6:40 p.m. – Good night from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Saturday’s track schedule includes NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying at 9:05 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup final practice at 10:10 a.m. and the Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series race at noon.
Be sure to check back here Saturday and Sunday for news, results and driver interviews.
6:30 p.m. – Comments from Kyle Busch, who qualified fifth for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
“We’ve been a little behind the 8-ball so far this weekend with our Snickers Peanut Butter Squared Camry. It’s coming along. The guys made some really good adjustments there and the car drove a lot better. Hopefully we can carry some of those into tomorrow and get a good race practice and get after them on Sunday.”
(Does the track change as the sun goes down?) “It doesn’t tell you a whole lot. It tells you the guys that are going to be fast, for sure. The sun going down and making shade in turns one and two makes for a lot of grip; you can really pick up a lot of speed down there. Still, turns three and four are really slick. The sun’s shining down there and it always shines down there. It’s kind of like Charlotte – it’s the treacherous turns three and four.”
6:20 p.m. – Comments from Carl Edwards, who qualified third for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
“It is good that the first two rows are Fords. That is a testament to how hard our guys are working at the shop and Doug Yates and everyone with the FR9 engine, they have done an amazing job. We talked about it earlier that we wanted to see how we ran in this first 1.5-mile track that would be a little bit of a test for the rest of the season. So far it looks really good. I am excited running in race trim tomorrow and we will see how we run in race trim but this is great for us.”
(On how he sees Sunday’s race developing) “I don’t think you can predict what is going to happen. It is going to be a cutthroat, competitive race from start to finish. I’d like to sit here and say that it is going to be really great and everyone is going to be cordial to one another, but I have a feeling it is going to be a really tough race. I hope it goes well, but that is the state of the sport right now – people are driving with their hearts out and fighting for everything they got. That is what you are going to see on Sunday.”
6:15 p.m. – Comments from Marcos Ambrose, who qualified second for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
“It’s just a great day for us. My Stanley team has been supporting me through a slow start, we had a crash at Daytona and we had a 16th place at Phoenix. Coming in here, I really wanted to step up and with the help of Ford we have an all-Ford front row. We’ve got a great bunch in Roush that help us get these cars dialed in like we do. I am thrilled for Richard Petty and thrilled for me and thrilled for Stanley. I took a chance and I really stuck my neck out to see if I had what it took. It’s just nice to be up here talking to you and hopefully it will be the same on Sunday.
“I have been second a few times now in my cup career in qualifying so I have been bumped out several times and it never feels any nicer. I am really pleased today. Matt (Kenseth) did a great lap and you can’t complain when someone beats you on speed. It isn’t like he lucked into it. He had the fastest car in practice and he delivered when it counted. No bad feelings today and I am just happy for Richard Petty Motorsports, who went through a lot at the end of last year. To be strong this early with A.J. (Allmendinger) running top three in points, it is just a good feeling over there and I’m looking forward to hopefully keeping this run going.”
6:05 p.m. – Comments from Matt Kenseth, who won the pole for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race:
“Five poles in 12 years – that’s a little better than I thought. It’s good to be on the pole and I look forward to the race on Sunday. We’ve worked pretty hard on race practice today and had a lot of speed. We need it to drive a little bit better but in qualifying trim, obviously, it had a lot of speed. This qualifying format is kind of nerve-wracking if you’re the fastest car in practice. It feels great to be on the pole. We don’t get them very often so it feels pretty cool to get one.
“I have to give Doug Yates’ engine shop a lot of credit. I think we had more power than we ever had last year. It started running better toward the end of last year. In Phoenix, we had awesome short-track engines. This weekend, to see all of the Fords up toward the top, they’ve got to be getting down the straightaway as well as through corners. He hasn’t told me that he’s had big gains but Doug seems like he’s been in a pretty good mood lately so I have a feeling that he thinks that we have big gains in the racecar and the speed is up.”
5:02 p.m. – Matt Kenseth captured the pole for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 with a track-record lap of 188.884 mph. Kenseth topped the previous track record of 188.719 mph, which was set last year by Kurt Busch. Marcos Ambrose (188.166) will start on the outside of the all-Ford front row. Carl Edwards (188.127), Greg Biffle (187.970) and Kyle Busch (187.565) rounded out the top five.
Stay tuned for comments from the top qualifiers.
4:10 p.m. – Kurt Busch, a Las Vegas native, has a score to settle with his younger brother Kyle.
Kyle became the first Busch brother to win a Sprint Cup race in their hometown when he captured the 2009 event and Kurt wants to add a hometown win to his racing resume.
“The fact that he’s won here, yeah it stings a little bit,” Kurt said of Kyle’s victory at LVMS. “I’ve been on pole here and he’s been on pole here. It’s Vegas; it’s one of the top five marquee events of the year that a lot of drivers would like to win. With (Kyle) winning here, it was great for our family and all of the friends that have supported us over the years. I just want to be able to do it as well.”
One of the Busch brothers has sat on the pole for the Las Vegas Sprint Cup race for three years running, with Kyle claiming it in 2008 and 2009 and Kurt capturing it last year.
1:40 p.m. – Matt Kenseth led a surge of Roush Fenway drivers in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice this afternoon, topping the speed chart with a lap at 186.599 mph. Teammates David Ragan (186.297) was second fastest, Carl Edwards (185.893) was fourth and Greg Biffle (185.675) was fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya was third fastest at 185.957.
Other drivers of note and their practice speeds: Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was 12th at 185.230; Kyle Busch was 17th at 184.679; Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 25th at 184.344; and Kurt Busch was 31st at 183.474.
Qualifying for the Kobalt Tools 400 will begin at 3:40 p.m.
1:20 p.m. – Needless to say, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is looking forward to Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Johnson, whose No. 48 Chevrolet is sponsored by Lowe’s and race sponsor Kobalt Tools, has won four of the past six Cup races at LVMS – including three in a row from 2005 to 2007.
“This track is a lot of fun for us,” Johnson said. “Since they’ve resurfaced the track and built in the progressive banking I feel like the banking has opened up at least two lanes of racing. The rubber that the Nationwide cars are putting down and the fact that they had an open test, it will help that top line come in and I would expect us running at the wall in (turns) three and four and probably at the wall in one and two. When that happens, we have more opportunities to pass and the drivers really enjoy that.”
Despite his success in Las Vegas, Johnson said he isn’t always confident of his chances when he comes to the speedway.
“This race is so early on the schedule that each time we come here – coming in, looking at my notes and preparing for the race – there’s always been a lot of concern and a lot of new stuff that we’re trying. We’ve been able to sort things out and win here more than not. Something works well and we’re able to find our groove here.
“There was one year where just this little bend on the frontstretch had my car loose and we ran terrible. Outside of that, it’s been a great track for us. Last week, we got a lot of direction and made up a lot of ground. I’m optimistic, but at the same time we just don’t know because we haven’t had our new style stuff on a mile-and-a-half track yet.”
12:50 p.m. – Mark Martin jumped to the top of the speed chart in the final Nationwide Series practice today. Martin posted a lap at 178.542 mph on his final lap of the practice. Elliott Sadler was second fastest at 178.471, Reed Sorenson was third at 178.412, Kyle Busch (177.468) was fourth and Justin Allgaier (177.165) was fifth. Qualifying for the Sam’s Town 300 will begin at 9:05 a.m. Saturday.
11:55 a.m. – Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann will be featured in an upcoming television and digital advertising campaign for team sponsor TUMS. In one of the TV spots, Waltrip battles with an unruly rib in a continuation of TUMS’ popular and humorous “Your favorite foods fighting you?” television ads.
“Twenty-five years of racing cars and that’s what it’s come to,” Waltrip dead-panned after the video was played for the media. In another spot, Reutimann does battle with a human-sized hamburger.
11:25 a.m. – Carl Edwards paced the first NASCAR Nationwide Series practice this morning with a fast lap of 179.104 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second fastest at 178.731 and Kyle Busch was third at 177.942. Mark Martin (177.784) and Brian Scott (177.456) rounded out the top five.
10:50 a.m. – Comments from Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, who stopped by the media center this morning to talk about the start to the season and racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he won the inaugural NASCAR Cup race in 1998:
“First of all, we've had good and not-so-good results in the first two races. Certainly at Daytona, we had a great car, but we got caught in a wreck, I think it was about lap 26 and got what I would call some pretty serious damage. Our team did an outstanding job of patching the car up and we managed to be very competitive and rebound with a great finish at Daytona. We were pleased with that. We were also caught up in a fairly early accident at Phoenix as well and got damage that would usually be a major setback and the guys did a good job with the quick repairs there that we could make. We were able to be more competitive than we would have expected based on the damage we had. So, we have two real respectable finishes where it could have been a disaster for us on both races.
“I am looking forward to this weekend. This is a really good racetrack for me. I love being here. I’m very excited about being here and anxious to get to work with my team.”
9:40 a.m. – Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where sunny skies and warm temperatures are on tap for Stratosphere Pole Day. The NASCAR Nationwide Series cars are on the track for their first of two practice sessions today. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars will hit the 1.5-mile oval for practice from noon to 1:30 (PST) and qualifying for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 will begin at 3:40.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sits atop the speed chart midway through the Nationwide Series practice with a fast lap of 178.648 mph – the best lap posted through two and a half practice sessions in advance of Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300.
Be sure to check back here throughout the weekend for news and driver interviews.