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Today’s Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, lineup and more

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A new look to the racing could take place today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cup teams will use the new aero package, including aero ducts, that are intended to tighten the racing.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the racing will be like at this track. It’s time to find out.

Here’s all the information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: NHRA drivers Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 3:46 p.m.

PRERACE CEREMONIES: Driver introductions begin at 3 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3:30 p.m. Cassadee Pope, season 3 winner of “The Voice” and a Grammy nominated recording artist, will perform the National Anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 68 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Brad Keselowski won the playoff opener at Las Vegas last September. Kyle Larson was second. Martin Truex Jr. placed third. Kevin Harvick won this race a year ago. Kyle Busch was second. Larson placed third.  

TO THE REAR: Landon Cassill (changed gear) and Ty Dillon (engine)

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

NBC Sports Power Rankings heading to Las Vegas

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Denny Hamlin is out, and Kyle Busch is in – in first place for this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, that is – heading into Sunday’s race at Busch’s home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch was unanimously selected by NBC Sports’ NASCAR Talk writers for the top spot, while Daytona 500 winner Hamlin dropped to fifth.

Brad Keselowski, who didn’t receive any votes in last week’s Power Rankings, vaults to the No. 2 spot after winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway — and while battling flu-like symptoms, no less.

Other notable jumps: Kevin Harvick (from ninth to third this week), Kyle Larson (zero votes last week to fourth) and Martin Truex Jr. (zero votes to sixth this week).

Dropping out of this week’s Power Rankings: Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain and William Byron.

Here are this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): One of two drivers to finish in the top 10 in this season’s first two races. At Atlanta, he overcame a cut tire and had to navigate through the field in the new rules package to finish sixth.

2. Brad Keselowski (33 points): Racing while sick is one thing; winning while sick – particularly with having to race 500 miles – is a major accomplishment.

3. Kevin Harvick (26 points): Take away a wreck that wasn’t his fault at Daytona, and the Stewart-Haas Racing driver would be in the top two.

4. Kyle Larson (25 points): Having the strongest car at Atlanta could bode well for the future, but Las Vegas will be a better indicator of his speed.

5. Denny Hamlin (21 points): With a win at Daytona and 11th at Atlanta, he’s off to a strong start for 2019. Can he continue his success during the three-race West Coast swing?

6. Martin Truex Jr. (19 points): In his second race with Joe Gibbs Racing, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn showed they haven’t lost a step, at least when it comes to 1.5-mile tracks, placing second to Keselowski. Without lapped cars, maybe Truex is higher on this list.

7. Erik Jones (17 points): One of only two drivers (Kyle Busch is the other) to finish in the top 10 in each of the first two races: third at Daytona and seventh at Atlanta.

(tie) 8. Christopher Bell (10 points): With Daytona behind him, Bell picked up where he left off in 2018, leading all but 21 laps in the Xfinity race and sweeping every stage on his way to the win.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (10 points): Mistakes and miscalculations held this team back at Atlanta.

10. Aric Almirola (8 points): Earned his first pole since 2012 and led 36 laps in the first stage before a speeding penalty dropped him deep into the field. Unlike Kyle Larson, he was able to get back into the top 10 before the end of the race, placing eighth.

Others receiving votes: Clint Bowyer (6 points), Chris Buescher (3 points), Kurt Busch (2 points) and Chase Elliott (1 point).

Guide to 2019 Cup Series paint schemes

Stewart-Haas Racing
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We’re less than a day from having cars on-track at Daytona International Speedway to begin the 2019 Cup Series season.

Below is an updated guide to confirmed series paint schemes for this season.

Which is your favorite?

MORE: Full speedweeks schedule

No. 00 – Landon Cassill

Cassill’s Daytona 500 car

Star Com Racing

No. 1 – Kurt Busch

Chip Ganassi Racing
Gear Wrench Instagram

No. 2 – Brad Keselowski

Team Penske
Team Penske

No. 3 – Austin Dillon

Dillon’s Daytona 500 car celebrating Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary.

(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)

No. 4 – Kevin Harvick

 

Stewart-Haas Racing

Hunt Brothers Pizza Twitter

No. 6 – Ryan Newman

Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing
Performance Plus Oil
Roush Fenway Racing

No. 8 – Daniel Hemric

The car Hemric will race in the Daytona 500 honoring Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary.

RCR
RCR
RCR

No. 9 – Chase Elliott

Hendrick Motorsports

 

Hooters
Kelley Blue Book
Hendrick Motorsports

No. 10 – Aric Almirola

No. 11 – Denny Hamlin

No. 12 – Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney Twitter account

No. 13 – Ty Dillon

Germain Racing

No. 14 – Clint Bowyer

Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing

 

No. 17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

Roush Fenway Racing

 

Sunny D Racing

No. 18 – Kyle Busch

Joe Gibbs Racing

No. 19 – Martin Truex Jr. 

Martin Truex Jr. Twitter
Joe Gibbs Racing

No. 20 – Erik Jones

Joe Gibbs Racing

No. 21 – Paul Menard

Wood Brothers Racing

No. 22 – Joey Logano

No. 24 – William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports

No. 32 – Corey LaJoie

Go Fas Racing

No. 34 – Michael McDowell

Front Row Motorsports

No. 36 – Matt Tifft

Tifft’s Daytona 500 car

Front Row Motorsports

No. 37 – Chris Buescher

Buescher’s Daytona 500 car

Photo: Dustin Long

Buescher’s car will feature seven different monthly themes throughout the season to spotlight different brands sold at Kroger

March

April

May

June and July

Back-to-School

Fall

No. 38 – David Ragan

No. 40 – Jamie McMurray

McMurray is scheduled to make one start so far in 2019 as part of a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports.

No. 41 Daniel Suarez

No. 42 – Kyle Larson

Chip Ganassi Racing

No. 43 – Bubba Wallace

Wallace’s car for the Daytona 500

Plan B Sales

 

No. 47 – Ryan Preece

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING

No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson

Hendrick Motorsports

No. 88 – Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports

 

Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports

No. 95 – Matt DiBenedetto

 

Leavine Family Racing
Matt DiBenedetto Twitter

 

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