This season is all about firsts, and that continues this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The Cup Series rolled into St. Louis for the first time today after the track held Xfinity Series races from 1997-2010 and Camping World Truck Series races since 1998. The tricky 1.25-mile oval will certainly be a handful for teams and drivers this weekend.

Because this is their first trip here, drivers received some extra practice time today. A 50-minute practice session allowed them to get familiar with the egg-shaped circuit ahead of qualifying tomorrow morning. When the clock expired, it was Team Penske that swept the top three spots on the speed chart.

Joey Logano led the way with a best lap of 32.906 seconds, followed closely by Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric. Kurt Busch and Erik Jones rounded out the top five, leading the way for Toyota and Chevrolet respectively. Completing the top ten were Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, and Kyle Busch.

The first practice was an eventful one, and not necessarily in a good way. Several drivers spun during the session, with flat left-rear tires being the common thread. The biggest moment came about halfway through when Bubba Wallace had a tire go down, then Parker Kligerman's car caught fire pulling into the garage area, bringing out the red flag. He was okay but the same could not be said for Rick Ware Racing's No. 15 Ford Mustang.

There are several storylines to keep an eye on this weekend at Gateway. While the track is new to the Cup cars, there are plenty of drivers that have a solid amount of experience racing here. Among the 36 drivers on the entry list, 22 of them have made at least one Xfinity or Truck start here. Nine of those 22 have made it to victory lane.

One of those drivers is Cole Custer, who won the 2015 Truck race. “It gives you a little bit of confidence,” Custer said. “I haven’t run the track since 2016 so I’ve never run on the repave. So that’s going to be interesting. One end is extremely tight, and then you have the other end that’s really similar to maybe New Hampshire or Phoenix where it’s really wide and sweeping, so just kind of have to get used to the repave. I think I have an idea of the race track from using the Ford simulator, but the repave is definitely going to be different than what I was used to.”

Qualifying will set the field tomorrow, but then the cars will not see the track again until they take the green flag on Sunday. When the flag waves, Martin Truex Jr will become the 32nd driver in NASCAR history to make at least 600 career starts in the Cup Series. The only other active drivers in that class are Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Kurt Busch.

Today’s practice was a very good sign for Team Penske, who have struggled this season and desperately need to have a solid weekend. Between their three drivers, they have just one top-ten finish in the last five points races. All three drivers crashed out of last week's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and next weekend at Sonoma is a great unknown.

Kyle Busch comes into Gateway with a little bit of momentum on his side. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished runner-up last weekend at Charlotte and was 3rd at Darlington before that. He won the Xfinity race here back in 2009 and is hoping to find his way back to victory lane on Sunday.

“Gateway is very tight, very narrow,” Busch said. “It can be slick, too, from what I understand talking with my KBM Truck Series guys. The long back straightaway getting into Turns 3 and 4, which is a huge, wide, sweeping turn, and a completely different way of driving both of those corners.”

His teammate Christopher Bell is another driver to keep an eye on this weekend. He has finished inside the top-six in each of his last four races, which is a career-best. The No. 20 car has had speed all season and is finally cleaning up the loose ends. Bell continues to knock on the door and should be a factor in the race on Sunday.

World Wide Technology Raceway has already sold out tickets for Sunday's inaugural race. One person that will not be there is Roush Fenway Keselowski driver Chris Buescher. The team will have Zane Smith in the No. 17 Ford Mustang as Buescher recently tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the race. Buescher currently sits 21st in the points standings, 14 points below Kurt Busch and one point above Michael McDowell.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr has finished inside the top-ten in each of his last four races, a career-long streak and the first time JTG Daugherty Racing has accomplished that feat. Denny Hamlin won another Crown Jewel race last weekend, and hopes to become the first repeat winner this season.

"It’s going to be a challenge," Hamlin said. "I think track position is going to be very important just based off of how this car races on flatter tracks. We’ll be shifting quite a bit, so that could make passing pretty difficult. But besides the on-track stuff, I’m excited to be going to a new market getting to race in front of fans who may not have seen us race before."

Kyle Larson is currently riding a 12-race winless streak, his longest since joining Hendrick Motorsports. Still, he is considered the favorite by odds-makers heading into the weekend. Larson is given +800 odds, or an implied 11.1 percent chance to win the race. This marks the 11th time this season that Larson has been named the betting favorite.

Qualifying begins at 11:00 ET tomorrow morning, and will air on FS1.