Tony Stewart led the first official Car of Tomorrow practice session at the Talladega Superspeedway on Friday morning as the Nextel Cup teams started to get to grips with the combination of the 2.66-mile restrictor plate track and NASCAR's latest machine.

Although many drivers had their concerns over the way the new cars handled the flat-out 200mph + Superspeedway in restrictor plate trim it didn't stop the majority of the field from running in the draft and testing the rigidity of the Car of Tomorrow front bumper as several drivers were cited by NASCAR for being too aggressive.

Fourth in the current Chase for the Championship standings, Stewart's session leading time of 49.118secs equated to an average speed of 194.959mph in his #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet, just ahead of Jeff Gordon, who won April's Aaron's 499 at the Alabama venue in his #24 Hendrick Motorsports example.

Third fastest was veteran Ken Schrader in the #21 Wood Brothers Ford with Robby Gordon fourth and Kyle Petty fifth in the leading Dodge. Kasey Kahne, outgoing Chip Ganassi driver David Stremme, Martin Truex Jr, Kansas winner Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton rounded out the top ten.

Of the remaining title contenders Carl Edwards was 13th fastest, Denny Hamlin 19th before NASCAR asked him to park for the final minutes of the session after he was deemed to have been too aggressive in his bump drafting, Clint Bowyer 24th, Kurt Busch 26th, Kyle Busch 28th, point leader Jimmie Johnson 29th, Matt Kenseth 31st and Kevin Harvick 32nd.

In his first Nextel Cup practice session Jacques Villeneuve was 42nd fastest of the 51 drivers in attendance but crucially the driver of the #27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota was eighth of the non-top 35 teams. The fastest eight 'go or go home' drivers in Bud Pole qualifying will make it into the 43 car starting line-up for Sunday's UAW-Ford 500. Sam Hornish Jr was 48th fastest.


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