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Pit road speeding on the minds of drivers at Las Vegas

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A week after NASCAR issued 13 pit road speeding penalties, at least one Cup driver fears Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could top that.

“This weekend will be brutal because we’ve never had these timing lines here at Vegas and Vegas is notoriously difficult on speeders,’’ Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch said Friday.

He’s not exaggerating.

NASCAR has issued 20 speeding penalties in the last two Cup races at Las Vegas, including one to Busch. Others who have been penalized include Brad Keselowski, who came back to win last year’s race, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.

MORE: Click here for look at where timing lines will be on pit road

NASCAR began adding timing lines on pit road in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That was after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized for passing on the left on pit road after he accelerated between timing lines at Kentucky.

Last week was the first time at Atlanta since the change and the impact was significant. Kevin Harvick lost the lead after he was caught speeding on the final stop. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were each caught speeding twice.

“We knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments.

“We just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”

Keselowski isn’t so sure that pit road penalties will play as big an impact as the season progresses.

“I think that’s one of those things where everybody kind of learns the new boundary and then they get settled in and it kind of goes away,’’ he said.

Chris Buescher did not get hit with a pit road speeding penalty at Atlanta and has a way of avoiding such an issue.

“One speeding penalty will take away any progress that any 49.5 mph versus 49 mph on pit road will have gained you throughout a race,’’ Buescher said. “Yeah, you’ve got to max it out, but (I) look at the bigger picture and make sure that we don’t have a speeding penalty. I’m not worried about the extra lines here.”

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NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.