las vegas motor speedway

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Cole Custer to make Cup debut at Las Vegas

Leave a comment

Cole Custer will make his Cup debut with Rick Ware Racing in the March 4 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the team confirmed Wednesday.

The 20-year-old Custer, who is in his second full season in the Xfinity Series, will drive the No. 51 car. That car has a charter and is guaranteed a starting spot. Custer took part in the Cup test at Las Vegas last month.

Haas Automation will be Custer’s sponsor.

“This is a dream come true to compete in the Cup Series,” Custer said in a team release. “I can’t thank Rick Ware Racing and Haas Automation enough for the opportunity to race at Las Vegas. It’s going to be a new experience for me, but I feel that we can have a productive day by completing all the laps and seeing the checkered flag.”

Custer has two career starts at Las Vegas. He placed third in the 2016 Camping World Truck Series race and was 11th in last year’s Xfinity race.

Custer will drive a Ford for Rick Ware Racing. Justin Marks drove for Rick Ware Racing in the Daytona 500 when the team fielded a Chevrolet. Harrison Rhodes will make his Cup debut this weekend in Atlanta for the team. That car also will be a Chevrolet.

 and on Facebook

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

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for NASCAR
Leave a comment

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)

 and on Facebook

Kurt Busch: Cup test at home track like ‘first day of school’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kurt Busch described the first day of NASCAR’s organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the “first day at school” for the 2018 Cup season.

“You have a new group of guys and then there’s the same tendencies that come back into play like tire wear, engine temp,” Busch said Wednesday during a break in the test. “We’re working on pit road speed, which is a new way of doing things on our car. There’s the newness feeling that you’re working through, but it’s exciting.”

Busch was fourth on the speed chart Wednesday.

But the Stewart-Haas Racing driver doesn’t want his No. 41 team to fall into the trap of buying into any hype from the two-day test.

Because the next time the Cup Series arrives at the 1.5-mile track, it’ll be under different circumstances.

“I’m hopeful that we learn all the right things and we don’t jade ourselves in a direction that happens a lot in test sessions,” Busch. “A lot of times test sessions are cooler temperatures than when we race and track grip level is higher than when we race and you can easily get askew from what the real race day setup numbers are going to be.”

On Thursday, the projected high in Las Vegas was 72 degrees, according to wunderground.com. The first Cup race of the year at LVMS will be held March 4. According to accuweather, the historic average high for that day is 66 degrees.

But the newly added fall race, which will open the playoffs, is scheduled for Sept. 16. The historical average high for that day is 93 degrees.

Busch arrived in his hometown for the test after an offseason full of waiting for a new contract to be finalized with SHR and a change in crew chiefs for the defending Daytona 500 winner.

Billy Scott takes over for long-time crew chief Tony Gibson. Gibson now has a job overseeing car production at the SHR shop after spending the last three seasons working with Busch.

“It felt good to get the contract signed,” Busch said. “We had to go through some of the waiting period in what you would call free agency, but it wasn’t all that equivalent to such. It’s more about all the balls in the air with sponsorship, manufacturer, my agenda, the team’s agenda. It’s great to have that behind us. With Billy Scott, new crew chief, that was part of one of the things that I was looking to work on. Where’s the personnel going to fit in? Because I knew in my heart Tony Gibson … wanted to come off the road. We had to make sure we made all the right adjustments behind the scenes for that.”

Before the Cup Series returns to Las Vegas in just over a month, it begins the season at Daytona International Speedway with the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The 39-year-old driver will seek to become the first driver to win the Daytona 500 in back-to-back seasons since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995.

“Definitely feeling the pressure for Daytona,” Busch said. “Family and friends have been asking me, ‘You won Daytona, do you feel less pressure?’ I feel more. I want to go back there and repeat and it hasn’t been done since the (mid) 90s with Sterling Marlin. That gives us that extra motivation to go there and win. Frankly, I don’t want to share any of the spoils that come with winning Daytona. I want to keep that for ourselves again.”

His win last year was his first points win on a restrictor-plate track. Entering his 18th full-time season in Cup, Busch is still looking for his first victory at his home track.

The March 4 race will mark Busch’s 17th Cup start in Las Vegas. But this year will be the first time he’s gotten two chances to win at it in one season.

“It’s never translated into home-field advantage, I’ve always struggled here in Vegas,” Busch said. “I’ve qualified well over the years but haven’t raced well.”

Busch has one top five at LVMS. That came in 2005 when he drove for Roush Fenway Racing. His average finish is 21.8.

“I’m looking to turn that around,” Busch said. “There’s no sense in having those fast laps at the beginning if you can’t back them up at the end of the race.”

 and on Facebook

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

Photo: Chevrolet
Leave a comment

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)

 

Social Roundup: Cup teams take part in Las Vegas test

Richard Petty Motorsports
Leave a comment

We’re now 18 days away from the Daytona 500 and 11 days away from the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

But NASCAR racing is already here.

Multiple Cup teams are taking part in a two-day test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we have the video and pictures to prove it.

Darrell Wallace Jr. was first on track in Day 1 of the test. It’s his first action as the full-time driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet.

Apparently, the rookie driver for Richard Petty Motorsports was a little eager to burn rubber.

Ryan Newman had the fastest lap time early, but rookie William Byron went to the top within two hours in his first track time in the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports.

A little testing here in Vegas today #shakeycam @bubbawallace

A post shared by Jesse S. (@jms_90) on

 and on Facebook