Sunday, February 28, 2010

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Doesn't Disappoint as The Greatest Show in Town

What an awesome spectacle it was in Las Vegas for the 13th annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. Everything from the pre-race ceremonies which included several bands that play on the strip to the USAF Thunderbirds flying over multiple times made the day live up to the Vegas standard.


That Vegas standard is one that elevates the race over many others on tour just because of the vibe it creates. The race itself was somewhat slow and uneventful, but is that really why we go to the races?

Isn’t the NASCAR scene more about being with friends and having some drinks on a beautiful afternoon? On Sunday, I was with 150,000 of my closest friends and enjoyed every moment of it.

The day was absolutely glorious at a nice 60 degrees with the sun shining and a slight cool breeze.

NASCAR President Brian France was walking around the Neon Garage an hour before the race and had to be amazed by what he saw with all the fans being so close to the action, and presented in a way that no where else on tour does.

There aren’t too many tracks around where you’ll find Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Hannah Montana impersonators walking through the garages.

Jimmie Johnson won for the fourth time in Vegas, but he and his team deserved it. Jeff Gordon led for just about the entire race, but couldn’t hold on down the stretch thanks to some brilliant pit work by the No. 48 team who got Johnson out on their last pit stop with four tires and restarted fourth.

Jeff Gordon took only two tires and was a sitting duck while leading with 17 laps to go. The two teammates battled for many laps until Gordon finally gave way to the inevitable.

Many of the Las Vegas books did very well to the race just because the favorite won. Johnson closed at most books around 4 to 1 odds. While he was still bet a lot by the public just because he is Superman, the action was much more brisk on several other drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr and the Vegas Busch Brothers, all whom qualified very well.

The Kim Kardashian pink car touting her new perfume was driven by Mike Bliss and lasted only about 10 laps before needing a lift to the garage. Despite the early finish, that car got more publicity for the small fee they paid for the one race than any kind of print or television ad could have produced.

It’s too bad the weekend has come and gone so quickly and that fans all over the country, myself included, have to wait another year for the ultimate NASCAR experience again.

Johnson Reels in Gordon To Win 4th Time in Las Vegas

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Jimmie Johnson needed luck to win a week ago at Fontana. In Las Vegas, a city of chance, he didn't need any help at all.

Johnson reeled in teammate Jeff Gordon, who had dominated Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to win for the second consecutive week. Johnson took four tires on the final pit stop, chased Gordon for 17 laps, then finally sailed past his Hendrick Motorsports teammate with 17 laps to go to wrap up the win.

"No luck involved in that one, my friend," crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson.

The win was the 49th victory of Johnson's career and fourth at Las Vegas. It also made the four-time defending champion the all-time winningest driver on 1.5-mile speedways with 15 victories -- one more than Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty.

Gordon dominated the race, leading 218 of the 267 laps while searching for his first victory in almost a year. He was out front when Kevin Conway's spin brought out the final caution, and debated pitting strategy with crew chief Steve Letarte.

The call was made at the last second for Gordon to come in, and Letarte changed just two tires to get Gordon back on track before the competition. Knaus called for four tires in a decision that put Johnson in fourth on the restart.

Read More Here......

Las Vegas Top 5 Finishers
1. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2. Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
3. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
4. Mark Martin, Chevrolet
5. Matt Kenseth, Ford

Dale Jr. After 16th Place Finish: "We're Not Stupid"

by Jeff Gluck
SBNation.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th at Las Vegas, which wasn't exactly his idea of a good time.

But it wasn't all bad, either, as Earnhardt Jr. moved up to 15th in points and is in decent position heading out of the West Coast swing.

So will it be baby steps for his team at this point?

"I hope not," Earnhardt Jr. answered quickly. "I don't want it to be, you know? We're not [freaking] stupid, you know? We made a lot of dumb shit happen last year. I think we're a better team, we're mentally prepared to run these races."

Earnhardt Jr. ran around or in the top 10 until about two-thirds through the race, when he was lapped by then-leader Jeff Gordon.

He took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap after a caution and gained a few positions, but couldn't make up much more ground.

"Once you get outside that top five, man, it's just so hard," he said. "The air is gone off the cars and you're just at the mercy of what's going on around you and there's no downforce. It just feels so much better running in the top five and I just couldn't keep it there."

His pit crew didn't help either. It lost a few positions for him on pit road – and the driver said he lost a few on the track as well.
 
Read More Here......

Las Vegas Driver Ratings: Busch Brothers Should Battle Martin for Vegas Win

by Micah Roberts
Las Vegas Review-Journal

The frenzied pace the crews of each driver were exhibiting during Saturday’s final practices were a matter of knowing that practice could be wiped away by rain at any moment. Most of the drivers ran several laps with race trim on Friday before qualifying just with anticipation that Saturday’s all important practice would be rained out.


The second official NASCAR Cup series practice could be construed as the most important practice because of most teams feeling there wouldn’t be much practice and attempted to put out there best stuff with no gimmicks or, “let’s try this” type of attitudes.

Both Saturday practices went through without any rain or obstruction, but the urgency teams placed on the second practice holds a lot of weight when attempting to determine who looks to be the best candidate to win on Sunday.

In the first Saturday practice, Las Vegan Kyle Busch not only had the fastest single lap of the day, but he also had the best average times of the session. Not far behind was his brother with the third best times, Kurt Busch, who is pole sitting Sunday, and had the most laps run of all early practice session drivers with 37.

The big story coming into the week was the resurgence of all the Childress drivers and how their success last week at California could easily translate into success this week. Both are down force tracks that require lots of horsepower and that is exactly what the Childress cars exhibited more than any other team last week.

However, practice has been a different story for at least two-thirds of the team. Clint Bowyer is using a chassis he ran twice last season with mediocre results, but he looked the best and showed that he should be capable of getting a top-5 finish and possibly a win with his great practice sessions Saturday.

Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton are a completely different story. The two Childress drivers who battled for the win last week were less than stellar in practice times, and that may be putting it mildly. Each brought new chassis’ this week and both teams never got the hang of things throughout each session.

Both have the engines to compete and do well Sunday, but they’re going to need a lot of in-race adjustments to get their cars going at the same pace this weeks top contenders.

Read More on the Vegas Race Here......

Listen to Archived Vegas Post Practice Ratings on Radio Here.....

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kurt Busch Sits on the Pole at Home in Las Vegas for First Time Ever

Las Vegan Kurt Busch sits on the Shelby American pole as he blisters the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's track record with a top speed of 188.719 mph. This is Busch's first start within the top-10 at his home track and it was apparent in the media center that he was very emotional and affected by the accomplishment as he fought back tears.

Kurt's brother, Kyle Busch, won the pole and race last season. This will be the third straight year that a Busch brother will be starting from the front. What's even more cool is that Steve Addington, Kurt's crew chief, was the one piloting Kyle's car in this race last season.

Tough battle between the brothers, but hopefully it unfolds better than the gangstar attitude a few in Las Vegas get to roll their shine on.

See the entire Starting Lineup here....

Chassis Selections: Las Vegas Shelby American

by Jeff Wackerlin
MotorRacingNetwork.com

1. Kevin Harvick: Best finish in nine starts came in 2008 in fourth; 14.3 average finish in the three races on the track's new configuration; Has yet to lead a lap since 2004; Will drive a new car (chassis No. 299) in the Shelby American.


2. Clint Bowyer: Coming off first top 10 in four starts with a second-place finish; Led nine laps in 2009; 22.0 average finish (15.0 with COT) in the three starts on the track's new configuration; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 277) that finished 21st at Kansas last fall.

3. Greg Biffle: Finished eighth or better in four of his last five starts; 8.7 average finish (5.0 with COT) in the three starts on the track's new configuration; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 608) that raced in the All-Star race last season.

4. Jamie McMurray: Only top five (fourth) came with Chip Ganassi racing in 2004; Posted a 14.7 average finish in three starts with Roush Fenway Racing on the track's new configuration; Finished ninth last year in last track start with RFR; Will race chassis No. 070 this weekend in his Vegas return with Ganassi; This car saw its best finish in 2009 with driver Martin Truex Jr. at Homestead in ninth.

5. Jeff Burton: Best track on the circuit based on 9.8 average finish in 12 starts; Won two races (1999, 2000) with Roush Racing; Last five starts have come with Richard Childress Racing; 7.7 average finish in the three races on the track's new configuration; Will pilot a new car (chassis No. 293) in the Shelby American.

6. Mark Martin: Winner of the inaugural race; Has finished in the top 10 in nine of his 12 starts; All three of his starts (18.3 average finish) in a Chevrolet came on the track's new configuration; Finished 40th last year in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports after the engine expired; Will race the same car (chassis No. 555) that finished fourth at Texas last fall.

7. Matt Kenseth: Two-time winner on old track configuration; Leads all drivers in laps led with 438; 23.3 average finish and led 71 laps on the new Vegas track configuration.

8. David Reutimann: Finished fourth last year for first career top five in the Cup Series; Qualified fourth in 2009; Finished 37th in first start in 2008 to give him an average finish of 20.5; Has yet to lead a lap.

9. Joey Logano: Finished 13th in first start in 2009; Will drive the same car (chassis No. 252) that finished 14th and 12th at Richmond and Martinsville, respectively.

10. Carl Edwards: Winner of the 2008 race; Led 86 of his 91 career laps at LVMS en route to the win; Fourth-best average finish (8.0) on Las Vegas' new configuration; Will race the same car (chassis No. 565) that ran both Atlanta races, Chicago and Darlington last year; This car saw it's best finish (third) at Atlanta in the spring.

11. Kurt Busch: Has yet to post a top-15 finish in four starts with Penske Racing; Last of two top 10s came with Roush Racing in 2005; 5.5 average start and 30.5 average finish in two starts with the COT; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 702) that won at Texas last fall.

12. Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers with three wins; 17th-best finishing average (18.0) in the three races on Las Vegas' new configuration; Has respective finishes of 29th and 24th in last two starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 580) in the Shelby American.

13. Kyle Busch: Defending race winner; Credited with winning from the pole in 2009, but had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change; Combined to lead 77 laps in the last two events; His three other top 10s came with Hendrick Motorsports (2005-2007); Has the best average finish on the new Las Vegas configuration (7.0); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 268) in the Shelby American.

14. Brian Vickers: Scored first top-20 finish in five starts in 2009 in eighth; 32.0 average start and 16.0 average finish in two starts with the COT.

15. Scott Speed: Finished 21st in first start in 2009.

16. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Tied for the second-best average finish (7.7) in three starts on the new Las Vegas configuration; Finished second in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in 2008; Started 31st and finished 10th in 2009; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 556) that finished 25th at Texas last fall after a gamble on fuel.

17. Tony Stewart: Finished 26th in first track start with Stewart-Haas; Scored six top 10s in previous 10 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Posted a 25.3 average finish in the three races on the track's new configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 583) in the Shelby American.

18. Paul Menard: 29.7 average finish in three starts; Best finish came in 2008 in 22nd; Will pilot a car (chassis No. 653) that ran in one race last season.

19. David Ragan: Only top 10 came in 2008 in seventh; Has a 28.7 average finish on the new track configuration; Finished 42nd last year after an engine failure; Has yet to lead a lap in three starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 620) that finished 34th at Homestead in 2009.

20. Martin Truex Jr: Will make first track start in a Toyota; Has the 16th best average finish (19.7) on the track's new configuration; Did not finish in the top 10 in his previous four starts with Dale Earnhardt Inc./Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.

21. Denny Hamlin: Ended a streak of three consecutive top 10s with a 22nd-place finish in 2009; Last year's finish, which was caused by damage after a lap three incident raised his average finish to 11.0 in four starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 248) that won at Pocono and Martinsville last year.

22. Jeff Gordon: Winner of the 2001 event; Has finished sixth or better in four of his last five starts; Has combined to lead 147 laps in the last three races; Posted the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks in 2009.

23. Juan Pablo Montoya: Has yet to lead a lap or finish in the top 15 in three starts; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 910) that finished 38th at Homestead after a mid-race incident with Tony Stewart.

24. Elliott Sadler: Has one top 10 in 11 starts; Will make first track start in a Ford since 2006; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 282) in the Shelby American.

25. Bobby Labonte: Finished fifth with Hall of Fame racing in 2009; 11.7 in three starts on the track's new configuration; Scored four top 10s with Joe Gibbs Racing on old configuration; Will make first track start in a Chevrolet since 2005.

26. Sam Hornish Jr: 28.5 average finish in two starts; Finished 16th in 2009.

27. AJ Allmendinger: Finished 33rd in first start in 2009; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 289) that finished 10th last fall at Texas as the No. 44.

28. Brad Keselowski: Finished 38th in 2009 with Hendrick Motorsports in only start; Will make first track start with Penske Racing; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 708) in the Shelby American.

29. Travis Kvapil: Finished eighth with Yates Racing in 2008; Two other finishes of 26th and 39th came on the track's old configuration in 2005 and 2006.

30. Regan Smith: Finished 19th in first track start with Furniture Row Racing in 2009; Only other start was in 2008 with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. where he finished 34th; Has yet to lead a lap.

33. Kasey Kahne: Two-time pole winner; Best finish came on the old Las Vegas configuration in second; Has led 14 laps and posted an average finish of 17.3 on new configuration; Will make track debut in a Ford.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

LVRJ: Vegas Stop Helped Bolster NASCAR Betting in Sports Books

by Micah Roberts
Las Vegas Review-Journal

When Las Vegas sports books starting popping up in casinos in the late 1980s, the wagering menu offered to the public was already set thanks to a heavy dose of generational conditioning.


Many people had grown up knowing the nuances of baseball, football and basketball, so it was easy for folks to understand how to bet on them, either in sports books or with the corner bookie in their old hometowns.

Sports books just can't create their own events; they have to be live, credible events with a following to justify offering the odds, not to mention the time it takes to study the tendencies of the participants involved. Before the 1990s, booking sports was a meat-and-potatoes game with just the core team sports.

Then something strange happened. In 1994, people coming into Las Vegas books began asking for the weekly NASCAR races. Most of the books offered only the Daytona 500 and the open-wheel Indianapolis 500 as auto racing options.

Some books laughed at the notion of offering weekly odds on the races, usually with a punch line involving a fan stereotype -- something comedian Jeff Foxworthy might deliver. Other books embraced the idea and tried to get as much information as possible on the weekly NASCAR races to offer a fair line.

And why not?

Read More Here......

Las Vegas Preview: Childress and Hendrick Should Be Good Again

by Micah Roberts

Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul of fire

Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn
So get those stakes up higher.

Ya'll know the rest......Viva Las Vegas!

NASCAR is back in Vegas and everyone in their world couldn’t be happier. It’s like a mini-vacation after a long speed weeks at Daytona and then having to sit through a dreadfully boring weekend at Fontana. Vegas couldn’t have come at a better time.

The upper brass at NASCAR are probably happy to see Vegas too. Last week’s awful showing at the California Speedway, a track that barely holds 80,000, made the top series of the sport look like a can’t miss sporting event like a WNBA matinee.

All Las Vegas does is add the glitter and lights to already fantastic event. It dresses up the event like the perfect present wrapped by a department store. Mix in the Neon Garage of Las Vegas Motor Speedway which has become like a Disneyworld of the Auto Racing world and there aren’t many better places for the fans to watch a race, all 150,000.

It’s a mystery how Vegas still only has one race a season while Fontana has two, not just from the capacity aspect, but obviously by what the fans have shown. Aren’t we in the new age of NASCAR where they are listening to what the fans say and react accordingly? Not sure there is a better example of fans saying what’s on their mind than 55,000 showing up for a race that seats 80,000 outisde of the biggest Metropolis' in America.

Beyond all the fans words, they should take note of what the drivers, crews, and most of all, their wives say about Vegas. Bristol is a great race event, but it sure is tough to do anything else while the race is in town. It’s the big fish in a little pond there, where as Vegas is the perfect mix for the race to take center stage, but still big enough to get a little lost in the city if you want to.

"I love this city. It's probably my favorite place we go, says Mark Martin who won the inaugural event in 1998, “I don't know what it is, because I'm not a real 'go-out' kind of guy. But the atmosphere is so great here. You can do anything at any time of day. It's open 24 hours. There are shows and great food. It's just an exciting place to be."

For Kevin and DeLana Harvick, they will be celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary on Sunday. The couple got married in Las Vegas in 2001, two days prior to Harvick scoring his first career NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish, an 8th-place finish in Vegas. The couple will celebrate by having dinner at the same local restaurant they visit each year, a tradition that began on their first anniversary.

Had they been married at the storied racing grounds of Daytona, that annual dining experience may have been at the Bob Evans across the street.

Beyond all the spas, nightlife, and great dining, the racing has also been pretty good, especially since the track reconfigured the banking to make the track run more like the SMI sister-tracks of Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas giving it a faster edge compared to the relatively flat banking it used to have that had no real drama at the end of races, just lots of long green flag runs.

“Vegas is a fast track, much more like Charlotte since they made the changes to the track a few years ago. It’s unique in that the transitions are different than other intermediates but you get really close racing,” Denny Hamlin said.

“The track changes over the course of the race so the driver can usually find a place where the car works. It’s a fun track and I think the fans get a good show.”

Last weeks race at California was good from the stand point that it showed us all who was going to be real good at the horsepower required down force tracks. We knew Martin and Jimmie Johnson would be good coming in to that race, but the real surprise was the trio of Richard Childress cars who flexed their muscles under the hood all day.

It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see any one of the Childress cars win last week after seeing them in practice consistently putting up good times in both average speeds and single lap times.

All of that power from last week should carry over into Las Vegas this week. Harvick and Jeff Burton will be bringing in brand chassis’ this week while Clint Bowyer will be using his car that raced at Indianapolis and Kansas.

Even though many of the Vegas races were under the old format of the track, Burton is still the top dog when it comes to Vegas on the basis of his two wins and a career average finish of 9.8. In his last two seasons under the new format, Burton finished fifth and third.

It’s a little bit of a gamble to make a wager on a driver using a first time car without seeing it practice, but hey, this is Vegas! Burton is listed at 15 to 1 at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book. Based on the complete change his entire team has made along with his past success, nearly tasting victory last week, Burton looks pretty live this week.

Harvick has two top-5 finishes on the track over his career along with four other top-13 finishes. His new chassis shouldn’t be too much of a concern either because everything Childress has put into the No. 29 car since the Chase started last season has been pretty good.

Harvick is a free-agent next year and despite rumors of the Childress-Harvick relationship being strained, winning cures a lot of that. By giving Harvick the goods as Childress has done, and not letting him languish in a jalopy like some owners do with lame-duck drivers, it shows that Childress wants him to do well and keep him.

Look for Harvick and Burton to both have great runs Sunday with Bowyer a little behind but still in the top-10.

The favorite of the race is Jimmie Johnson at 9 to 2, as he should be. This guy is just flat out awesome in Vegas, winning on both configurations while winning three straight Vegas races from 2005-07. The last two seasons Johnson has struggled out of the gate as the team tinkered with his cars to finally get them in Jimmie-shape during his Championship runs.

This season they came out swinging early with the win last week. Whether it was luck or not, the reality is that Johnson had one of the best cars in practice that was well deserving of the win. He also had used a proven winning car from the 2009 season. This week Johnson will be using a brand new chassis which could give reason to pick against him, at least until we some practice times.

Denny Hamlin has quietly put together a pretty good Vegas resume in his four races that has him averaging an 11th-place finish with a best run of third in 2007. Hamlin, looking to build on some kind of success early on after having two poor runs to start the year, has brought in his best handling chassis from his garage.

The choice is a little curious because they don’t seem to correlate, but the bottom line is wins. He’ll be using his winning rides from Pocono and Martinsville this week. The wins alone are something to take serious notice of and make him a solid candidate to win.

Mark Martin has nine top-10 finishes in Las Vegas. His 40th-place finish last season was more a matter of him getting familiar with his new team and we see how that eventually turned out. Martin will contend for the win again this week. He’ll be using his chassis that finished fourth at Texas last season.

Other notes:

Joey Logano may have officially turned the corner as a top flight Cup series driver. He’s got a year under his belt, a nice feud going with Greg Biffle, and a great support system that will give him good rides on a weekly basis. It looks like he’s going to be in contention for wins and we’ll talking much more about him weekly. This week he’s bringing his car that finished 14th at Richmond and 12th at Martinsville.

The Ganassi-Earnhardt crew came into California with all kinds of great expectations and then sat on the front row making everyone take notice that they had something special going on for 2010. But then the race didn’t turn out well and no one is talking now. It’s possible they could rebound nice this week in Vegas.

Montoya has brought his car from Miami last season that ran well but was involved in a mid-race incident. McMurray will be using his chassis from last years runs at Atlanta, Texas, and Miami where he had a best finish of 9th-place at Miami among the three.

The power Montoya showed last year throughout the season is still fresh on my mind and until I see otherwise for a duration of time, I will continue to believe that he is a contender on these type of tracks. For McMurray, his only non-restrictor plate win of his career came on a track like this in Charlotte while subbing as a driver for Chip Ganassi.

Dale Earnhardt Jr had a tough week in California. We found out that his stuff wasn’t as a good as Martin’s, who they share a garage with at Hendrick Motorsports. He looked almost exactly like the Junior we saw being led by Tony Eury Jr before eventually making the change to Lance McGrew.

This week he’ll be bringing in the first chassis McGrew completely built himself, with no Eury Jr fingerprints on it, and it‘s a pretty good one. He ran this car last year at Texas and was running sixth but a late race desperation fuel gamble didn’t payoff making the finish look worse than it should be with a 25th-place finish. He needs a good race here!

We don’t have any mentions of Fenway-Roush Racing’s drivers yet despite having six of the 12 wins on the track. We indirectly talked about older Roush drivers like Martin and Burton who combined to win three of those, but no Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth who are all within the top-8 of all-time performers in Vegas.

Both Biffle and Kenseth looked good in Califronia, but not good enough to win at any juncture unless getting lucky with rain. Vegas could be a different story, but they looked at lot like last years version more than hoped for new and improved version of 2010.

Kyle Busch will be looking for his third straight Vegas pole and second straight Vegas win. The folks at the Hard Rock Hotel are still talking about the party he threw his teams last season after winning. Last week he got better as the race went on and showed a lot of patience by taking what the car would give, a sign that he may be ready to unseat Johnson this year as the champ. It’s a long season, and he loves to win as many as he can, but I think he learned a valuable lesson of how to miss the chase last season.

TOP 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #31 Jeff Burton (15/1)
2) #5 Mark Martin (7/1)
3) #18 Kyle Busch (8/1)
4) #29 Kevin Harvick (15/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (9/2)



Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book

SHELBY AMERICAN
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON 9-2
MARK MARTIN 7
JEFF GORDON 10
KYLE BUSCH 8
DENNY HAMLIN 12
JUAN MONTOYA 15
TONY STEWART 12
CARL EDWARDS 18
GREG BIFFLE 15
KURT BUSCH 18
KASEY KAHNE 25
CLINT BOWYER 15
KEVIN HARVICK 15
JEFF BURTON 15
BRIAN VICKERS 25
MATT KENSETH 20
DALE EARNHARDT JR 30
JOEY LOGANO 40
RYAN NEWMAN 30
MARTIN TRUEX JR 60
DAVID REUTIMANN 60
JAMIE McMURRAY 60
DAVID RAGAN 75
BRAD KESELOWSKI 100
MARCOS AMBROSE 100
SAM HORNISH JR 100
AJ ALLMENDINGER 200
ELLIOTT SADLER 300
PAUL MENARD 500
BOBBY LABONTE 500
REGAN SMITH 500
SCOTT SPEED 300
TRAVIS KVAPIL 500
FIELD 100

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Viva Las Vegas Facts; shelby 427

compiled by Mike Forde
 
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
History
·         The first NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race won by Ken Schrader on Nov. 2, 1996.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held on March 1, 1998, won by Mark Martin.
·         In 2006, the track was reconfigured to include progressive banking.
Notebook
·         There have been 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
·         Five drivers have participated in all 12 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
·         Dale Jarrett won the inaugural pole.
·         Eight drivers have poles, led by Dale Jarrett, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Bobby Labonte (two each).
·         Eight different drivers have won, led by Jimmie Johnson (three).
·         Only five of the 12 races have been won from a top-10 starting position.
·         Las Vegas-native Kyle Busch became the first driver to win from the pole, last season.
·         Four of the 12 races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
·         The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 25th, by Matt Kenseth in 2004.
·         There has been one green-white-checkered finish at Las Vegas: 2006 (270/267).
·         Only one driver averages a top-10 finish: Jeff Burton (9.8). Burton won consecutive races in 1999 and 2000, and has finished in the top five in the last two races (fifth in 2008, third in 2009). Burton has been running at the finish in all 12 of his events.
·         In three of the last four races, the margin of victory was under one second.
·         Kyle Busch made his first start and Kasey Kahne won his first pole at Las Vegas, in the same event (2004).
 
 NASCAR in Nevada
·         There have been 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in Nevada, one at Las Vegas Park Speedway in 1955 and the rest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1996-Present).
·         19 drivers all-time in NASCAR’s three national series have their home state as Nevada.
·         There have been three race winners from Nevada in NASCAR’s three national series:
Driver
NSCS
NNS
NCWTS
Kurt Busch
20
2
4
Kyle Busch
16
31
16
Brendan Gaughan
0
0
8
 
Las Vegas Motor Speedway Data
Race # 3 of 36 (2-28-10)
Track Size: 1.5 miles
·     Race Length: 285 laps/427.5 miles
·     Banking/Corners: 20 degrees
·     Banking/Frontstretch: 9 degrees
·     Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees

Driver Rating at Las Vegas
Jimmie Johnson            113.6 
Jeff Gordon                   111.5
Kyle Busch                    109.4
Greg Biffle                    103.9
Jeff Burton                    98.5
Mark Martin                   94.9
Tony Stewart                 93.5
Carl Edwards                 92.3
Kevin Harvick                92.2
Matt Kenseth                 91.6
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2008 races (5 total) at Las Vegas.
 
Qualifying/Race Data
2009 pole winner: Kyle Busch (185.995 mph, 29.033 seconds)
2009 race winner: Kyle Busch (119.515 mph, 3-1-09)
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch (185.995 mph, 29.033 seconds, 2-27-09)
Track race record: Mark Martin (146.554 mph, 3-1-98)
 
Estimated Pit Window: Every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Johnson wins at Fontanta, Harvick close with 2nd but Leads in Points


by Terry Blount
espn.com

FONTANA, Calif. -- Kevin Harvick wasn't mad at Jimmie Johnson, who did his job and blocked Harvick from passing him in the final laps.


Harvick also wasn't mad that Johnson won again at Auto Club Speedway, claiming his 48th career victory in the No. 48 Chevy and his first of 2010.

But Harvick did want to make one thing perfectly clear.

"They're really good, but they're really, really lucky, too," Harvick said. "Jimmie is a good friend mine, but there's no denying how lucky they are. They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their a--."

Alrighty then. Point taken.

Whether you agree or not is debatable considering Johnson has the Sprint Cup field covered, winning the past four championships. However, Harvick was dead-on about this race.

read more here...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Roberts Final Driver Ratings For California - Bow-ties Looking Good!

Micah Roberts Top 10 Final Driver Ratings

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Auto Club 500
California Auto Club speedway
February 21, 2010 - !2:01 pm (PT)

Rating/Driver/odds/Practice 1/Qualified/Practice 2/Practice 3

1. Mark Martin 8/1 1st 10th 2nd 1st
Using same car that won at sister track of Michigan in June

2. Jimmie Johnson 9/2 8th 7th 1st 3rd
4 wins at Cal, using same car that won at Indy and Cal last year

3. Clint Bowyer 25/1 5th 3rd 9th 2nd
Great avg speeds in practice, 12.5 avg finish at Cal

4. Kevin Harvick 25/1 7th 6th 11th 17th
Good Happy Hour run with long runs, using car that finished 3rd at Miami

5. Juan Pablo Montoya 15/1 3rd 2nd 6th 8th
New chassis, one best in practice all weekend

Read more on-line about the full listing of rankings.
For more insights on the Auto Club 500, log onto http://www.lvrj.com/hottopics/nascar_weekend/Hendrick-in-top-form-for-Fontana-84874137.html

California Auto Club 500 Driver Chassis Choice

by Jeff Wackerlin
MotorRacingNetwork.com

1. Jamie McMurray: 24.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; 22.1 average finish in last eight starts with Roush Fenway; Will make first track start with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing since 2005; Posted an average finish of 7.2 in his five starts with Ganassi (2003-2005); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 31) in the Auto Club 500.


2. Dale Earnhardt Jr: 22.1 average finish is worst among all ovals on the schedule in which he's made more than 10 starts; 28.8 average finish (all with COT) in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Last of four top 10s came in the 2007 Labor Day race with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.; Does have one win at Michigan, the other 2-mile track on the circuit; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 578) in the Auto Club 500; Off to best points start since joining Hendrick Motorsports.

3. Greg Biffle: Winner of the 2005 spring race; Finished fourth in this event last year for fourth top 10 in 14 starts; 10.2 average finish in the four races with the COT; Has led 80 laps on 2-mile speedways with the COT; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 673) in the Auto Club 500.

4. Clint Bowyer: 14.2 average finish in four starts with the COT; Coming off fourth top 10 with a ninth-place finish last October; Has yet to finish outside the top 20 in eight starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 257) that finished sixth at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and seventh at Texas Motor Speedway in November.

5. Kevin Harvick: A crash in 2009 hindered his 15.0 average finish in four starts with the COT; Has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts; Will race the same car (chassis No. 288) that last finished third at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2009.

6. David Reutimann: 16.0 average finish in four starts with the COT; Only top 10 in six starts came in the 2008 Labor Day weekend race; Off to best points start with Michael Waltrip racing; Will become the first Toyota driver to make 100 starts.

7. Martin Truex Jr.: Will make track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing; Only top 10s (2) in eight starts came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.; 18.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Led four laps last fall in last track start in a Chevrolet.

8. Matt Kenseth: Best track on the circuit based on wins (3); Defending race winner; 6.0 average finish in four starts with the COT; Has the best average finish (9.2) among drivers with 15 or more starts; Third in laps led with 468.

9. Juan Pablo Montoya: 13.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Coming off first top 10 in six starts with a third-place run; Led 78 laps last fall; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 906) in the Auto Club 500.

10. Carl Edwards: 5.0 average finish in four starts with the COT; Has finished seventh or better in 10 of his 11 starts; Won this event in 2008 after leading 64 laps; Will be driving the same car that posted finishes of sixth and seventh, respectively at Auto Club and Homestead in 2009.

11. Mark Martin: 1998 win was one of five top fives in 17 starts; Finished 40th in his track debut with Hendrick Motorsports after engine failure; Finished fourth last October to give him an average finish of 20.0 in three starts with the COT; Won with the COT at Michigan, the other 2-mile track on the circuit; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 523) that won at Michigan last June.

12. Jeff Burton: 22.8 average finish in four starts with the COT; Last top 10s with Richard Childress Racing came in 2007 when he finished fourth in both races; Has only four career laps led on 2-mile speedways with the COT; Hopes to turn around recent luck at ACS with a new chassis (No. 291).

13. Kyle Busch: 9.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Those four starts are his only with Joe Gibbs Racing; Won the Labor Day weekend race with Hendrick Motorsports; Win was the start of eight consecutive top 10s; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 265) that has been tested in the wind tunnel.

14. Paul Menard: 28.7 average finish in six starts; Has yet to finish inside the top 20; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 683) in the Auto Club 500.

15. David Ragan: Best track on the schedule based on 13.2 average finish; 12.8 average finish in four starts with the COT; Coming off first top 10 with a seventh-place finish last fall; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 617) that finished 33rd at Charlotte as the No. 26.

16. Brian Vickers: 15.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Won the pole and finished 10th in this event last year; Has yet to lead a lap with the COT; Best finish (third) came with Hendrick Motorsports in 2005.

17. Denny Hamlin: 21.8 average finish in four starts with the COT; Won the pole last fall, but finished 37th after a crash; Only top five (third) came in the 2008 Labor Day weekend race; Finished sixth in this event last year to help his average finish of 16.9 in eight starts; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 256) that last raced in Charlotte during the 2009 Chase when engine troubles relegated him to a 42nd-place finish.

18. Scott Speed: 31.0 average finish in two starts; Finished 21st last fall; Off to best points start in his young Sprint Cup career.

19. Michael Waltrip: Will not compete in this weekend's race.

20. Joey Logano: 20.0 average finish in two starts; Will debut a new car that served as a back-up last year (chassis No. 262) in the Auto Club 500.

21. Bobby Labonte: 23.0 average finish in four starts with COT (two different teams); Will make track debut in the No. 71 Chevrolet; All of his top 10s (5) came with Joe Gibbs racing (1997-2004).

22. Kurt Busch: 16.2 average finish in four starts with the COT; Has finished ninth or better in four of his eight starts with Penske Racing; Finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in 2009; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 704) that was used in a Goodyear Tire Test at Texas.

23. Tony Stewart: 10.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Posted an average finish of 6.5 in the two races with Stewart-Haas; Best finish is a pair of fourth-place runs with Joe Gibbs Racing back in 1999 and 2001; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 564) that finished sixth at Texas last fall.

24. Elliott Sadler: Won the 2004 Labor Day weekend race after leading 59 laps in a Yates Racing Ford; Will make first track start in a Ford since 2006; Last top 10 came in 2005; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 283) in the Auto Club 500.

25. Boris Said: Makes first track start since 2005; Has a 30.0 average finish in two starts.

26. Jeff Gordon: Three-time Auto Club winner; Last win came in 2004; Second in laps led with 597; Finished second in both races in 2009; Fifth-best driver rating at 100.3.

27. Robby Gordon: Has yet to finish inside the top 15 in 10 starts in the No. 7 car; Only top 10 (ninth) came with Richard Childress Racing in 2004; Has a 31.5 average finish in the four races with the COT.

28. Bill Elliott: Will not compete in this weekend's race.

29. Travis Kvapil: Makes track debut in the No. 34 Ford; Posted an average finish of 27.3 in previous three starts with Yates Racing; 18th-place finish in this event last year is best in six starts.

30. Kasey Kahne: Second-best track on the schedule based on 14.8 average finish; Will make track debut in a Ford; Won the 2006 Labor Day weekend race driving a Dodge; Participated in a Goodyear Tire Test in December.

35.Jimmie Johnson: Winner of the last three fall races; Ninth-place finish in this event last year was one of six consecutive top 10s; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 553) that won at Indianapolis and Auto Club last year.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jamie McMurray Fresh off Daytona win, takes Pole at California

McMurray wins pole at Auto Club: #1-Jamie McMurray won the Coors Pole for the Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway with a speed of 183.744 mph for his 1st pole of 2010 and 4th of his career. His Earnhardt-Ganassi teammate, #42-Montoya will start 2nd followed by #33-Bowyer, #9-Kahne, #66-Blaney, #29-Harvick, #48-Johnson, #77-Hornish, #18-Busch, and #5-Martin The go-or-go homers who made the race (8): #66-Blaney, #82-Speed, #36-Bliss, #09-Almirola, #55-McDowell, #87-Nemechek, #71-Labonte, and #13-Papis


The go-or-go homers who failed to qualify for the race (3): #90-Mears, #35-Sauter, and #46-Cook

Read Jayski.com Qualifying Page for Full Lineup

Monday, February 15, 2010

California Auto Club 500 Preview: Hendrick vs Roush

by Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

What a thrilling Daytona 500 we witnessed last week with Jamie McMurray capturing the win as a 30 to 1 underdog. Despite over two hours of delays due to a hole in the track’s asphalt, the race featured all kinds of passing, multiple leaders, and lots of drama throughout. The change to widen the hole in the restrictor plates giving more throttle response made this one of the more exciting races in Daytona 500 history.


Hopefully for McMurray’s sake, he can build off this win like Jimmie Johnson did in 2006 rather than what the last three winners did. Johnson won the first of his four straight Championships the season he won at Daytona to kick off the year, while the last three have been curses.

In 2007, Kevin Harvick won in dramatic fashion denying Mark Martin his first ever Daytona win of any kind in a points race. Harvick made the Chase that season, but hasn’t won a race since.

In 2008 Ryan Newman won in dramatic fashion with his teammate Kurt Busch pushing Newman past the days best two cars in Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. Newman failed to make the Chase that season and hasn’t won a race since.

Last season Matt Kenseth not only won at Daytona, but he won the following week as well at California. It was too easy and it looked like the Roush program, who had never won a Daytona 500, was going to dominate the season considering that in the previous year drivers like Carl Edwards reeled off 9 wins and Greg Biffle chipped in with two.

The curse on Kenseth not only forced him to miss the Chase for the first time in his career, but it also cursed the entire Roush organization. Edwards, nor Biffle won a race for the entire season. After Kenseth’s win at California, he would go on to place in the top-5 only five more times in the remaining 34 races.

McMurray may have the means to be successful this season away from a restrictor-plate race this season. We saw what kind of equipment teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was getting last season where he had the best car on the track on a few occasions, and McMurray could be the beneficiary of landing into something that’s working well.

Montoya excelling never rubbed off on former teammate Martin Truex Jr, but it’s possible knowing he was a lame duck driver that the organization figured it would be a waste to give him the good stuff when he wouldn’t be around for 2010.

We’ll learn a lot more at California this week, not only from McMurray, but the entire series. When they jump in the car for Friday’s practice it will be the first time we get to see the cars run on this type of track which requires massive amounts of horsepower for the long straights and lots of down force.

This track features lots of green flag runs where usually the best car does win because they’re able to put such a big gap between them a second place. This is an elitist track where you won’t see anyone like a Jamie McMurray sneak up on the win. 15 of the 19 races run have been won by either a Roush or Hendrick driver who were listed as one of the favorites.

In the other instances, top drivers like Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield from a good Penske team won. Elliott Sadler won in a souped up Yates engine as Dale Jarrett’s teammate and Kasey Kahne won when he was dominating the down force tracks. It’s pretty much a “No Hobo’s allowed” to win track.

Needless to say, the top teams are always consistent at California. What we saw last week with just about every team run well with restrictor-plates on will not apply. The top teams in NASCAR always win at California. Fenway-Roush has won this race seven times and is on a current streak of winning five in a row in the spring race.

The main question all the bookmakers have to ask themselves is how good do they think the Roush cars will be this week. There is indication to believe things could be restored to past glory with the new Ford RF-9 engine. Last week Kenseth used it for the first time along with other Ford drivers from other teams.

As of now, it isn’t known what engine the Roush drivers will be using, but it’s a better bet to believe that the Roush organization will be closer to 2008 when they won all those races on these type of tracks than the 2009 version that couldn’t get over the hump.

The main candidate to do well is Carl Edwards who has a California career average finish of 6.6 since 2004. He won this race in 2008, and even without contending for the win last season, he still managed to get a seventh-place finish in this race and a sixth in the fall.

California native Jimmie Johnson is the track’s all time leader in average finish position at 5.8 per race. He has four wins on the track, including the fall race last year, but hasn’t won the spring race since his rookie season back in 2002. Johnson has been traditionally a slow starter and seems to take a few weeks to get him going. Last year he didn’t have a top-5 finish until week five at Bristol.

Mark Martin had a slow start to last season getting acclimated with his new team, but once they got it going, they were tough to beat on these type of tracks. He won on the sister track of Michigan and had a fourth place finish in the California fall race. He won the second race ever at California Speedway while driving for Roush and has five career top-5 finishes on the track.

The driver that could benefit from Martin’s success the most is Dale Earnhardt Jr who has been sharing a garage at the Hendrick Motorsports headquarters with Martin. The two teams collaborate on everything and have almost all their cars set-up identical for each race. It’s all new and good stuff for Junior this year and he should have a good run this week.

Jeff Gordon had two second place finishes at California last season giving him 10 top-5 finishes for his career in 19 starts. He’s a three-time winner on the track which has him tied with Kenseth for second most in tracks history. His career average finish is 10.5.

Drivers that stop the Roush and Hendrick winning party at California are Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, and quite possibly the new and improved Childress drivers. Busch brothers each claim a win and combined to average less than 13th place in all their races.

Kahne is a definite wild card because no ones quite knows how his new Ford will run at California. His past history has been great with one win and a couple other top 5’s.

Look for Roush to get back on track this week.

Top 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #17 Matt Kenseth (15/1)
2) #99 Carl Edwards (12/1)
3) #5 Mark Martin (8/1)
4) #24 Jeff Gordon (8/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)

Danica-Mania
NASCAR has never seen so much hoopla surrounding a driver debut than what was witnessed last week as Danica Patrick made her NASCAR Nationwide series debut at Daytona. Other than Jimmie Johnson, most of the NASCAR drivers that spoke about her used sarcasm with hints of animosity when asked anything about Patrick.

Hundreds of reporters followed her every move just wanting any story about Auto-Racing’s most beautiful driver. The crossover following for Patrick is amazing. Juan Pablo Montoya has a huge International following and lots journalists from everywhere covering NASCAR for his fans, but NASCAR has never had so many representatives for a race that crossover into pop culture.

Station Casinos sports books offered odds on the Nationwide race and listed Patrick at 50 to 1, the longest shot on the board. She has great JR Motorsports equipment to do well, but couldn’t get the hang of the draft and plummeted positions rapidly until finally getting involved a wreck and finishing the day in 35th place, a wreck not caused by her.

She’ll be racing this Saturday in California where she should do much better just because of no drafting. Because it’s close to Hollywood with so many media outlets, don’t look for any less of a media circus than witnessed at Daytona.

I may be in the minority of hard core race fans, but I hope she does really well and eventually makes the jump to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series next year. The combination her spunky attitude, no fear of going full throttle, and looking absolutely perfect in a bikini has my attention.

California Auto Club Speedway Facts: Auto Club 500

compiled by Mike Forde
NASCAR Media Services

History
· Groundbreaking for California Speedway, as Auto Club Speedway was originally known, took place in November 1995.
· The first race at Auto Club Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 22, 1997 and won by Jeff Gordon.
· September 2004 was the first night race at Auto Club Speedway and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series ran two races in a season there.
· The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway in February 2008.

Notebook
· There have been 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway since the track opened in 1997.
· Four drivers have competed in all 19 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek.
· Joe Nemechek won the pole for the inaugural race in 1997.
· There have been 13 different pole winners, led by Kurt Busch (three). Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon each have two poles.
· Twelve different drivers have posted victories. Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with four wins. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth each have won three races.
· Hendrick Motorsports has won eight races, more than any other team.
· Nine of the 19 races were won from starting positions outside the top 10; only one has been won from the pole (Jimmie Johnson in 2008). The most prolific starting position is third, with three victories.
· Matt Kenseth won the 2006 spring race from the 31st starting position, the deepest in the field that a race winner has started.
· Three active drivers have averaged a top-10 finish: Carl Edwards (6.6), Jimmie Johnson (5.8) and Matt Kenseth (9.3).
· Kyle Busch won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole (2/05) and first race (9/05) at Auto Club Speedway.
· Jimmie Johnson won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at ASC on April 28, 2002.

NASCAR in California
· There have been 126 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in California:
· 410 NASCAR drivers have their home state recorded as California.
· There have been 33 race winners from California in NASCAR’s three national series.

Auto Club Speedway Data
Race # 2 of 36 (2-21-10)
Track Size: 2 miles
· Race Length: 250 laps/500 miles
· Banking/Corners: 14 degrees
· Banking/Frontstretch: 11 degrees
· Banking/Backstretch: 3 degrees

Driver Rating at Auto Club Speedway
Jimmie Johnson 122.3
Matt Kenseth 109.7
Carl Edwards 104.3
Kyle Busch 102.9
Jeff Gordon 100.3
Greg Biffle 99.8
Tony Stewart 97.6
Mark Martin 97.4
Kasey Kahne 94.8
Kurt Busch 94.1
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2009 races (10 total) at Auto Club Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2009 pole winner: Brian Vickers (183.439 mph, 39.250 secs.)
2009 race winner: Matt Kenseth (135.839 mph, 2-22-09)
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch (188.425 mph, 38.248 seconds, 2-27-05)
Track race record: Jeff Gordon (155.012 mph, 6-22-97)

Estimated Pit Window: Every 40-44 laps, based on fuel mileage

Sunday, February 14, 2010

McMurray Holds Off Junior, Wins Thriller in Daytona 500


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jamie McMurray has won the Daytona 500, holding off a hard-charing Dale Earnhardt Jr. over a wild final two-lap sprint.

The race was stopped twice and delayed for more than two hours because of a pothole at Daytona International Speedway, a setback that marred the race but helped set up the thrilling finish.