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Truex prepares for potentially windy time at Las Vegas

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In a way, the area surrounding Las Vegas Motor Speedway is like the big bad wolf in the Three Little Pigs fable.

When conditions are right, it’ll huff and puff and blow cars all over the racetrack.

Martin Truex Jr. is quite aware of how gusty things can get at the 1.5-mile oval. And although weather predictions call for near-perfect conditions in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Cup race, Truex is ready to ride the wind if he has to in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry.

“Wind is usually a huge factor for drivers at the Las Vegas race,” Truex said in a media release. “It won’t affect the fans’ enjoyment of the race, but from our perspective we have to be ready for a sudden change of balance with the race car.

“Depending on what direction the wind is coming from it can change the way your car handles so drastically. The wind can actually make it flip 180 (degrees) on your balance from one end to the other on the racetrack. It’s really difficult.

“Last year we had winds so strong that it literally broke the windshield out of the race car. I thought the windshield was going to come in on me. The headwind on the frontstretch was almost like a tornado. As far as the handling goes it changes so drastically and it is something we battle every time we go there.”

Since joining Furniture Row in 2014, Truex has had finishes at Las Vegas of 14th (2014), a career-best second (2015) and 11th (2016) – a three-race average of 9.0.

“History will show that the mile-and-a-half tracks have been good for us,” Truex said. “After our performance in Atlanta on Sunday (eighth place), I feel our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota will have a good day, barring any unexpected issues, like a clutch problem and speeding penalty which we had in Atlanta.”

Truex has quickly climbed upward in the NASCAR Cup standings after just two races. He was 17th in the points after finishing 13th in the season-opening Daytona 500, and them climbed 10 spots to seventh place after his Atlanta showing.

With a three-race West Coast swing next up on the schedule – Las Vegas (1.5 miles), Phoenix (1-mile) and Fontana (2 miles) – Truex wants to keep things going in the right direction.

“If we’re going to make an early move, the next three western tracks are the kind we like,” Truex said. “But right now the only focus we have is on Las Vegas and how we can maximize our performance.”

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NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson involved in minor fender bender while leaving Fontana

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Kyle Larson‘s spectacular weekend at Auto Club Speedway — winning both Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup event — left him feeling good.

But shortly upon exiting the facility, Larson and several others were involved in a fender-bender right outside the Speedway. Larson was a passenger, not the driver.

No one was injured, Larson tweeted.

But somehow, isn’t that strange fate?

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson’s Fontana win shows continued maturing as a driver

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Kyle Larson finally broke his streak of three straight runner-up finishes with his win in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, the crew discussed his win as well as his maturation as a driver.