6:30 p.m. – Ron Hornaday won the pole for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and said he wasn’t the least bit shocked.
Tony Kanaan, on the other hand, said he was surprised that he claimed the pole for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships.
Both drivers agreed that their respective race this weekend will be no-holds-barred affairs.
“As good as this truck is handling, I can about put it anywhere,” Hornaday said. “There are three or four lanes out there and you’re going to see everybody use them tomorrow. It’s going to be probably the most exciting race we’ve had here in Las Vegas in a long time.”
Kanaan predicted much the same for the IndyCar Series season finale.
“I didn’t think I had a car to be on the pole, to be honest with you, but I knew I had a good race car so this is a little surprise for me as well but I’ll take it,” he said. “I think (the race) is going to be quite crazy but I think I have a strong car.”
The 146-lap Smith’s 350 will take the green flag Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and the 200-lap IZOD IndyCar World Championships will begin at 12:45 p.m. Sunday.
Be sure to check back here often for results, news and driver interviews following both races.
6:10 p.m. – Comments from Ron Hornaday, who won the pole for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
“The truck has been flawless since we unloaded. This is such an honor to drive the No. 2 truck for (Kevin Harvick Inc.) with Champion on board. It’s been pretty cool. This thing has been a lot of fun to drive. The lap, I guess the weather cooled down just enough for us. Goodyear brought a tire that has got a lot of grip and we found the air pressure that we needed in practice. It’s going to be a good race tomorrow.”
(You’ve never won at LVMS; do you have the truck to win on Saturday?) “I really feel it now but the way this racing goes any more, anybody in the top 15 can win this thing, it’s so close. With these young kids, I don’t know how to race them yet so hopefully we can just stay out front. The key is the pit stops – getting in and out of the pits good and try to get out in front of these guys. Clean air is also going to be the key thing tomorrow.
“We’ve got the truck driving so well over the bumps and everything. As good as this truck is handling, I can about put it anywhere. There are three or four lanes out there and you’re going to see everybody use them tomorrow. It’s going to be probably the most exciting race we’ve had here in Las Vegas in a long time.”
6:05 p.m. – Comments from Austin Dillon, who qualified second for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
“The qualifying lap was great. It felt like it was perfect. The only thing it lacked was I hit a little bit in turns 1 and 2 on the bumps … that’s the only place I can figure out where we lost some speed. Other than that, it was wide open here in qualifying. It’s fun out here. I love Las Vegas so I can’t wait for tomorrow. The sun will be out and it’ll be a little tougher than the night race because you won’t have the grip that you gain during the night. I think we set up our truck well for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the race.”
5:55 p.m. – Comments from Parker Kligerman, who qualified third for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
“Lap-wise, it was pretty easy. This qualifying for us, with a lot of grip that’s out there, is very easy to go flat out when your truck is set up right. For us, it was kind of minimizing the amount of track we use in terms of trying to make the track the shortest distance possible. Myself, there’s not a lot I can do – it’s a lot on the team and getting the setup as close as we can to go fast in qualifying. Overall, it was a pretty solid lap. I’m, pretty happy with third – that’s tying our best qualifying of the year.
5:30 p.m. – Ron Hornaday, the winningest driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, knocked defending race winner and series points leader Austin Dillon off the pole for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 truck race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hornaday’s lap at 176.056 mph pushed Dillon (175.793) to the outside of the front row. Parker Kligerman will start third and Johnny Sauter fourth. James Buescher, who trails Dillon by three points in the standings, will start sixth. Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan will start 21st.
Stay tuned for comments from the top qualifiers.
5:17 p.m. – Comments from Oriol Servia, who will start on the outside of the front row in Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships:
“Qualifying was amazing. Front row is the best place to start for the race as crazy as this one is going to be. I’m happy – very happy – with our position and I think we have a great chance for Sunday. It usually was a Ganassi or a Penske pole position for the mile-and-a-half (tracks) because they were the ones spending the most money in the wind tunnel, to be honest, and it pays off in places like this where it’s all about the little details. But, eventually, when you have the same car for all those years, either we all learn or the word goes around … so it’s harder for the teams with the bigger budget to keep their advantage after 10 years with the same car. I just think finally we have caught up.”
(Are you expecting three-wide racing on Sunday?) “No, I expect four-wide – and I’m not joking. I think there’s going to be a lot of four-wide action. And it’s not just going to be one row like that – it’s going to many, many rows two and three wide. I expect it to be really hairy and dangerous and, in a way, exciting for the fans. Hopefully, everybody will be safe at the end and have a clean, safe race.”
5:06 p.m. – Comments from Tony Kanaan, who won the pole for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships:
(Talk about your pole-winning lap) “Well, I didn’t do nothing – I just kept it full throttle and turned left four times and that was it. The car was good from the get-go. Obviously, on this type of track, you’re relying a lot more on your engineer than actually on yourself. When it comes to Sunday, that’s when we come to play. I didn’t think I had a car to be on the pole, to be honest with you, but I knew I had a good race car so this is a little surprise for me as well but I’ll take it.”
(Is your car strong enough to go out front and hide from the pack?) “I don’t think anybody’s going to hide from the pack but it’s plenty good that we can manage the advantage and just stay with the leaders and stay out of trouble. I think (the race) is going to be quite crazy but I think I have a strong car.”
4:28 p.m. – Tony Kanaan, the second-to-last IndyCar Series driver to qualify Friday afternoon, grabbed the pole from Oriol Servia with a two-lap qualifying effort of 222.078 mph. Servia (222.041) will start on the outside of the front row for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ed Carpenter (221.509 mph) and Alex Tagliani (221.330) will occupy the second row. Series points leader Dario Franchitti will start on the outside of row 9 and Will Power, who trails Franchitti by 18 points going into the season finale, will start on the inside of the same row.
Danica Patrick, who will be starting her final race as a full-time driver in the series, will start on the inside of row 5.
Stay tuned for comments from the top qualifiers.
3:15 p.m. – Victor Carbone of Sam Schmidt Motorsports captured the pole for Sunday’s Firestone Indy Lights race with a two-lap average of 191.773 mph during today’s qualifying session. Stefan Wilson of Andretti Autosport will start on the outside of the front row after posting a to-lap average 191.734. Esteban Guerrieri (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) and Rusty Mitchell (Team E) will start third and fourth, respectively.
2:45 p.m. – Tony Kanaan topped the speed chart for Group Two this afternoon with a fast lap of 224.196 mph. Oriol Servia was second at 223.974 and Scott Dixon was third at 223.738.
Qualifying for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships will start at 3 p.m.
2:35 p.m. – Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell and IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard announced today that the IndyCar World Championships would return to LVMS in 2012.
“Randy Bernard has done a phenomenal job with the IndyCar Series and I think he has breathed a tremendous breath of fresh air into the series,” Powell said. “We think our city is a great host for all major motorsports events and certainly our speedway enjoys having the IndyCar Series here.”
Bernard said Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the ideal venue for the IndyCar season finale.
“We think that Las Vegas is the perfect place for the culmination of the IZOD IndyCar Series,” Bernard said. “The (2011) race hasn’t happened yet but we’ve been able to create a lot of excitement and a lot of buzz. We think the off-track entertainment as well as the competition (on the track) is fantastic.”
The 2012 race weekend will be held Oct. 12-14 and again will include the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Powell said.
Bernard said he expected the remainder of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule to be announced within next two weeks.
1:50 p.m. – Ryan Hunter-Reay led today’s IndyCar Series practice session for Group One with a fast lap of 223.932 mph. Mike Conway (222.727) was second fastest and Alex Tagliani (222.708) was third. Danica Patrick, who led practice yesterday with a lap of 224.719, was ninth fastest at 221.802.
Group Two is on the track now and IndyCar Series qualifying is set to begin at 3 p.m.
1:20 p.m. – Chevrolet, which will be rejoining the IZOD IndyCar Series as an engine supplier in 2012, gave an update today on the progress of the engine’s development. Three teams – Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Panther Racing – already have signed on to run with Chevy power in 2012 and Penske’s Will Power tested last week with the new turbocharged V6 engine.
“It was awesome driving out of that pit, feeling a turbo engine – I haven’t felt that for a few years,” Power said. That was really cool. The test went flawlessly as far as the engine went. We did 190 laps (and) it already shows the job that Ilmore and GM have done with the first time on the track and no reliability problems.
“It was a successful test … and I’m proud to be a part of this. It’s pretty cool to be able to develop an engine and a new car with GM and Ilmore. I think it’s going to be a great year next year to have turbos back in the series.”
1:05 p.m. – Brendan Gaughan has eight career victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series but he said none tops the win in front of 70,000 fans at his hometown track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in September 2003.
“The night in 2003 was one of the greatest memories of my entire life,” Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, said. “Having a son born has got to be the top of it, but that (race) was the most unbelievable night of my life, seeing everybody in the stands with the Orleans (Racing) shirts and hats. I felt like Dale Earnhardt Jr. up there. I got the pole that night and won the race.
“I’d give just about anything in life to be able to get back to that and do it in Vegas. This is now one of our best-attended races of the year.”
Although he still loves the 1.5-mive LVMS oval, Gaughan said he was less than thrilled when track owner Bruton Smith reconfigured the racing surface by adding progressive banking in 2006.
“The progressive banking really kind of makes me mad because it puts everybody into my groove,” Gaughan said. “Everybody used to always just be pinned on the bottom and I’d be outside. Now, it’s moved everybody up a little bit. The bumps have made the track really where you can’t just find that groove and run; you have to work your way around where your truck is going to work the best through the bumps. If you can get your truck to work through the bumps, you’re better up in the top to the middle. It’s made for some strategy differences.”
12:40 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series rookie James Jakes walked away from a crash that destroyed his car early in today’s practice session. It appeared as if something failed in the rear suspension of Jakes’ car and it slid up the track and into the outside wall between turns 1 and 2. Jakes was able to walk away from the car, which suffered heavy contact and fire damage.
12:28 p.m. – Johnny Sauter led the second and final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice today with a fast lap of 176.448 mph. Austin Dillon was second fastest at 175.695 and Ron Hornaday was third at 175.473. Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan improved from the morning practice to 15th fastest at 173.661 mph.
The trucks will return to the track at 4:30 p.m. for qualifying.
10:40 a.m. – Rusty Mitchell (Team E) posted the fastest lap during this morning’s final practice for the Firestone Indy Lights series. Mitchell topped the speed chart with a lap of 194.856 mph. Duarte Ferreira (Bryan Herta Autosport) was second fastest at 194.499 mph and Victor Carbone of Sam Schmidt Motorsports was third at 194.424 mph.
Qualifying for the 67-lap Indy Lights Series race, which will begin at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, will be at 2:15 today.
10:25 a.m. – There is just one thing missing from Ron Hornaday’s impressive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resume. Hornaday, the most successful driver in Truck Series history with 50 career victories, four series championships and nearly $9 million in earnings, still is looking for win No. 1 on one of his favorite tracks – Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Despite making 10 starts here and winning a pole here, Hornaday has yet to pull his truck into Victory Lane in Las Vegas. The 53-year-old from Palmdale, Calif., is hoping to change that Saturday afternoon in the Smith’s 350. And he plans to take a page from Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan’s playbook in an attempt to do it.
“We won a championship here…but it takes a lot to win a truck race,” Hornaday said. “It takes your ‘A’ game, you’ve got to bring the right people and you’ve got to run Brendan’s line here – all the way up against the fence. We realize this is Brendan’s home track and he used to sneak out here and run when their shop was right across the street for many years.
“You’re running your butt off and here’s Brendan up on the high side so I’ve got to learn that high side because it’s definitely going to be slippery. The track has got some age on it and that’s what so great about this track; it’s just a lot of run to race at and I don’t have a win here so I guess it’s my turn. I’m looking forward to it – I always have fun here. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can get our 51st win.”
9:42 a.m. – Matt Crafton and Ron Hornaday led the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice this morning with identical speeds of 176.154 mph. Austin Dillon, the defending Smith’s 350 race winner and series points leader, was third fastest at 175.776. Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan, who won the 2003 truck race at LVMS, was 19th fastest at 172.254 mph.
Final practice for the trucks will be from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and qualifying is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
8:45 a.m. – Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the second day of on-track activity for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Smith’s 350 and IZOD IndyCar World Championships Presented by Honda. It’s sunny and 60 degrees and the forecast calls for a high temperature of 90 degrees and abundant sunshine.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers are on the track for the first of two practice sessions today. The trucks will qualify for Saturday’s Smith’s 350 at 4:30 this afternoon; the Firestone Indy Lights Series will qualify at 2:15 p.m. and the IZOD IndyCar Series will qualify at 3 p.m.
Be sure to check back here throughout the day, as we’ll be updating this blog with news, stats and driver interviews.