Tag:Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:08 pm

Las Vegas truck race moves up two weeks

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

This year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29. The event was originally set for Oct. 13.

The date change was made due to the cancellation of the IndyCar event scheduled for Oct. 14.

“Running the race on Oct. 13 would have necessitated a daytime event in order not to go head-to-head with the Saturday-night Sprint Cup race in Charlotte on the same day,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “The date switch allows us to run the event under the lights, and that allows more people to attend the race. We appreciate NASCAR’s working with us to make this change.”

“Moving the date back will provide fans with a better opportunity to attend the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations. “It’s always exciting to attend a NASCAR event, especially a night race in Las Vegas.”

The start time for the Sept. 29 event is to be determined, but the event will run in the evening hours. The date change also returns the event to its more traditional late September slot on the series schedule.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:16 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 9:16 pm

Mark Martin to make Nationwide start for Gibbs

By Pete Pistone

Mark Martin's 2012 season won't be limited to his Sprint Cup Series program at Michael Waltrip Racing.

The veteran driver will pilot a Joe Gibbs Racing Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry in the Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.

“We’ve always hoped to have the opportunity for Mark to drive for us and to have him behind the wheel of our Interstate Batteries Toyota for the Nationwide race in Vegas is exciting,” said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. “He is a great example to all drivers of the dedication it takes to be successful and certainly we’re honored to have him part of our efforts in 2012.”

While Martin is only currently scheduled to race in Las Vegas for JGR, the team is still working on opportunities for the veteran driver to secure additional races.

Martin currently has 49 career victories in 235 Nationwide Series starts, Martin has amassed 111 top-five and 151 top-ten finishes, while leading 8,093 laps. His most recent victory came just last season when he piloted the No. 32 car to victory lane in Las Vegas. He had four total starts in 2011, with the one victory and three top-ten finishes.

“This is exciting,” said Martin. “No organization has been better in the Nationwide Series over the past three or four seasons and to have the chance to get behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide car will be a thrill. Maybe I can pick up a few more races and try to catch Kyle to get my record back again.”

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:44 pm

Fans invited to attend Vegas drivers' meeting

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Race fans who’ve wondered exactly what transpires in the drivers’ meeting prior to a NASCAR event will get their opportunity to learn for themselves during the 2012 NASCAR Weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For the first time ever at LVMS, race fans will be able to attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting for the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Weather permitting, the meeting will take place adjacent to the main stage in the center of the Neon Garage.

“The Neon Garage opened in 2007, and it’s provided unprecedented access to all of the behind-the-scenes action within the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “Thanks to NASCAR, we’re able to take that access up another notch. This will give race fans an even deeper look into what goes on for the drivers and crew chiefs prior to a race.”

“The entire NASCAR community has always worked closely to ensure that we are the most fan-friendly sport,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “This is another terrific example of a race track providing fans with access that is unprecedented in sports.”

NASCAR Weekend is composed of the Kobalt Tools 400 Sprint Cup event on March 11, preceded by the Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series event on March 10 and Stratosphere Pole Day on March 9. 

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:44 pm

Wheldon's death a tragic reminder

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail

Reporting on motorsports comes with a price in that there are times when a tragedy like the one that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday must be covered.

But it’s obviously not anywhere near what the men and women who defy the odds in this very dangerous sport must sometimes pay. 

Dan Wheldon paid the ultimate price on Sunday.

Only five months ago, Wheldon was the center of one of the sporting world’s most exciting and feel good stories when he miraculously won the Indianapolis 500 taking advantage of rookie J.R. Hildebrand’s last lap crash heading to the finish line. 

“That's why it's the greatest spectacle in racing,” the jubilant Brit said in victory lane. “You never know what's going to happen." 

More prophetic words were never spoken. 

Now on what was to have been one of Indy Car racing’s best moments of the year Wheldon is gone, the victim of perhaps the most frightening crash in series history. 

My primary beat is NASCAR but I’ve also frequently covered the open wheel world including the Indy 500 most years. My limited encounters with Wheldon always left me with the same feeling of goodwill in the wake of experiencing his enthusiasm, joy and quick wit. 

More on Dan Wheldon

He was a talented driver who worked his way up through the open wheel ranks of the Formula Atlantic Series and the Indy Lights before getting a chance to move to the big time and the Indy Car Series. 

Wheldon made the most of his opportunity. He took 16 checkered flags in 134 series starts including two victories in the world’s biggest race the Indianapolis 500. Whether it was for a power house team owner like Michael Andretti or Chip Ganassi or a smaller operation like Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Wheldon’s talent behind the wheel and likeable personality made lasting impressions. 

“Dan Wheldon was a tremendous competitor, a great racer and an even better person,” said Schmidt, who gave Wheldon a chance to drive for his team in the Las Vegas season finale for a shot at a $5 million prize. “It was an honor to have him be a part of our team. All of us at Sam Schmidt Motorsports are deeply saddened by his passing. On behalf of everyone at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, our prayers go out to all of his family, especially his wife, Susie, and their two children.” 

Ganassi went from viewing Wheldon as a fierce competitor to embracing him as a beloved teammate. 

“When I first met Dan, he was a young guy and he went to Michael’s (Andretti) team, and his teammates there— (Dario) Franchitti, (Tony) Kanaan and (Bryan) Herta—and seeing Franchitti afterward and saying, ‘I don’t know how that Dan does it.’ He was winning races and having all the fun,” Ganassi remembered. “And then I got to know him a little bit, and when we signed him to come over to our team I figured out why he won all those races. He just had an infectious way about him. 

“And what can you say, we’re all going to miss him, and little bit of everybody in Indy Car racing died today.”

Those of us who follow and love the sport of auto racing sometimes get lulled into a false sense of security. All the talk of SAFER Barriers, soft walls and HANS devices can lead us to believe the sport has been wiped of danger and most certainly death.

Until a tragic and painful reminder like Sunday’s horrific Las Vegas crash slaps us across the face.

Auto racing is infinitely safer than it was even a decade ago. But it will never be completely safe from injuries or death. 

We try to find comfort in times like these to hear friends and colleagues say that the departed did so “on his terms” or “doing what he loved.” 

That may be true for Wheldon was a racer and someone who worked very hard to get to the pinnacle of the sport.

But it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

Posted on: September 9, 2011 12:19 pm

2012 Las Vegas Cup date moves back a week

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Nevada’s largest annual sports weekend has a new date for 2012.  Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Weekend is scheduled for March 9-11, 2012, a week later than in recent years.

Again in 2012, the Kobalt Tools 400 is scheduled to be the third stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour.  The 2012 event will mark the 15th visit of NASCAR’s most elite series to Las Vegas’s 1.5-mile superspeedway. 

The Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event will precede the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on Saturday, March 10. Stratosphere Pole Day for the Kobalt Tools 400 will be held Friday, March 9.

“We’re very excited about this new date,” said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. “Even though we’re just a few months removed from this past year’s event, we already are in the process of renewing tickets for the 2012 event, and the renewals are coming in at a strong pace.  NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas has become one of the most significant events on the motorsports calendar, as evidenced by the tremendous crowds that turn out all three days.  The new date should further increase the anticipation that race fans have for this event.”

The 2011 event drew more than 300,000 people to LVMS and generated more than $198 million for the local economy.

History was made in this year’s Sam’s Town 300 as Danica Patrick recorded the highest finish ever (fourth) for a woman in a NASCAR national series event. Patrick will return in 2012 for the Sam’s Town 300 as a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Times for all events will be announced at a later date.  FOX Sports will televise the Kobalt Tools 400 for the 12th consecutive year. Television information for the Sam’s Town 300 will be announced later.

Carl Edwards is the defending champion of the Kobalt Tools 400, while Mark Martin captured this year’s Sam’s Town 300.


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Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:58 pm

Behind the Hauler: Trevor Bayne

By Pete Pistone

He’s been on a whirlwind tour since becoming the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 but Trevor Bayne has even found time to get back behind the wheel of a racecar since taking the checkered flag in “The Great American race” a month ago.

Bayne has been on a constant travel schedule completing every imaginable media interview possible from coast-to-coast with appearances on everything from “Ellen” to “Good Morning America” to “The George Lopez Show.”

The young driver has also had to navigate a busy racing schedule doing double duty on the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series in between the publicity madness.

He finally slowed down for a few days during the NASCAR off-weekend and spent some time with family in his native Knoxville, Tennessee and was able to stop by Sirius NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” for a few minutes to share thoughts about his roller coaster ride and upcoming trip to his home state track in Bristol.

What have you been up to the last few days at home base in Knoxville?

I got to spend some time with my family and got to go up to the capitol building in Nashville the other day…I’ve done all kinds of cool stuff man. My little brother learned to ride his bike without training wheels, went to the go-kart track for a second time to practice – we had a really cool weekend.

You always seem like a guy who’s full of energy but today you seem a little re-energized. Did the off weekend come at a really good time for you?

It couldn’t come at a better time really, I really needed it.  Trying to get back on track a little I mean we’ve been so busy. After the 500 we were always on a schedule – you guys know me I like to have my time to do like whatever and I wasn’t getting that at all. 7 O’clock, 8 O’clock, 9 O’clock – you’re always on a schedule and you leave one thing you’ve got five minutes to get to the next. For me to settle down for a few days that was really cool, I turned my phone off and just hung out.

Did you talk to President Obama?

No I didn’t talk to the President, I did talk to vice president Joe Biden. We were kidding around and he said the worst part about being vice president is you can’t drive cars anymore you have to be driven around so we’re going to take him out to s kid pad and let him fool around one day. (Laughs) But I don’t think the country trusts me enough for that one yet. But I mean it’s been so cool everything that’s happened. I was at the go-kart track yesterday and I have little five-year kids coming up to me and saying “I want to be just like you.” I’m like man this is crazy. It’s insane. I dreamed about this one day but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.

Now once you’ve got the first three races under your belt and you go back to work this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, did you go to Bristol a lot when you were growing up there in Knoxville?

I did. I’ve gone almost every year since I was five years old, I’d get out of Kindergarten early and rub it in all my friends face. I’d get to go out there and go down into the pits…..I’ve actually raced there more than nay other track in NASCAR. I’ve raced there six times, three in Nationwide and three in Hooters Cup so we’ve got a lot of track time there which is good for us.

We were talking about after the off weekend how it’s good for the sport to pick things up at a place like Bristol, I’d have to say in your case it’s really good to pick things back up at Bristol.

Yeh we’ve got a ton of people coming so I’m excited about that. I mean you need a ton of rest before you go there if you’re going to do both races so I’m glad I’ve had a little time to rest up here and get ready for a guess about 800 laps of racing this weekend. I think on Friday I get in the car like at 8 in the morning and don’t get out until like six with both series.

What is your expectation for the weekend? You have the new Nationwide Series car on Saturday and the first time in a Sprint Cup Series there on Sunday. You’re going to have a pretty big learning curve ahead of you.

Yeh for the teams too. I think this is going to be one of the toughest tracks we’ve gone to for the new cars trying to the set-up right, trying to get the attitude right when it loads up there as you’re coming through the center of the corner.  The Cup car I don’t really know what to expect. I think it’s going to be a good track for us, I know we have strong cars. You look at what Ford has done in these last five race, they’ve won four of them and probably should have won all of the Cup races so I’m pumped about going there in the Cup car. We’ve got really good power, we’ve got good stuff and (crew chief) Donnie Wingo and I are learning a lot about each other. Last week in Vegas we were running eleventh and I kind of got messed up coming to pit road…..I think we’re good there. I think we’re going to be contenders for the top ten pretty soon and on the Nationwide side we’re still looking for that first win. We’re working on it every week, getting a little better and a little better but hopefully at Bristol that would be a perfect place to get that first win in front of a hometown crowd and I’d love to be able to do that there.

What are one or two things that you have to do well at Bristol in order to win?

Well first of all you’ve got to make it to the end that’s the big thing. It’s kind of like racing at Daytona or restrictor plate racing in a sense or short track racing in America, I mean you have to survive the race and be there at the end and I think if you do that you’re a top ten finisher. That’s kind of our goal there and to be able to strike at the end if we can keep our car in one piece. So stay out of trouble and the second thing make sure you can get your car to turn off the bottom and make passes. It’s so tough to pass there. A lot of times when you get inside of somebody you get really loose as you come up and off the corner where either you’re gonna slide the nose or you’re gonna snap around. I always practice on the bottom because I figure it’s easier to move up so we’ll see what we can learn there when we first get on the racetrack to use for Saturday and Sunday.


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Posted on: March 6, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 6:39 am

Kobalt Tools 400 speed read

By Pete Pistone


After two stellar weeks to open up the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season NASCAR rolled the dice on No. 3 Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

While Carl Edwards came up big with his win, overall, the Kobalt Tools 400 was a letdown from the first two events of the season.

The 1.5-mile LVMS didn’t provide the tight racing and side-by-side action that had dominated in Daytona and Phoenix. What was on display was the more typical strung out competition associated with intermediate tracks like Vegas.

The day was ultimately decided on pit road with decisions on tires and fueling dictating the outcome of the race. Tony Stewart was the big loser in that department, going from hero to zero in two separate trips to pit road.

Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb looked like geniuses when they took two tires on the second-to-last trip to pit road and gained 14 spots – and the lead – in the process.

However, when the final money stop of the race rolled around the call for four tires ate up too much time for Stewart to maintain the top spot and Edwards was able to take advantage and go on to victory lane.

Stewart wasn’t alone in his pit road frustration. Several others were clipped for speeding including Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Joey Logano. Others like Greg Biffle were simply taken out of contention by their pit crews, with the No. 16 team stumbling through several fuel stops seemingly flummoxed by NASCAR’s new self-ventilating fueling system.

But the day belonged to Edwards, who has started the year as well as anyone in the series with a runner-up finish at Daytona and now a win in Week 3 to his credit. Only an early race crash with Kyle Busch last week at Phoenix has realistically kept Edwards out of being an impact player all three weeks of the season.

The early-season momentum was dialed down some in Vegas and it will be interesting to see if NASCAR can regain it in Bristol after taking next weekend off.



Juan Pablo Montoya

Made amends for last year’s disastrous Las Vegas performance when he and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray crashed with a third place finish on Sunday. Montoya and crew chief Brian patties seemed to have recaptured the magic that carried them into the Chase back in 2009.

Marcos Ambrose

His fourth career top five finish was his first as a member of Richard Petty Motorsports. Ambrose was quietly in the front pack most of the day and turned in what will certainly be a confidence builder for the No. 9 team.

Denny Hamlin

Was forced to start at the rear of the field when the FedEx team changed engines after Saturday’s practice and methodically worked his way to the front half of the field by mid-race and into the top 10 at the finish. Hamlin has been awfully quiet in the first three races of the season and perhaps is ready to make some noise.



Kyle Busch

Rough homecoming for Busch who spun in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race to lose a chance to win and made an early exit in Sunday’s Sprint Cup main event when an engine exploded. To his credit Busch kept his composure after the fiery end to his day but the sense of frustration is no doubt building.

Jeff Gordon

His win in Phoenix last week was followed by a hard trip into the outside wall in Las Vegas when he cut a right front tire. Gordon was on track to perhaps score at least a top 10 finish but left the track with a badly battered racecar.

Robby Gordon

On Friday Gordon was involved in a garage scuffle with Kevin Conway that resulted in a police report being filed and probation through the end of the year. His Sunday started with an early spin and ended in a 31st place finish.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs) 

"We just gave one away today ... Second sucks.” – Tony Stewart

"It feels good to run good like this. I know we're better than this. It feels good.'' – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I thought it was going to be harder than that.'' – Jeff Gordon on his trip into the wall.

"I know that's not right. I'll give them the exit, but not the entering. You can't be too fast entering when you are following cars." – Kevin Harvick on pit road speeding penalty

"I’ve got flames in my face.” – Kyle Busch after engine blew.



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 a three. Not anywhere close to the drama and stories of the first two races of the year but more along the lines of what we usually see on an intermediate track. There were some pit road miscues and action that made things interesting but in the end not a real compelling race outside of the fact that Edwards became the third different winner to start the season.



The three weeks of season-opening momentum ends with an off weekend, which will be rectified in 2012 when the Daytona 500 starts a week later and the early stoppage in action disappears. So cool the engines next Sunday before we crank them back up on March 20 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 3:49 pm

Kenseth stays fast in Las Vegas

Posted By Pete Pistone

Matt Kenseth remained perfect Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway leading the weekend's final practice session ahead of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400. Kenseth will start Sunday's third race of the Sprint Cup Series season from the pole.

Kobalt Tools 400 Final Practice Speeds

1. Matt Kenseth 184.112 mph

2. Kyle Busch 183.717 mph

3. Ryan Newman 183.680 mph

4. Carl Edwards 183.630 mph

5. Greg Biffle 183.511 mph

6. David Reutimann 183.349 mph

7. Martin Truex Jr. 183.312 mph

8. Tony Stewart 183.069 mph

9. Joey Logano 182.989 mph

10. Denny Hamlin 182.964 mph

11. Marcos Ambrose 182.908 mph

12. David Ragan 182.859 mph

13. Kurt Busch 182.859 mph

14. Mark Martin 182.840 mph

15. Jimmie Johnson 182.797 mph

16. Paul Menard 182.753 mph

17. A.J. Allmendinger 182.655 mph

18. Juan Pablo Montoya 182.580 mph

19. Kasey Kahne ` 182.562 mph

20. Jamie McMurray 182.426 mph

21. Jeff Gordon 182.377 mph

22. Jeff Burton 182.149 mph

23. Brian Vickers 181.100 mph

24. Trevor Bayne 181.928 mph

25. Brad Keselowski 181.781 mph

26. Regan Smith 181.775 mph

27. Kevin Harvick 181.574 mph

28. Clint Bowyer 181.117 mph

29. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 180.814 mph

30. Bobby Labonte 180.711 mph

31. Casey Mears 180.614 mph

32. David Gilliland 180.409 mph

33. Robby Gordon 180.204 mph

34. Joe Nemechek 179.880 mph

35. Andy Lally 179.635 mph

36. Bill Elliott 179.480 mph

37. Dave Blaney 179.325 mph

38. Landon Cassill 178.950 mph

39. Mike Skinner 178.589 mph

40. J.J. Yeley 177.901 mph

41. Tony Raines 176.887 mph

42. Michael McDowell 176.603 mph

43. Travis Kvapil 176.517 mph
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