5:25 p.m. – Kyle Busch paced the second practice session for NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers today with a lap of 178.094 mph. Busch was the only driver to post a lap in excess of 178 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (177.177) was second fastest, Mark Martin (176.927) was third, Carl Edwards (176.846) fourth and Denny Hamlin (176.742) fifth.
"I think we're pretty good," Busch said. "The Z-Line Designs Camry was fast when we unloaded here and we've only gotten a little bit better so I feel pretty good about it and I think we have some good chances for Saturday.
"We've been clicking off our fast laps with a lot of laps on our tires so maybe that's good. When you start out on a run, when you put tires and fuel on it, you're really, really loose so we've had to be a little bit cognizant of that today and try to make sure that we don't get outside of our comfort zone and screw something up."
A total of 34 cars were on the track for today's second practice session. The Nationwide Series will have its final two practices Friday morning from 9 to 10:15 and from 10:45 to 11:50 and will qualify Saturday beginning at 9:05 a.m. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars will practice Friday from noon to 1:30 and qualifying for the Kobalt Tools 400 will begin at 3:40 p.m.
4:30 p.m. – Mark Martin and Jeff Burton share the LVMS track record for Nationwide Series victories with three each. Martin won at LVMS in 1999, 2005 and 2008 while Burton won in 2000, 2002 and 2007. While Martin is entered in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300, Burton is not racing in the Nationwide Series event this weekend.
Last year’s Sam’s Town 300 winner, Kevin Harvick, also is entered in Saturday’s race, as is the inaugural race winner, Jeff Green (1997).
4:05 p.m. – Kyle Busch, who was second fastest in today’s opening practice session, was first on the speed chart midway through the afternoon practice for the Nationwide Series cars. Busch was the only driver to top 178 mph this afternoon, posting a fast lap of 178.094 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second fastest at 177.177 mph and Mark Martin was third at 176.927. Carl Edwards, fastest in the first practice, was fourth (176.846) and Denny Hamlin was fifth (176.742). The second practice runs until 5 p.m.
3 p.m. – Trevor Bayne, the reigning Daytona 500 champion, is looking forward to his visit to Las Vegas this weekend – and it has nothing to do with the high-rolling action on the Las Vegas Strip.
Bayne, who had a whirlwind week after winning The Great American Race, plans to catch up on his sleep this week and do some sightseeing. But because he turned 20 years old the day before the Daytona 500, Bayne won’t be spending any time at the gaming tables or slot machines.
“Obviously, I can’t go to a casino and I don’t even know that I would if I could, but they’ve got roller coasters in some of the hotels and water shows,” Bayne said. “I think they might have a mall with a toy store in it. I’m sure my team will pick on me about that.
“I’ll probably do what we do in every other city – kind of soak it in and walk around a little bit. I’ve never been a Vegas, flashy kind of guy anyways (but) I’m pumped to go there. I love the track. We finished sixth last year in Nationwide and it’s a really fun track, so I’m looking forward to that most of all.”
In addition to racing in the Kobalt Tools 400 Sprint Cup race on Sunday in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, Bayne will pilot the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300.
2:20 p.m. – Carl Edwards turned the fastest lap during the first Nationwide Series practice session today, knocking Las Vegas native Kyle Busch from the top of the speed chart with just a few minutes remaining in the session. Edwards’ lap at 177.819 mph topped Busch’s lap of 177.299. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third fastest at 176.835 mph, Denny Hamlin was fourth at 176.039 and Trevor Bayne was fifth at 175.177.
“There’s going to be a lot of practice left and I’ve only run (11) laps so there’s a lot to see still,” Edwards said. “The track is great, though. It’s kind of aged a little bit, it’s got some good bumps in it and the surface is really nice. I really like it.”
A total of 29 cars made it onto the track for the first practice session. The Nationwide Series cars will be back on the track at 3 p.m. today for another two-hour practice.
12:10 p.m. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sat atop the speed chart midway through the first Nationwide Series practice session at LVMS. Stenhouse was the fastest driver of the 12 who had taken the track this morning with a best lap at 176.534 mph.
Trevor Bayne was second fastest at 175.097 mph and Reed Sorenson was third at 174.222 mph. Brian Scott (173.116) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (172.502) rounded out the top five. The first of two practice sessions today wraps up at 1 p.m.
11:40 a.m. – Among the 42 expected entries for Saturday's Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race is Shelby Howard, whose No. 70 Chevrolet Impala will feature local sponsorship.
Veteran off-road racer Kenny Freeman, a Henderson, Nev. resident, chose Howard's car to showcase his new business venture, Race Fuel Energy Drink. The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino logos also will adorn the car.
"NASCAR is the way to go as far as auto racing advertising is concerned now," Freeman said. "The drivers are on national television and that provides incredible exposure. Shelby has raced in Vegas before and he has respectable performances. His team was very receptive and offered us the hood and the TV panel for a very good price. They have bent over backwards for me with this deal and I'm excited to be sponsoring their team."
Howard, who has made 51 career Nationwide Series starts and is looking for his first victory, is optimistic that he can be competitive in Saturday's race.
"We've got a really good car for Las Vegas that we took to Orlando to test last month," Howard said. "That car showed a lot of speed and handled really well. I'm looking forward to running at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and especially excited to have the Race Fuel Energy Drink and Stratosphere Hotel and Casino logos on the car."
The Stratosphere also is sponsoring Friday's Pole Day at LVMS.
10:45 a.m. – Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the first of four days of on-track action leading up to the 14th running of the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the 15th annual Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event. The Nationwide Series drivers will be on the track beginning at 11 a.m. for the first of two practice sessions today.
Today's two Nationwide Series practice sessions (11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) are open to the public, free of charge. An autograph session featuring 12 drivers, including Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and NASCAR veteran Mark Martin, will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 in the Neon Garage and is open to the public.
Check back here throughout the weekend, as we'll be updating this blog with news, stats and driver interviews.