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Why Las Vegas test is so important

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While nearly two dozen Cup and Xfinity teams will take part in this week’s two-day test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, at least one new driver-crew chief combination is putting its significance into perspective, particularly due to the new rules package that will mark the first time teams experience the new aerodynamic and horsepower elements.

“It’s almost at the very top (of all-time tests), obviously, because this is our one chance to work on communication and the new package, and we have some new players in the shop too, engineering-wise,” Matt McCall, crew chief for Kurt Busch at Chip Ganassi Racing, told a media gathering earlier this week.

“We’ve got a lot of different stuff we need to communicate on, not just between me and Kurt, but also the team and Kurt,” McCall added. “So, it’s pretty high up there, for sure.”

Busch, who won the 2004 Cup championship, is looking forward to the test at his hometown track and to work on car-to-team on-track communication. Busch owns LVMS’ speed record of 196.328 mph (set in 2016), but given the new package’s horsepower limitations, it’s unlikely he’ll come close to that speed in the test.

“For me, it’s just to get behind the wheel and to feel the Chevrolet and feel the drivetrain and to go through a few setup changes,” Busch said. “I think the most important thing is radio communication and how we want to mock-up certain pit stop sequences for changes as we’re out on-track and just having that banter back and forth so when we roll into Daytona, we’re best prepared.

“That’s a big reason why Chip Ganassi Racing is having the No. 1 car go do this test is to work the bugs out of it and just work those sequences into how we’re going to go attack things in Daytona.”

Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials are also touting the significance of the test on Thursday and Friday, issuing a media release with this headline: “Elite drivers ready for one of the most important tests in NASCAR history.”

The data teams collect from the test will go a long way towards adapting early in the season to 1.5-mile tracks such as Atlanta Motor Speedway and LVMS, which host the second and third races of 2019 – Feb. 24 and March 3, respectively – after the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

In addition to Busch and McCall, the Las Vegas test will also be the first on-track interaction between several other driver/crew chief combinations including Jimmie Johnson and new crew chief Kevin Meendering, Chad Knaus and William Byron at Hendrick Motorsports and Ryan Newman and Scott Graves at Roush Fenway Racing.

The test will be open to fans with free admission. Also, NASCAR.com will be streaming parts of the test.

Here’s the list of drivers and teams that will be taking part in the Las Vegas test:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
0 Landon Cassill, Starcom Racing, Chevrolet
1 Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet
2 Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford
3 Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet
6 Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford
13 Ty Dillon, Germain Racing, Chevrolet
14 Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford
18 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
21 Paul Menard, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford
43 Bubba Wallace, Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet
47 Ryan Preece, JTG Racing, Chevrolet
48 Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet
51 Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, Chevrolet
95 Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota
Chevrolet W
heel Force car Ross Chastain, Chevrolet Racing
Ford W
heel Force car David Ragan, Ford Motor Company
Toyota W
heel Force car Drew Herring, Toyota Racing Development

NASCAR Xfinity Series
8 Zane Smith, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet
9 Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet
18 Riley Herbst, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
98 Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford

Event schedule (all times Eastern Time):
Thursday, Jan. 31

11 a.m.–Practice begins; LVMS gates, grandstands and pit road (via infield tunnel) open to the public
2 p.m.–Drafting practice on track
3-4 p.m.–Driver’s lunch break, driver group interviews in media center
6 p.m.–Drafting practice on track
8 p.m.–Drafting practice on track
10 p.m.–Track secure

Friday, Feb. 1
11 a.m.–Practice begins; LVMS gates, grandstands and pit road (via infield tunnel) open to the public
Noon –Drafting practice on track
2 p.m.–Drafting practice on track
3 p.m. –Track secure

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Drivers gear up for important two-day test in Las Vegas

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Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host a major two-day organizational test for Cup and Xfinity Series teams starting Thursday.

The test is significant because it will be the largest collection of teams to test the Cup Series’ 2019 rules package at the same time.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Brad Keselowski, who will take part in the test, on how the new package will be on track. “You’ll figure it out.”

There will be 21 drivers involved, including 16 Cup drivers and two full-time Xfinity drivers, Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe. Ross Chastain, David Ragan and Drew Herring each will drive manufacture wheel force cars. Xfinity drivers Zane Smith and Riley Herbst will also be present.

The test, which is open to the public, will be from 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. ET Thursday and from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. ET Friday.

On Thursday, the first of three drafting practice sessions will begin at 2 p.m ET. The other two drafting practice sessions are scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m. ET.

Friday will feature two drafting practice sessions at Noon and 2 p.m. ET.

Here’s who is involved in the test.

Cup Series Drivers
No. 00 – Landon Cassill, Starcom Racing, Chevrolet
No. 1 – Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet
No. 2 – Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford
No. 3 – Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet
No. 6 – Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford
No. 13 – Ty Dillon, Germain Racing, Chevrolet
No. 14 – Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford
No. 18 – Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
No. 21 – Paul Menard, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford
No. 43 – Bubba Wallace, Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet
No. 47 – Ryan Preece, JTG Racing, Chevrolet
No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet
No. 51 – Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, Chevrolet
No. 95 – Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota
Chevrolet Wheel Force car Ross Chastain, Chevrolet Racing
Ford Wheel Force car David Ragan, Ford Motor Company
Toyota Wheel Force car Drew Herring, Toyota Racing Development

Xfinity Series drivers
No. 8 Zane Smith, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet
No. 9 Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet
No. 18 Riley Herbst, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
No. 98 Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford

 

Drivers to take part in Cup Las Vegas organizational test

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Las Vegas Motor Speedway has announced a roster of 14 drivers who will take part in the first Cup organizational test of the year on Jan. 31-Feb. 1.

The test on the 1.5-mile track will be one of the first opportunities for teams to test the 2019 rules package that includes a tapered spacer.

The drivers who will take part:

Brad Keselowski (Team Penske)

Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports)

Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Kurt Busch (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Ryan Newman (Roush Fenway Racing)

Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing)

Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing)

Landon Cassill (StarCom Racing)

Matt DiBenedetto (Leavine Family Racing)

Ryan Preece (JTG Daugherty Racing)

Paul Menard (Wood Brothers Racing)

Ross Chastain, David Ragan and Drew Herring are also scheduled to be at the track. They will be driving manufacture wheel force cars.

The test will be the first on-track time for Kurt Busch, Newman, Preece and DiBenedetto with their new teams.

The test is tentatively scheduled to run from 11 am to 9 pm ET on Jan. 31 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 1.

A section of the main grandstands and pit road will be open to fans at the test.

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Cup teams testing Monday, Tuesday at Kansas Speedway

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Before Cup teams race on the Charlotte Roval this weekend, some will take part in an organizational test Monday and Tuesday at Kansas Speedway.

At such a test, an organization can have one team participate. Six playoff drivers are scheduled to test this week. Not all organizations chose to take part in the test.

Scheduled to test at Kansas Speedway are:

Chris Buescher (JTG Daugherty Racing)

Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing)

Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Cole Custer (Rick Ware Racing)

Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing)

Ty Dillon (Germain Racing)

Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports)

Matt Kenseth (Roush Fenway Racing)

Joey Logano (Team Penske)

Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Paul Menard (Wood Brothers)

Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing)

Truex is scheduled to test Monday only. Also, Justin Allgaier is scheduled to drive the Chevrolet wheel force car, David Ragan is scheduled to drive the Ford wheel force car and Drew Herring is scheduled to drive the Toyota wheel force car.

Playoff driver listed in italics

Cup teams taking part in two-day test at Richmond Raceway

Richmond Raceway
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NASCAR is holding a two-day organizational test at Richmond Raceway Monday and Tuesday ahead of the Sept. 22 night race at the short track.

One car from each team is permitted to take part in the test.

Drivers taking part in the test: Jimmie Johnson, Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, David Ragan, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, and Drew Herring.

Grandstands are open Monday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET and Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET.

Fans can enter the track via the Main Gate at the corner of Laburnum Ave. and Richmond-Henrico Turnpike.

Coolers are permitted into the grandstands.