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Chris Fontaine surprises with fastest speed in final Truck practice at Talladega

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Chris Fontaine, who is making his first start in the Camping World Truck Series this season, was the surprising fastest driver in Friday’s second and final practice at Talladega.

Driving the No. 47 Toyota Tundra, Fontaine covered the 2.66-mile, high-banked tri-oval at a field-best speed of 187.897 mph.

Stewart Friesen was second (187.835 mph), followed by Grant Enfinger (187.761), Myatt Snider (186.696), Noah Gragson (186.547), Christopher Bell (185.823), Justin Haley (184.883), Johnny Sauter (181.247), Clay Greenfield (179.642) and Parker Kligerman (179.259).

Qualifying takes place Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET, just before the Fred’s 250 race, which will take the green flag at 1 p.m. ET

Click here for the full final practice speed chart.

NASCAR drivers from Las Vegas raise funds for shooting victims

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Several NASCAR drivers and media personalities who are either natives of or live in Las Vegas are getting behind a new effort to raise money to help the victims and families of those killed and injured in last Sunday’s mass shooting.

DriversForVegas.com is partnering with Las Vegas-based Zappos to raise money via a crowdsource effort on Crowdrise.com. As of 1 pm ET on Friday, the effort has raised nearly $200,000 in its first three days.

In addition, Zappos has announced it will match 100 percent of the donations made up to $1 million.

Among marquee names behind the effort are NASCAR drivers Kurt and Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan, Spencer Gallagher, Noah Gragson and Jamie Little of Fox Sports.

They have also joined together to form DriversForVegas.com, where individuals can buy t-shirts, stickers or simply make a donation (the website is expected to be live early next week).

Here’s what some of those involved are saying:

Spencer Gallagher: “We are asking the NASCAR family to come together and help the great city of Las Vegas by visiting DriversForVegas.com to purchase a shirt or sticker, or simply make a donation. Las Vegas has always been there for and supported us, and this is a great opportunity for us to give back and be there for them.”

Kurt Busch: “It was horrific what happened in our hometown and we all send our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas. It really hit home to all of us and as Nevada natives, we hope everyone supports our efforts.”

Kyle Busch: “Like most Americans, I was devastated to hear about Sunday’s tragic events in my hometown. As a group of racers from Las Vegas, we wanted to find a way for ourselves, along with our race fans, to help the victims and families of this unthinkable act.”

Brendan Gaughan will carry this message on the hood of his No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Brendan Gaughan: “With so many NASCAR drivers from Las Vegas, I feel like it’s the least we can do to ask our racing community to band together in helping those who have bee affected by this tragedy. Thank you to all those who have already helped. I have never been more proud to say that I am #VegasStrong.”

Noah Gragson: “When Spencer (Gallagher) called me with this idea, I was all in to help do anything to try to heal our community.”

Jamie Little: “This is a great initiative that Spencer has started. Our Las Vegas NASCAR contingent is small but we’re mighty. All of us, along with your help, will give to the families and victims involved and help lift some of the burden they have endured.”

On another front, Gaughan will have a special paint scheme (above) honoring the Las Vegas victims in this weekend’s racing action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gaughan’s No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet will carry a hood that will feature “#VegasStrong” on it.

 

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Ben Rhodes earns first career Truck win, advances to second round of playoffs

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Ben Rhodes blocked a last lap challenge by Christopher Bell to win his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Saturday night’s Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Rhodes made his win look easy, but it was far from it. With seven laps to go, Rhodes ran low around the first three trucks on a restart, got past and then held on to take the checkered flag.

In so doing, Rhodes — a native of Louisville, Kentucky — gets an automatic berth into the second round of the Truck Series playoffs.

Bell finished second, followed by Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric and Kaz Grala.

MOREResults from Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race in Las Vegas

MORE: Christopher Bell holds dominating lead in Truck playoffs

John Hunter Nemechek looked like he might win, but ran out of gas with 14 laps left while in the lead after Austin Wayne Self wrecked on Lap 133, then stalled twice on pit road and was never able to catch back up. Nemechek, who is at risk of elimination in the playoffs, finished eighth.

Stage winners: Stage 1 (Chase Briscoe), Stage 2 (Ben Rhodes)

Who else had a good race: Christopher Bell gave it everything he had, but passed on a chance to wreck Rhodes on the last lap. “That was some intense racing right there,” Bell said. “Really happy for Ben, he’s been long overdue for that win. He earned it tonight.”

Who had a bad race: Myatt Snider’s race didn’t even last a full lap, spinning and hitting the wall in Turn 3. … A big wreck occurred on Lap 23 when Austin Cindric got into the rear of Johnny Sauter, spinning him into the wall. Kaz Grala was also involved. All three were able to continue, but were never able to get back up in the field to challenge.

Notable: There have now been 11 different winners in the last 11 Truck races. … Noah Gragson was penalized twice for speeding on pit road. … Making his first NASCAR start since 2015, Travis Pastrana finished 22nd.

Quote of the day: “I used every play in my playbook. That was the most nervous thing I’ve ever done in my life. This is the biggest high of my life. I just never thought it would come after so many things went wrong, and now it did.” – Race winner Ben Rhodes

What’s next: The series is off next weekend but returns Saturday, Oct. 14, with the Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. That will also mark the first cutdown race of the Truck playoffs.

Kaz Grala fastest in final Truck practice in Las Vegas

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Kaz Grala posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s final Camping World Truck Series practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Grala paced the field with a lap of 179.045 mph.

He was followed by Noah Gragson (179.039 mph), Christopher Bell (178.832), Johnny Sauter (178.772) and Ryan Truex (178.330).

Matt Crafton had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 176.225 mph. He was followed by Chase Briscoe (176.091 mph) and Grala (175.744).

Twenty-eight trucks practiced.

Click here for practice report

Qualifying and the race are later today.

Johnny Sauter paces opening Truck practice at Las Vegas

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Johnny Sauter posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s opening Camping World Truck Series practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Sauter led the way with a lap of 179.468 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Truex (178.619 mph), Matt Crafton (178.589), Noah Gragson (178.512) and Stewart Friesen (178.506).

Twenty trucks practiced in the session. Noah Gragson had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 175.781 mph.

The series has one practice left today, followed by qualifying and tonight’s race.