Drew Herring

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Kyle Larson posts fastest lap on final day of Las Vegas test

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Kyle Larson led the way again on the second and final day of the Cup organizational test Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, posting a lap of 191.259 mph.

Brad Keselowski won the pole last spring at Las Vegas with a lap of 193.68 mph.

Chevrolets posted the two spots overall Thursday with Larson and Ryan Newman (190.027 mph). Chevrolet cars had the top three speeds overall in Wednesday’s session. The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is making its debut this season.

“I feel good about it, and it’s been good to get back in a stock car after a couple months,” Larson said. “It felt like we had good speed, especially on that last long run we made. I feel like it was a good test, and it’s nice to know we still have a lot of speed in our cars with all the changes to the new Camaro.”

Sixteen drivers took part in the test.

“I feel like we got a good start with the new Camaro ZL1,” Newman said. “We’ll go through our notes and see how good we can do on our homework. The guys definitely want loads of data with the new car, and we definitely collected that.”

The only other driver to top 190 mph Thursday was Erik Jones, whose Toyota went 190.007 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was next with a lap of 189.827 mph, the fastest lap for a Ford in this test.

THE DAY’S FASTEST SPEEDS FROM BOTH SESSIONS COMBINED:

191.259 — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet), afternoon session

190.027 — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet), afternoon session

190.007 — Erik Jones (Toyota), afternoon session

189.827 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Ford), afternoon session

189.281 — William Byron (Chevrolet), morning session

189.009 — Kasey Kahne (Chevrolet), afternoon session

188.745 — Brad Keselowski (Ford), morning session

187.754 — Kurt Busch (Ford), morning session

187.500 — Paul Menard (Ford), morning session

187.500 — Ty Dillon (Chevrolet), morning session

187.318 — Chris Buescher (Chevrolet), afternoon session

187.298 — Darrell Wallace Jr. (Chevrolet), afternoon session

186.761 — Cole Custer (Ford), afternoon session

184.319 — Drew Herring (Toyota), morning session

183.824 — Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet), morning session

180.542 — David Ragan (Ford), morning session

NOTE: Herring, Allgaier and Ragan were driving wheel force cars for their respective manufacturers. Custer was in the No. 32 Go Fas Racing car.

TOP SPEEDS IN AFTERNOON SESSION

191.259 — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)

190.027 — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet)

190.007 — Erik Jones (Toyota)

189.827 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Ford)

189.009 — Kasey Kahne (Chevrolet)

TOP SPEEDS IN MORNING SESSION

189.281 — William Byron (Chevrolet)

189.129 — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)

188.745 — Brad Keselowski (Ford)

188.686 — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet)

187.754 — Kurt Busch (Ford)

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Kyle Larson posts fastest lap in opening day of Las Vegas test

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Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Wednesday’s organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The test, which featured 16 Cup drivers, concludes Thursday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 188.403 mph in the afternoon session. Brad Keselowski won the pole last spring at Las Vegas with a lap of 193.68 mph.

Rookie William Byron was next on the speed chart Wednesday with a lap of 188.298 mph, a time he set in the morning session. Ryan Newman was third at 188.186 mph, also set in the morning session.

The top three were all in Chevrolets. Wednesday marked the first time for many Chevrolet teams to be on track with the new Camaro.

“It seems fine,’’ Larson said of the new car. “It doesn’t seem too much different than the other car. Maybe it will be different once we get in traffic and stuff, but at a test you don’t really get to simulate that. It seemed to have good speed.”

Drivers expressed caution in reading too much into the day’s testing results.

“You never know who is tuned up to try to raise morale within their own team and who is legit,’’ Keselowski said. “I think usually the bigger teams are fairly legit at these tests, but then again from a production standpoint sometimes teams don’t bring their best cars.

“I know that Penske is notorious for that. We kind of always bring a car that is a generation or two behind just for production reasons, not because we’re trying to hide anything. We’re trying to make sure that all of our people are working on the race car not the test car.

“So you can never really tell for certain. That doesn’t mean you still can’t work on things. What we really put stock into is can we find something, can we identify the things that really make a difference in our race car and tune those and perhaps have a better understanding for when we come back to this track or one of similar nature.’’

Kurt Busch, who was fourth on the speed chart with a lap of 187.846 mph, said he was pleased with his car during the test.

“The car has speed,’’  he said. “It’s really similar on the balance for us with our Ford because we didn’t get a new body upgrade or anything over the offseason. Now it’s just a matter of settling in with my new crew chief, Billy Scott, and this group on the 41 car.’’

Here’s the day’s fastest laps from both sessions combined:

188.403 mph — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet), afternoon session

188.298 mph — William Byron (Chevrolet), morning session

188.186 mph — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet), morning session

187.846 mph — Kurt Busch (Ford), morning session

186.722 mph — Erik Jones (Toyota), afternoon session

186.574 mph — Brad Keselowski (Ford) afternoon session

186.245 mph — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Ford) morning session

186.200 mph — Kasey Kahne (Chevrolet), morning session

185.970 mph — Darrell Wallace Jr. (Chevrolet), morning session

185.701 mph — Paul Menard (Ford), afternoon session

185.631 mph — Chris Buescher (Chevrolet), morning session

185.052 mph — Ty Dillon (Chevrolet), morning session

184.887 mph — Drew Herring (Toyota), afternoon session

184.225 mph — Cole Custer (Ford), afternoon session

182.760 mph — Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet), morning session

181.971 mph — David Ragan (Ford), morning session

NOTE: Herring, Allgaier and Ragan were driving wheel force cars for their respective manufacturers. Custer was in the No. 32 Go Fas Racing car.

 

TOP LAPS IN MORNING SESSION

188.298 mph — William Byron (Chevrolet)

188.186 mph — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet)

187.846 mph — Kurt Busch (Ford)

187.643 mph — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)

186.509 mph — Erik Jones (Toyota)

 

TOP LAPS IN AFTERNOON SESSION

188.403 mph — Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)

187.162 mph — Ryan Newman (Chevrolet)

187.091 mph — William Byron (Chevrolet)

187.838 mph — Kurt Busch (Ford)

186.722 mph — Erik Jones (Toyota)

 

Testing … 1 … 2 … 3 … Cup teams set for Las Vegas test

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Sixteen drivers, including former champions Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch, are scheduled to take part in an organizational test Wednesday and Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This marks the first time for many teams to be on track for 2018. It marks the first time more than one Chevrolet Camaro – which is making its Cup debut this season – will be on track. Only Chase Elliott was on track with it earlier this month at a Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway. This week’s test comes about a month before the Cup Series returns to Las Vegas for the season’s third race of the year on March 4.

In an organizational test, each organization is allowed to have one team (and one driver) participate. Not all teams are participating. Furniture Row Racing, which won the championship last year with Martin Truex Jr., is not scheduled to take part in the test. He and the team took part in the Goodyear test at Texas.

Scheduled to test are:

Brad Keselowski (Team Penske)

Ty Dillon (Germain Racing)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing)

Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Paul Menard (Wood Brothers Racing)

William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports)

Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing)

Cole Custer (Go Fas Racing)

Chris Buescher (JTG Daugherty)

Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing)

Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Darrell Wallace Jr. (Richard Petty Motorsports)

Kasey Kahne (Leavine Family Racing)

Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet)

David Ragan (Ford)

Drew Herring (Toyota)

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Cup test begins today at Homestead-Miami Speedway

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Eight teams, including five in the playoffs, are scheduled to take part in an organizational test today and Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the Nov. 19 race that will crown the Cup champion.

Each organization is permitted to have one team at the test. Not all organizations are participating.

Scheduled to test are:

Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing)

Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports)

Brad Keselowski (Team Penske)

Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing)

Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing)

Trevor Bayne (Roush Fenway Racing)

Each manufacturer will have its own car. Alex Bowman will drive the Chevrolet car, Landon Cassill will drive the Ford car, and Drew Herring will drive the Toyota car.

Testing is set to go from noon – 7 p.m. ET today and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday.

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Chase Elliott has one goal for Talladega: ‘Keep all four (tires) on the ground’

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MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Kyle Larson relates to what Chase Elliott is going through with so many runner-up finishes while seeking his first career Cup win. Larson also knows what is likely in Elliott’s future.

“He will win,’’ Larson said after Elliott finished second last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “When he wins one, he is going to win a lot, similar to kind of what I did this year.’’

After scoring four runner-up finishes in his first 99 Cup starts, Larson won at Michigan in August 2016, triggering a run that has seen Larson become one of the sport’s dominant drivers. In the 41 starts since, Larson won four times, scored 10 runner-up finishes and had 19 top-five results.

Elliott already has six runner-up finishes in 71 career Cup starts, including three in the opening four playoff races. A win in the next two weeks would advance him to the Round of 8 and move him closer to his first Cup title.
“I certainly appreciate the kind words,’’ Elliott said of Larson’s comments. “We’ve been able to start the playoffs strong. It’s been refreshing to come to the track and have the kind of runs that we’ve been having and to come down pit road and have the stops that we’re having. We just have to make sure we carry that stuff forward. We have all the ingredients to do so.’’

Elliott said there’s not been one major change that has led to his team’s turnaround — he has not finished worse than 11th in the last six races — but notes that his cars and pit crew have improved and that’s played a key role.

“A big thing is coming down pit road and having some really good pit stops,’’ Elliott said during a break in testing Tuesday at Martinsville Speedway. “It’s hard to put a price tag on that. Our guys are doing their homework, they’re doing their jobs.

“When you can have your car balanced well … you’re going to get to a point where it is going to be harder and harder to pass guys. When you come down pit road and have solid pit stops, hopefully gain a spot or two here or there throughout a day, we’ve been able to stay in front of some of those guys that we jumped. That is really the kind of things you have to do to have success.’’

Elliott’s runner-up finish at Charlotte puts him 16 points ahead of the first car outside of a transfer spot to the next round, but Elliott is not conformable with that advantage heading into the unknown that is Talladega.

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

In May’s race at Talladega, Elliott was turned by AJ Allmendinger and got on his side down the backstretch while Allmendinger ended up sliding on his roof in a crash that damaged 18 of the 40 cars.

“You go cross your fingers,’’ Elliott said of Sunday’s race. “The stage points are very valuable, and I think everybody knows that. So everybody is going to want to go and get stage points. There’s also a price tag with wrecking that early in the race. Hopefully, we’re not in it and we can get out of there and just keep all four on the ground this time, I’d be happy.’’

As for Tuesday, Elliott was taking part in an organizational test at Martinsville Speedway. The test continues Wednesday. Other playoff drivers taking part in the test include Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson. Also testing were Austin and Ty Dillon and Landon Cassill (Ford), Alex Bowman (Chevrolet) and Drew Herring (Toyota ).

“Just trying to find some consistency and what I’m doing behind the wheel and really some of the things I did here in the spring, I thought was my best race here,’’ said Elliott, who finished third in the spring race and had nine-time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon at the test Tuesday helping him. “Trying to find that rhythm.’’

If he advances through this round, the Oct. 29 Cup race at Martinsville could be the one that helps him advance to the championship finale next month in Miami.

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