6:40 p.m. - Comments from Kyle Busch, who qualified fifth for Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
(How was your car in qualifying?) I thought there was more in that lap than what it showed. That's all the M&M's Camry had in it. I was flat-out as hard as I could go -- didn't really mess up that much.
(How important is being on the pole here at Las Vegas?) You want to sit on the pole anywhere, but it seems like this is my best shot at getting it every year because I can't do it anywhere else except for here. We'd rather win the race -- the big prize is Sunday.
(What do you need to do to get better for Sunday?) We need to get over the bumps a little bit more. The bumps in (Turn) one seem to be throwing everybody for a loop, but ours isn't that bad. We'll see if we can't get it going.
6:35 p.m. - Comments from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified fourth for Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
That was a good lap. We worked really hard in practice to get the National Guard/Amp Energy Chevy as good as we could and it paid off. Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys did a great job.
6:25 p.m. - Comments from Ryan Newman, who qualified third for Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
(Why did so many drivers break the track record?) Mother Nature is following us in the form of rain andit seems like it's been cool for qualifying almost every time. If it had been sunny, it would have been a bigger difference depending on where you drew.
(Does this give you confidence going into Sunday's race after the start you've had this season ?) What happened to us was poor luck; we got crashed at Daytona and we lost an engine there at California. It's tough but we know where we were at at this time last year and it's about the same spot. We've run a lot better than we did last year. I'm very confident for Sunday's race. We only get to come to places like here and Kansas and Indy one time each year so you're gambling when you have nothing to go off of (like we did with a new team lastyear). To come here with the experience of qualifying good last year and then improving this year, I think that we've done some good things.
6:10 p.m. - Comments from Jeff Gordon, who qualified second for Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
We're real happy. Obviously, we would have liked to have been on the pole but Kurt had a great lap there. I felt like we got a little bit free off of (Turn) four and that might have been the difference. But all in all, it was a great, great day for us and we look forward to Sunday's race.
(Eighteen drivers broke the track record today. Why was is so much faster?) Tires. There are some new tires. Goodyear brought a different tire ... and it's definitely the tire. The teams do a great job creating a little bit more power this year and we found ways to make the cars a little bit faster but the majority of what happened today was the tires.
We made two, maybe three short race runs (in practice), which is sort of what we're going to do this year and it certainly paid off today. The car felt real good. I felt like we were missing a little bit of speed at the beginning of the run, but it felt like it was really solid looking at the times on the fifth lap. But then we went into qualifying trim and made qualifying runs. But you've still got to qualify. You've got to qualify up front. Track position is important. We'll just wait and see what happens tomorrow.
5:50 p.m. - Comments from Kurt Busch, who won the pole for Sunday's Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
KURT BUSCH: It was really an unexpected lap. Looking back at some of the decisions that (crew chief) Steve Addington made, just looking at our notebook, I'm following his direction on some of the key things that maybe I've been missing with the COT. To get a pole with the COT - this is my first one, I think, with this new car. It's been that long. I'm stoked and to do it here in my hometown of Vegas is really exciting to me.
(On taking the track record held by younger brother Kyle.) It's just neat sitting on the pole. Over time, things sink in and get better with time. Kyle's had great success here in Vegas and I've now got the right guy in my camp. It seems like Steve Addington definitely has his game on here at this track. I just hope that bleeds over to Sunday. To have the track record, that's cool. Next year could be better conditions for qualifying and track records are meant to be broken but to sit on it for 365 more days, we'll take it.
(What was the difference between this year and last year, when you qualified second?) You never know howfast your car can go sometimes. You go off the confidence that you see around you, which is the other guys going just in front of you. You base it off track conditions and today, the track conditions were ideal and we had a good pill draw. Luck always has to be on your side when you have a pole or when you have things go your way.
(How confident are you for Sunday's race?) We just hope that we find the right combination to make our tires last, to make the handling right and to be there when it counts Sunday.
(How special would it be to win in your hometown?) You can't count your chickens before they hatch but this would be a special win. It's hard to talk about it and play ‘what if' in m ymind. It would be even much more special this time around because mom issitting at home - she couldn't make the trip out this year with the surgery she had, but I know she'll be rooting us on sitting at home and I know she's pushing for both the 18 (Kyle) and the 2. It's the people that make it special to me. You always remember the people that helped you get to where I've gotten i nracing and when I get to see them again coming back to Vegas, it's just fun seeing everybody and being busy.
It's good to be up front because you get the first pit-box position, as far as choice. I'm a bit giddy and celebrating right now but we've got our job to do, which is a full 400 miles and I hope I find myself in position towards the endof the race - which means elbows up, feeling nervous and racing my Miller Lite Dodge for all it's got at lap 267.
5:20 p.m. - Kurt Busch, a Las Vegas native, captured the pole for Sunday's Shelby American with a track-record lap of 188.719 mph. Jeff Gordon (188.646) will start on the outside of the front row. Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
4:58 p.m. - Danica Patrick stopped by the media center this afternoon to talk about her progress as she prepares for her third NASCAR Nationwide Series start in Saturday's Sam's Town 300.
Patrick, who will be taking a break from NASCAR after this weekend to concentrate on IndyCar racing, said she is getting more comfortable in her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Patrick was 23rd fastest in Friday's first practice and slipped to 25th in the final practice.
"We had a better day out there in the GoDaddy car than we did last weekend - it was a little bit of a struggle at Fontana," she said. "I think that (crew chief Tony Eury Jr.) is just starting to learn my style and the things that I need when I arrive at a track for the very first time to give me confidence and help me drive the car into the corner hard.
"We pretty much spent the first and second session just getting the car to rotate more and more and more and more all the time. I'm pleased. I wish we were a little quicker because until you're up at the top, you're not satisfied. We're inching up on it and I'm feeling much more comfortable in the car than I did last weekend."
As far as the media attention she has been receiving, Patrick called it "mildly superficial" and said she is not taking it too seriously.
"I'm grateful for it now," she said. "It's great for the sport, it's great for me and it's great for the sponsors. I am having fun while I'm doing it but you just can't get too addicted to it because there's the other side of it where it goes away."
4:05 p.m. - Jimmie Johnson says he has no resentment for the media and fan attention that has been showered upon Danica Patrick since she decided to try her hand at NASCAR racing. What Johnson would like to have seen, however, was Patrick get a little more experience in stock cars before attempting her first Nationwide Series race.
"As a community, she couldn't have been more welcomed in a better way," Johnson said. "Drivers, competitors - everyone - has been excited to see her come to NASCAR and to be apart of it.
"I think where a lot of fear comes in is that it would have been really good for her to run in a couple seasons of Late Models, more ARCA races, more truck races before (she) even gets to Nationwide. It is a very competitive sport and you hate to have this great opportunity, the spotlight that's on her, and then for her to not run well. That's been the big risk in my eyes all along."
Johnson said his concern was that Patrick's star power in NASCAR could fade is she fails in her attempt to make the move to stock-car racing. Patrick will be making her third career Nationwide Series start in Saturday's Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"She is going to draw a ton of media attention and we need to take advantage of this and ride that horse as far as we can," he said. "But if we beat the horse to death before it completes the first lap and she's up to speed and knows what she's doing, it's going to be bad for all of us.
"As she finishes -- I guess this is her final race for a while in a stock car - (if) she can find a way to go and drive ARCA races or test or practice - even go race Late Models ... I think that's what she needs to do to speed up the (learning) curve to take advantage of this great opportunity she has in our sport."
1:30 p.m. - Paul Menard posted the fastest lap in Friday's first NASCAR Nationwide Series practice session for Saturday's Sam's Town 300. Menard topped the speed chart with a lap at 179.868 mph and was followed by Greg Biffle (179.313) and Carl Edwards (178.772).
Danica Patrick, making her Las Vegas Motor Speedway debut, was 23rd fastest among the 50 drivers who took part in the session. Las Vegas natives Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan were fourth and 24th, respectively.
1:25 p.m. - With rain in the forecast for Saturday, which could jeopardize the two Sprint Cup Series practice sessions for Sunday's Shelby American race, most teams and drivers are altering their preparations for today's qualifying by concentrating on race setups rather than qualifying setups.
At least one driver, 2008 LVMS race winner Carl Edwards, said that change might turn out to be a benefit to the No. 99 team.
"It might help us," Edwards said Friday morning. "It seems like the harder we try, the slower we go. Right now, what we're focused on -- what Drew (Blickensderfer) has been working on and what Bob (Osborne) have been working on -- what everyone has been working on -- is trying to figure out what we're missing.
"The more time we can get to practice race stuff the better and I think that, in a way, not having to focus on qualifying is a little bit of a blessing. We can try some things we've been wanting to try because, let's face it, we've got to get better and we've got to get faster and this track is representative of a lot of the ones we'll be racing at this season that are going to make a difference."
Edwards opened the season with a ninth-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a 13th-place showing last weekend at California Speedway.
11:45 a.m. - Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the first of three days of on-track action leading up to the 13th running of the Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the 14th annual Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event.
The Nationwide Series drivers are on the track for their first practice and, 40 minutes into the session, Greg Biffle sits atop the speed chart with a fast lap of 179.313 mph.
The weather is pleasant with a temperature of 57 degrees under mostly sunny skies with little chance of rain predicted for this afternoon. Practice for the Shelby America is scheduled to begin at noon (PST) while qualifying will start at 3:40.
Check back here often throughout the day and the weekend, as we'll be updating this blog with news, stats and plenty of driver interviews.