Full practice 1 results from Phoenix International Raceway

With the need for an outright win first and foremost in his mind, Chase contender Kevin Harvick made the best start posible to his weekend at Phoenix International Raceway by posting the best time of anyone in the sole Sprint Cup practice session on Friday ahead of evening qualifying for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the top spot with a fastest lap of 25.438s (141.521mph), putting him firmly in contention to claim what would be a third consecutive victory at the one-mile, low-banked tri-oval race track located in Avondale, Arizona.

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Currently sitting bottom of the standings among the eight drivers still in the running for this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Harvick needs a win this weekend if he's to guarantee himself a spot in the final four competing for the 2014 title next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I think it would leave a lot less in everybody else's hands," said Harvick about what winning would mean to him. "I think we are very capable of winning this race and we have been fortunate to have a lot of success here in the past from my driving side and the first race this year. That would be the easiest way to do it."

Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson was second fastest in the session, just nine thousandths of a second off Harvick's pace. Third fastest was one of Harvick's biggest Chase rivals for a spot in next week's winner-take-call title decider, Penske's Brad Keselowski. Harvick's SHR team mate Kurt Busch was fourth fastest, just ahead of Dale Earnhardt jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Denny Hamlin was the next-fastest Chase contender in eighth place just ahead of Keselowski's team mate Joey Logano, meaning that four of the eight driver still in contention were n the top ten. Just falling outside were Hendrick Motorsport's Jeff Gordon in 12th and Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Matt Kenseth in 13th.

Having disappointing early runs at Phoenix were Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards and Richard Childress Racing's Ryan Newman who set the 25th and 27th fastest times respectively, with Edwards none too happy with the pace of the #99 Ford.

"Practice did not go well for us," he admitted. "It was not good, so we've got some work to do. We didn't do any race trim, so there's still hope for our race trim, but qualifying trim was not good. It's just like last week, we're not gonna quit. We're just gonna go give 100 percent and hopefully we can find something by this evening. Jimmy [Fennig, crew chief] and the guys are working really hard on it."

Qualifying takes place on Friday evening at 4.45m local time (11.45pm GMT), with two further practice sessions on Saturday before the 312-lap Cup race itself gets underway on Sunday afternoon shortly after 1pm (8pm GMT).

Full practice 1 results from Phoenix International Raceway

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