last few minutes of the early evening session, with a cool track to lower the times. MARK MARTIN was quickest in the first session with a speed of 128.173mph, but he ran his best in the early afternoon. ALIC ALMIROLA was fastest in the rookie practice, in the mid-afternoon, at 127.909mph.

Qualifying is Friday morning for the Craftsman Truck Series Casino Arizona 150 race on Friday evening. There are 35 entries so all will make the 36-truck field. Five drivers have to qualify based on time. There are eight rookies in the race. There are six past Truck champions running the series and they are all in the top eleven in points: TED MUSGRAVE is fourth; two-time champion RON HORNADAY sixth; three-time champion JACK SPRAGUE eighth; Skinner tenth and MIKE BLISS.

On Thursday at Firebird Raceway, I participated in a GM-sponsored media event put on by the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Three top Nextel Cup drivers joined us. I can now say that I've driven with CLINT BOWYER, KYLE BUSCH and DENNY HAMLIN, and can add that I've been passed by the best. I'm told that my performance was 'memorable'.

Talking about my driving ability, let's just say that DANICA PATRICK is not in danger of losing her job. Given the chance, the newly-signed Andretti Green Racing driver in the Indy Racing League might tell me not to give up my day job.

All three young lions are running a full Busch Series and Nextel Cup season, and they all have had a run at racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. Bowyer, Cup rookie driver in #07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing has only three starts in the Truck Series, with one victory already, last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch, 2005 Nextel Cup rookie champion, has 24 Truck starts, four wins and a pole position. He drives the #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet in the Cup Series, while Cup rookie Hamlin has raced six Truck races.

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