7:25 p.m. – Comments from Top Fuel driver Del Worsham, who earned his 32nd career victory and seventh of the season Sunday at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
“Like Reading (two races ago), I’m out there running the fastest car again and the best team … so I didn’t want to let anybody down. (Spencer Massey) got me a little bit out of the gate there – I will never deny that he is very good. All the Top Fuel guys have really taught me something here about competition and having to dig deep. It was so close down there (in the final). You can’t see the other guy but when someone stares at you, when someone’s next to you and you know they’re there, that’s what it felt like. I just knew (Massey) was lurking. And he told me he never saw me, either. When my big ol’ win light flashed up down there, I was pretty proud.”
(Talk about the battle for the championship. You’re two points behind Massey with one race to go) “This is 21 years in building here. My whole career here, as far as drag racing goes, has come down, basically, to one race right now and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got some confidence built up now and I’ve had a lot of success through the years but I’ve never personally been at this level and for (team owner) Sheik Khalid to give me this opportunity and for (team manager) Alan Johnson and (crew chief) Brian Husen to build this kind of car with this team, I’m a lucky guy. Coming off a win and going in (to the final race) with momentum is probably the biggest advantage I have right now.”
(Do you feel like you’ve got the car to beat in the season finale?) “I feel like I’m in the car to beat every day. I believe the car is going to be there, it’s going to run well and it’s going to come down to – mark my words – the final round and the two cars in the final; whoever wins is going to be the Top Fuel world champion.”
7:05 p.m. – Comments from Funny Car driver Ron Capps, who earned his second win of the season and the 33rd of his career Sunday at the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
“It’s so gratifying for the guys and Tim Richards, my crew chief. I go up there every time, literally, to make him proud when I drive. It’s a tough car to drive and keep in the groove – I’m not going to lie to you.
I’ve really have to dig down and I haven’t had this much of a challenge in a long time to drive a car and keep it in the groove. It’s a lot of fun to drive but it’s a challenge. It’s going to be fun to go to Pomona because Tim now has got enough data that if we see the (right) conditions, he can throw down and go for a record and go for a backup; he’s got that kind of mentality. But when it’s hot out and we need it, he can slide that thing down there.
“A 4.10 in the final – I couldn’t even believe it. I was in the trunk again like I was the other night (in qualifying) and I couldn’t believe the car was staying hooked up. It was nice to see that little win light on the guardrail. That second-round matchup with (Jack) Beckman was emotionally draining. They’re fighting for (the championship) and we’re fighting just to show off in front of our sponsors and get back into it. You hate to take a guy out like that but you really have to commend (team owner) Don Schumacher … he makes sure we race straight up and you saw that again today. To have seven cars like he does and to go up there, no matter what the points are, no matter who is fighting, and to let it all hang out and have no (team) orders, I commend him for that.”
6:50 p.m. – Comments from Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards, who earned his 32nd career victory and the fourth of the season Sunday at the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
“To win the race, to come out here and run really well, to qualify number one and today to put four rounds together – we’ve been struggling to do that for the past six or seven races, for sure.
It feels good to come out and finally win a race. I want to say congratulations to Jason Line (for winning the championship). They did a fantastic job, the whole team.
“We seem to run well at altitude tracks. We won Denver this year and then we came here and ran really, really well the (spring) race this year. It seems like when it’s hot out, we run better for some reason. We just need to figure out the rest of the conditions so maybe we can run a little bit better. It’s fun to come here and race. There’s so much to do here and I really, really, really enjoy coming here and we’ve had some success here, that’s for sure.”
6:40 p.m. – Comments from Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec, who earned his 11th career victory and the fourth of the season Sunday at the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
“The most important thing here was consistency – rounds wins, round wins, round wins and I’ve been saying that all year. I’ve been leading the points pretty much the whole year and I definitely didn’t want to give it up or come into the Countdown and fumble. I’ve just been trying to work on my riding and be consistent – that’s the one thing that shows.
“This (championship) race, by no means, is over yet. I mean, 69 points is definitely a three-round lead. Our Harley-Davidson got four win lights today and I couldn’t be any more excited. It definitely takes the weight off my shoulders going into Pomona but it’s still in the back of my head. I don’t look at it like I won the championship yet.”
5:30 p.m. – Final results from the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
Top Fuel: Del Worsham (3.823 at 318.77) def. Spencer Massey (3.834 at 323.74).
Funny Car: Ron Capps (4.109 at 311.34) def. Johnny Gray (4.203 at 295.08).
Pro Stock: Mike Edwards (6.641 at 208.30) def. Allen Johnson (6.668 at 208.01).
Pro Stock Motorcycle: Eddie Krawiec (6.936 at 194.30) def. Andrew Hines (6.995 at 192.96).
Check back shortly for comments from the winning racers.
4:35 p.m. – Jason Line committed a red-light foul in his semifinal matchup with Allen Johnson but still clinched his second NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championship in Pro Stock when his closest pursuer, teammate Greg Anderson, lost to Mike Edwards in the other semifinal.
“It feels unbelievable,” Line said. “It’s a great day. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t have finished it in true championship style but it is what it is and I’m not giving the (championship) jacket back or the trophy.”
The Pro Stock championship was the sixth for team owner Ken Black, a Las Vegas businessman. Line said it was important for him to clinch the title in Black’s hometown, with his team owner looking on.
“It’s more important to clinch here in front of (Black’s) whole family,” Line said. “It’s a big deal because without them and Summit, this doesn’t happen and we’re not out here racing so we owe everything to them. I personally feel very indebted to them for everything they’ve done for me.”
Line won his first Pro Stock championship in 2006. Anderson has won four world championships, including three in a row from 2003-2005.
4:10 p.m. – Semifinals results and final-round matchup in Pro Stock Motorcycle:
Semifinals: Andrew Hines (6.977 at 192.85) def. Angie Smith (7.053 at 189.47); Eddie Krawiec (6.989 at 193.45) def. Hank Arana Sr. (7.157 at 191.48).
Final: Hines vs. Krawiec.
4:05 p.m. – Semifinals results and final-round matchup in Pro Stock:
Semifinals: Allen Johnson (6.674 at 207.53) def. Jason Line (foul); Mike Edwards (6.663 at 208.17) def. Greg Anderson (6.646 at 207.78).
Final: Edwards vs. A. Johnson.
3:57 p.m. – Semifinals results and final-round matchup in Funny Car:
Semifinals: Ron Capps (4.125 at 309.20) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.196 at 304.05); Johnny Gray (4.123 at 311.56) def. Bob Tasca III (10.799 at 86.69).
Final: Capps vs. Gray.
3:51 p.m. – Semifinals results and final-round matchup in Top Fuel:
Spencer Massey (3.890 at 318.62) def. Brandon Bernstein (foul); Del Worsham def. Antron Brown (foul).
Final: Massey vs. Worsham.
2:46 p.m. – Second-round results and semifinals matchups in Pro Stock Motorcycle:
Eddie Krawiec def. LE Tonglet; Angie Smith def. Hank Arana Jr.; Hank Arana Sr. def. Jerry Savoie; Andrew Hines def. Jim Underdahl.
Semifinals: A. Smith vs. Hines; Krawiec vs. Arana Sr.
2:38 p.m. – Second-round results and semifinals matchups in Pro Stock:
Allen Johnson def. Larry Morgan; Greg Anderson def. Kurt Johnson; Jason Line def. Ron Krisher; Mike Edwards def. Ronnie Humphrey.
Semifinals: Edwards vs. Anderson; Line vs. A. Johnson.
2:28 p.m. – Second-round results and semifinals matchups in Funny Car:
Johnny Gray def. Paul Lee; Ron Capps def. Jack Beckman; Cruz Pedregon def. Matt Hagan; Bob Tasca III def. Tony Pedregon.
Semifinals: Capps vs. C. Pedregon; Gray vs. Tasca III.
2:10 p.m. – Second-round results and semifinals matchups in Top Fuel:
Del Worsham def. David Grubnic; Brandon Bernstein def. Larry Dixon; Antron Brown def. Bob Vandergriff; Spencer Massey def. Rod Fuller.
Semifinals: Worsham vs. Brown; Massey vs. Bernstein.
12:53 p.m. – First-round results and second-round matchups in Pro Stock:
Ronnie Humphrey def. Erica Enders; Ron Krisher def. Shane Gray; Larry Morgan def. Vincent Nobile; Greg Anderson def. Steve Kent; Kurt Johnson def. Rodger Brogdon; Mike Edwards def. Mark Wolfe; Jason Line def. V. Gaines; Allen Johnson def. Greg Stanfield.
Second round: Edwards vs. Humphrey; K. Johnson vs. Anderson; Line vs. Krisher; A. Johnson vs. Morgan.
12:30 p.m. – First-round results and second-round matchups in Funny Car:
Johnny Gray def. Melanie Troxel; Tony Pedregon def. Robert Hight; Ron Capps def. Todd Lesenko; Paul Lee def. Mike Neff; Cruz Pedregon def. Jeff Arend; Matt Hagan def. Tim Wilkerson; Bob Tasca III def. Alexis DeJoria; Jack Beckman def. John Force.
Second round: Capps vs. Beckman; C. Pedregon vs. Hagan; Lee vs. Gray; T. Pedregon vs. Tasca III.
11:58 a.m. – Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller, who won the Top Fuel category at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the fall of 2007, earned an opening-round victory over Doug Kalitta on Sunday with a 3.849-second pass at 325.53 mph – the fastest run of the first round.
“It’s always good to be home,” Fuller said. “This is my place. This is my track and I think all those fans in the stands today are going to get to see some great drag racing. I’m excited about this next round. I think that we have a great shot of beating Spencer (Massey).”
11:35 a.m. – First-round results and second-round matchups in Top Fuel:
David Grubnic def. Steve Torrence; Larry Dixon def. T.J. Zizzo; Antron Brown def. Tony Schumacher; Bob Vandergriff def. Clay Millican; Del Worsham def. Shawn Langdon; Spencer Massey def. Ron August Jr.; Brandon Bernstein def. Dominick Lagana; Rod Fuller def. Doug Kalitta.
Second round: Worsham vs. Grubnic; Vandergriff vs. Brown; Massey vs. Fuller; Bernstein vs. Dixon.
9:40 a.m. – Here are the first-round pairings for today’s professional eliminations:
TOP FUEL: 1. Del Worsham vs. 16. Shawn Langdon; 2. Spencer Massey vs. 15. Ron August; 3. Brandon Bernstein vs. 14. Dom Lagana; 4. Bob Vandergriff vs. 13. Clay Millican; 5. Antron Brown vs. 12. Tony Schumacher; 6. Larry Dixon vs. 11. T.J. Zizzo; 7. Rod Fuller vs. 10. Doug Kalitta; 8. Steve Torrence vs. 9. David Grubnic.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps vs. 16. Todd Lesenko; 2. Mike Neff vs. 15. Paul Lee; 3. Robert Hight vs. 14. Tony Pedregon; 4. Cruz Pedregon vs. 13. Jeff Arend; 5. Matt Hagan vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Bob Tasca III vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria; 7. Melanie Troxel vs. 10. Johnny Gray; 8. Jack Beckman vs. 9. John Force.
PRO STOCK: 1. Mike Edwards vs. 16. Mark Wolfe; 2. Jason Line vs. 15. V. Gaines; 3. Allen Johnson vs. 14. Greg Stanfield; 4. Rodger Brogdon vs. 13. Kurt Johnson; 5. Greg Anderson vs. 12. Steve Kent; 6. Larry Morgan vs. 11. Vincent Nobile; 7. Ron Krisher vs. 10. Shane Gray; 8. Ronnie Humphrey vs. 9. Erica Enders.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Hector Arana Jr. vs. 16. Matt Guidera; 2. Eddie Krawiec vs. 15. David Hope; 3. Hector Arana Sr. vs. 14. Shawn Gann; 4. Andrew Hines vs. 13. Bailey Whitaker; 5. Matt Smith vs. 12. Jim Underdahl; 6. Jerry Savoie vs. 11. Michael Ray; 7. Steve Johnson vs. 10. LE Tonglet; 8. Mike Berry vs. 9. Angie Smith.
9:20 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and final eliminations for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals. Fans are in for a spectacular fall day as the forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 81 degrees.
Pre-race ceremonies for the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. (PDT) and pro eliminations will begin at 11 a.m.
Make sure to check back here throughout the day for the latest news, results and driver interviews.
7 p.m. – Racing resumes at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 a.m. Sunday with Sportsman eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals begin at 10 a.m. and final eliminations in the four pro categories start at 11 a.m.
Good evening from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check back here Sunday for updates throughout the day.
6:50 p.m. – Comments from Ron Capps, the top qualifier in Funny Car:
(How does this feel after not qualifying for the most recent race?) “Zero to hero? It’s pretty cool. I’m so proud of Tim (Richards, crew chief) and the guys because, obviously, we didn’t qualify in Phoenix and then the guys packed up Saturday night and I went to the track on Sunday and had to stand around and do my business with NAPA and all of the people.
It had been four years since I didn’t qualify so it was tough. The dedication for the NAPA guys to pack up, come here and spend (last Monday) testing a brand-new car when they could have gone home … that was what they needed; that was the spark the guys needed.”
(How aggravated were you after Phoenix?) “I wasn’t aggravated … yeah, maybe a little bit. You’re like, OK, this could have happened at any point in the season but now? It’s got to happen now, in the Countdown? It just seems like sometimes we can’t catch a break. You don’t want to cry about not winning a championship and the different ways that we’ve not won it and come close, but it’s just making us earn it. It’s making us work for it.”
(After four years, do you just expect to qualify?) “That streak kept going on and on and you hear the announcers talking about it. You’re like, ‘Gosh, four years, that just doesn’t seem right.’ And you take it for granted. I’m always bragging to the NASCAR guys that in our sport, John Force has won 15 championships but he still has to qualify for Sunday. We don’t have provisionals like these NASCAR guys and it’s not a given that we’re going to be there. It sucks that that rule is there, sometimes, when you have a big sponsor, for that very reason. We had 180 people show up (in Phoenix) from NAPA and I wasn’t there racing. But I think it’s the coolest part of our sport – that you’ve got to earn it every time, I don’t care who you are. That’s the part that reminds you … that you can’t take it for granted.”
6:38 p.m. – Comments from Del Worsham, the top qualifier in Top Fuel:
“It feels amazing. We were on a great run last night and kind of let one get away.
When it cooled down today and Alan (Johnson, team manager) walked in the trailer and said to Brian (Husen, crew chief) and myself, ‘How about if we just go 3.80 and take the one spot.’ I said, ‘Sounds good to me if you can do it.’ He lied – we went 3.79. But what a great run. The car went straight, it’s been running great all weekend and it’s a brand-new chassis this weekend. For the record, I’m not driving (Larry) Dixon’s car and it’s still running well.”
(How do you feel about tomorrow?) “We’re trying to make up these little points and there are 20 points around. It’s pretty big; we need to maintain that through Pomona now so that … if you’re 41 points out and you win two rounds more than the other guy, he still wins by one. But if you’re 39 points out and you win two rounds, you’re number one by one point. These little points are going to be very, very important here as the last two races shake down. We did all we could do this weekend, I believe. I thought we did very well in qualifying and now we’ve just got to race well tomorrow.”
(On losing the points lead four races ago) “We’ve run pretty well, we just haven’t won and when you don’t win, people think that you can’t. We’ve won a lot of races this year and the competition is tough. We’ve made some mistakes and I’ve made some mistakes and we just haven’t run as good as what everybody’s seen. Alan made the call to come into this race with a brand-new car and I believe in him 100 percent and he’s shown me, at least to this point, that that’s the right call.”
6:27 p.m. – Comments from Mike Edwards, the top qualifier in Pro Stock:
“It just feels to make a good run and we just did it at the right time.
The conditions were definitely the best all weekend this morning. We just made an outstanding run, really. It’s the fastest corrected run we’ve ever made so I’m pretty happy about that. Tomorrow is another day but the track has really been good all weekend for us. For where we came from the last race, it’s tremendously better.
“I feel good about the track tomorrow. The sun’s going to be a little bit hotter tomorrow and we’re going to be challenged by the track conditions but we’re like that every race we go to. Hopefully, tomorrow, we can make the right adjustments and go some rounds. We’ll try to go back to what we did this morning and adjust from there.”
5:59 p.m. – Comments from Hector Arana Jr., the top qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle:
(On taking the pole from his father) “I tell you what, he didn’t make it easy;
I had to take it from, he didn’t let me have it. It’s just a dream come true to come out here and race in NHRA. It’s a tough class – any of the racing divisions over here are tough. Everybody’s on their top game so in order to be good, you have to be 100 percent. We’re just having fun out here.”
(On the pressure of the championship race) “It feels good to know that I’m riding a consistent Lucas Oil Buell. This bike is amazing. It’s proved it numerous times that it goes right down the track and it repeats itself so it’s not just a one-hit wonder; it’s consistent. It’s a really good feeling. I like being the predator. I feel like Eddie (Krawiec) probably feels like the prey right now because I’m coming after it. Right now, I feel like a lion, getting ready to take that championship.”
5:37 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Funny Car for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Ron Capps; 2. Mike Neff; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Bob Tasca III; 7. Melanie Troxel; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. John Force; 10. Johnny Gray; 11. Alexis DeJoria; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Jeff Arend; 14. Tony Pedregon; 15. Bob Bode; 16. Todd Lesenko.
4:45 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Top Fuel for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Del Worsham; 2. Spencer Massey; 3. Brandon Bernstein; 4. Bob Vandergriff; 5. Antron Brown; 6, Larry Dixon; 7. Rod Fuller; 8. Steve Torrence; 9. David Grubnic; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. TJ Zizzo; 12. Tony Schumacher; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Dominick Lagana; 15. Ron August Jr.; 16. Shawn Langdon.
3:44 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Mike Edwards; 2. Jason Line; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Larry Morgan; 7. Ron Krisher; 8. Ronnie Humphrey; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Shane Gray; 11. Vincent Nobile; 12. Steve Kent; 13. Kurt Johnson; 14. Greg Stanfield; 15. V Gaines; 16. Mark Wolfe.
3:18 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock Motorcycle for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Hector Arana Jr.; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Hector Arana Sr.; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Matt Smith; 6. Gerald Savoie; 7. Steve Johnson; 8. Mike Berry; 9. Angie Smith; 10. LE Tonglet; 11. Michael Ray; 12. Jim Underdahl; 13. Bailey Whitaker; 14. Shawn Green; 15. David Hope; 16. Matt Guidera.
3:05 p.m. – Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Joe DeSantis took a spill off his bike as it was nearing the finish line during his fourth-round qualifying run. According to NHRA, DeSantis, 69, was conscious and alert and talking to the medical crew. DeSantis was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
2:15 p.m. – It should come as no surprise that Alexis DeJoria is among the top five in the Funny Car field through three rounds of qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Although she is attempting to make only her third Funny Car race, DeJoria, 34, said she has been looking forward to this event for quite some time.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” DeJoria said of The Strip. “It’s a great facility, the fans are awesome and there’s always a big turnout. My family has a home in Vegas, so I consider that town my second home, which really makes a difference. Plus, my sponsor, Tequila Patron, is headquartered in Vegas, so I’m excited for the Patron team to come out to the track and see us competing in this new class.”
DeJoria, who is driving a car prepared by Kalitta Motorsports, is the daughter of John Paul DeJoria, the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and owner of Tequila Patron. She had a successful career in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category, where she co-owned and operated her team.
2 p.m. – Johnny Gray posted the quickest time (4.118) in the third round of Funny Car qualifying and moves up one spot to No. 4. Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Melanie Troxel hold the top three spots and Alexis DeJoria is fifth.
The final round of pro qualifying is scheduled to begin shortly.
1:19 p.m. – Just a reminder for fans who are thinking about attending Sunday’s final eliminations for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals: A very limited number of reserved seats remain for the event. Call the LVMS ticket office at 702-644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com/tickets/ .
1:08 p.m. – Brandon Bernstein retained the No. 1 qualifying position after three rounds of Top Fuel qualifying. Del Worsham set the low time of the session at 3.838 seconds at 321.81 mph and is No. 2. Spencer Massey posted a 3.849 at 321.42 and is third, former Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller jumped from 10th to fourth with a third-round pass of 3.854 at 325.85 and Steve Torrence is fifth.
11:58 a.m. – Mike Edwards laid down a blistering pass in the third round of Pro Stock qualifying and established track records for both low elapsed time and fast speed.
Edwards claimed the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot with a record pass of 6.594 second at 208.81 mph. Jason Line (6.624) is second quickest, Allen Johnson (6.630) moves up to third, Rodger Brogdon (6.632) is fourth and Greg Anderson, who did not make a third-round pass because of a mechanical failure, is fifth.
11:45 a.m. – Hector Arana Jr. turned in the quickest pass of the weekend in the third round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying and bumped his father, Hector Arana Sr., off the provisional pole he held after the second round of qualifying.
Arana Jr.’s track-record pass of 6.879 seconds at 194.46 mph came on the final run of the session and with his father in the lane beside him.
Eddie Krawiec holds the No. 2 spot with a third-round pass of 6.894 seconds at 196.56 mph. Hector Arana Sr. is third, Andrew Hines fourth and Gerald Savoie fifth.
10:55 a.m. – Antron Brown has a 20-point lead over Larry Dixon and a 25-point edge over Spencer Massey in the Top Fuel standings going into the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, but the six-time winner this season is not taking anything for granted as he pursues his first NHRA world championship.
“To be in the position we are, we are very blessed but there is still a lot of racing left,” Brown said. “There are two races … there are eight more rounds – plus the fact that you have to qualify because you have everybody and their momma coming out for these last few races trying to qualify and get in the show.
“We’re going to go out there and try to stay poised and give our best shot because right now it’s anybody’s race for this championship. We’re definitely going to put a good fight on for it.”
Brown, who drives for team owner Don Schumacher, said his Matco Tools team is not going to change the way it is approaching this weekend’s race or the season finale in Pomona.
“We’ve been an aggressive team throughout the season,” he said. “We go after it every race, never letting up on ourselves or the competition. Obviously, this approach has served us well and we think it’s the way to the best results. We’ve got the points lead, but we won’t go the rest of the way in a defensive mode. We’re going to play to win rather than play not to lose.”
10:25 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the second day of professional qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.
It’s sunny with an ambient temperature of 63 degrees and a slight breeze (2 mph) out of the south. The forecast calls for a high of 79 degrees. The track temperature is 84 degrees as the professional classes prepare for qualifying later this morning. The third round of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying is set to begin at 11 a.m. (PDT) and the Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters are slated to hit the track at 11:45 a.m. The fourth and final round of pro qualifying is slated to begin at 1:45 p.m. Be sure to check back here often as we’ll be updating this blog throughout the weekend with news, results and driver interviews.
7:15 p.m. – Good night from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Spectator gates will open Saturday morning at 7:30 and racing will resume at 8 a.m. with Sportsman eliminations. Professional qualifying sessions will be held at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.
Be sure to check back here throughout the weekend for continual updates from the third and fourth rounds of pro qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.
7:10 p.m. – Comments from Brandon Bernstein, the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel following the second round of qualifying:
“It felt great. The car really seemed like it didn’t move – it was really a straight run. At 321, with that kind of speed, you always know that it’s a great run when you run that kind of speed and the finish line comes so much quicker. We’ve been really trying to focus on making four good qualifying runs and just trying to get some round wins on Sunday. This is a good start for our team to get number one so far. That morning session tomorrow is going to be critical because you can be able to swing for the fences on that one, so hopefully it stands up.
“Coming into this race, we knew that there was no way we can win the championship but we’re one of those cars that can definitely run with these guys and hopefully we come out on Sunday and do some damage. I don’t like the word spoiler; we’re just out here trying to win. We’re one of those teams right now that needs a win and that’s what we’re out here trying to get.”
7 p.m. – Comments from Robert Hight, the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car following the second round of qualifying:
“I think the conditions are going to be good tomorrow. We’re in Vegas and that’s why I never gamble because I would have bet anything that we wouldn’t have been number one – especially being the first car out. The track cooled down a lot since we ran but (crew chief) Jimmy Prock just goes up there with a lot of confidence and he makes this Auto Club Ford thunder. We love racing here in Vegas – we won it earlier this year but this is exactly what we need to do to get back in the hunt.
“This track is going to come around and you’re going to see good conditions. I’ll be honest: I don’t believe that 4.08 is going to stick but looking at the data, we can probably run a little quicker but we need to do that four times on race day and that gives us a shot to get back in this (championship race).”
6:50 p.m. – Comments from Jason Line, the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock following the second round of qualifying:
“This is definitely a good way to start. We haven’t traditionally been strong the last few years here. The goal is to make a big rebound from Phoenix -- we kind of stunk up the joint there and we’re not going to do that two weeks in a row. We’re off to a good start. We were terrible here in the spring race and I tend to remember the bad races. We’re certainly not going to do anything differently than we have the rest of the year. We want to keep doing those things and finish it off.”
(What would it mean to clinch the championship here in Las Vegas, the hometown of team owner Ken Black?) “It would be a big deal. (Teammate Greg Anderson) tends to do a better job showing off than I do. He did it last year but I’d like to do it once, too, and maybe that can happen. We’ll see about that.”
6:35 p.m. – Comments from Hector Arana, the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle following the second round of qualifying:
“It feels good to me. We’ve been working hard and finally it seems like everything is lining up and going to my favor, my side.”
(On winning the provisional pole while his son, Hector Arana III, is in a battle with Ed Krawiec for the points championship) “Definitely, I’m playing defense. I know he has it, the power is there, but he’s struggling a little bit off the starting line. I told him, ‘I’m going to be right behind you – either you take first or I’m going to take it away from you.’ I know he wants it and we’ve seen a couple little mistakes and if he concentrates for tomorrow, he should have the number one (qualifying position).”
(On racing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he could earn his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying spot in the fall event here) “This is one of my favorite tracks. It’s good, it’s smooth. Now that you say that it (could be) three years in a row, I definitely would like to keep the number one. It’s a pleasure to come here. The fans are awesome. They receive us very well so it makes us feel at home.”
6:20 p.m. – Brandon Bernstein took advantage of a cooler track early in the evening and grabbed the provisional pole in Top Fuel with a pass of 3.833 seconds at 321.27 mph during the second round of qualifying.
Spencer Massey was second quickest in the session at 3.856 at 319.67 and Steve Torrence improved to third at 3.856 at 317.49. Bob Vandergriff (3.858 at 321.88) is fourth and Antron Brown (3.863 at 318.54) fifth going into Saturday’s third round of qualifying.
Stay tuned for comments from the top qualifiers.
5:30 p.m. – Robert Hight grabbed the provisional pole in Funny Car with a 4.085-second pass on the first run of the second round of qualifying.
Matt Hagan (4.093 at 310.05) was second quickest and Melanie Troxel (4.103 at 310.20) was third. Alexis DeJoria, making only her third attempt at a race, was fourth with a 4.121-second pass at 305.15 and Johnny Gray (4.126 at 311.99) was fifth.
4:38 p.m. – Jason Line and Mike Edwards remained the top two qualifiers in Pro Stock following the second round of qualifying.
Greg Anderson, a seven-time winner in Las Vegas, moved up one spot to third with a 6.633-second pass at 208.14 mph. Ron Krisher is fourth and Ronnie Humphrey is fifth going into Saturday’s third round of qualifying.
4:10 p.m. – Hector Arana vaulted to the No. 1 qualifying spot with a 6.924-second pass at 190.86 mph in the second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
Andrew Hines turned in a 6.940-second pass at 191.84 mph and moved up two spots to No. 2. Eddie Krawiec slipped from first to third despite improving his speed (6.948 at 192.74) from the first round. Hector Arana III is fourth after two rounds of qualifying and Gerald Savoie is fifth.
3 p.m. – Fans attending the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend will have the opportunity to meet two of the legendary drivers of the NHRA: Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen.
Both Prudhomme and McEwen will be available throughout the weekend and will be participating in meet-and-greets and autograph sessions from 10-11 a.m. and 1:45-2:30 on Saturday and 12:30-1 p.m. on Sunday. Both drivers also will take part in the “Track Walk with a Legend” at 9:30 Sunday morning at The Strip.
In addition, both drivers’ cars and haulers from the 1970s will be displayed all weekend in the pits.
2:42 p.m. – Del Worsham was the top qualifier in the opening round of Top Fuel qualifying with a 3.879-second pass at 316.97 mph.
TJ Zizzo was second quickest at 3.899 at 310.13 mph and Tony Schumacher was third at 3.902 at 318.24. Larry Dixon (3.903 at 317.57) and Spencer Massey (3.903 at 316.01) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Antron Brown, who led Dixon by 20 points in the Top Fuel standings coming into Las Vegas, was the 12th qualifier at 3.941 (315.56 mph).
The second round of pro qualifying is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m.
1:55 p.m. – Matt Hagan is on the provisional pole after a 4.142-second pass at 301.40 mph in the first round of Funny Car qualifying.
Mike Neff (4.145 at 309.98) was second quickest and Alexis DeJoria (4.145 at 302.96) was third quickest. Jack Beckman (4.149 at 303.64) was fourth and Tim Wilkerson (4.154 at 286.86) fifth after one round of qualifying.
1:15 p.m. – Jason Line grabbed the provisional pole with a 6.624-second pass at 207.66 mph in the first round of Pro Stock qualifying. Mike Edwards was second quickest (6.627 at 208.33) and Ron Krisher was third quickest (6.638 at 208.33). Greg Anderson (6.650 at 207.94) and Ronnie Humphrey (6.650 at 206.76) rounded out the top five.
12:48 p.m. – Eddie Krawiec, a three-time winner this season and the Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader, holds the No. 1 qualifying position after the first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying with a pass of 6.952 seconds. Gerald Savoie is second quickest at 6.970 seconds and Hector Arana third at 6.980. Andrew Hines (6.996) and Hector Arana III (7.006) round out the top five after one round.
NHRA Weekend comes to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Check out all of the special events going on throughout the weekend.
Thursday, Oct. 27 - Speedway Children's Charities "Cards for Kids" Poker Tournament
The stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will kick off the eleventh annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by participating in the Speedway Children's Charities poker tournament at the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Drivers entered in the Speedway Children's Charities' seventh annual "Cards for Kids" Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament include: Brandon Bernstein, Jack Beckman and many more.
Thursday, Oct. 27 - Big O Tires NHRA Nationals Driver Autograph Session - Fremont Street Experience
Some of the biggest names in professional drag racing are expected to participate in a free autograph session and fan fest at Las Vegas' Fremont Street Experience on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 5-7 p.m.
Drivers scheduled to participate include: Del Worsham, Larry Dixon, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, David Grubnic, T.J. Zizzo, Terry McMillen, Dominick Lagana, Jack Beckman, Bob Tasca III, Jeff Arend, Tim Wilkerson, Melanie Troxel, Steve Torrence, Bob Bode, Alexis DeJoria, Johnny Gray, Allen Johnson, Jason Line, Greg Anderson, Erica Enders, Larry Morgan, Shane Gray, L.E. Tonglet, Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr., Karen Stoffer and Leah Pruitt.
NHRA announcer Bob Frey will interview the drivers during the session and fans will have the opportunity to win free race tickets. Johnny Gray’s Funny Car will be on display.
Thursday, Oct. 27 - Big O Tires NHRA Nationals Driver Autograph Session - New York New York Hotel and Casino
Some of the biggest names in professional drag racing are expected to participate in a free autograph session at New York New York Hotel and Casino on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 7-9 p.m.
All Don Schumacher Racing drivers will participate, including Tony Schumacher, Jack Beckman, Antron Brown, Ron Capps, Johnny Gray, Matt Hagan and Spencer Massey.
-Kids Trick-or-Treating, Friday, Oct. 28
Kids are invited to trick-or-treat for candy Friday at the race teams' haulers in the pits between the first and second Nitro Qualifying Sessions.
5:05 p.m. – Ron Hornaday raced himself into contention for a fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship by leading 107 of 146 laps and winning Saturday’s Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
On Sunday, the championship in the IndyCar Series WILL be decided when 34 cars take to the 1.5-mile oval for the IZOD IndyCar World Championships. Dario Franchitti holds an 18-point lead over Will Power in the battle for the IndyCar Series championship.
As if that weren’t enough excitement, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon will attempt to share a $5 million bonus with a lucky fan if he can win Sunday’s race from the back of the field.
Ticket gates open at 8 a.m. Sunday. The developmental Firestone Indy Lights Series will contest a 67-lap race at 9:45 a.m. and the IZOD IndyCar World Championships is scheduled to take the green flag at 12:45 p.m.
4:50 p.m. – Comments from Ron Hornaday, who won Saturday’s Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
“I know I stunk up the show for the fans but I wanted this win really, really bad. I finally won in Vegas. This is just a dream come true. You don’t get trucks like that very often and I’ve got it two races in a row so that’s pretty awesome. Kevin and Delana (Harvick, the truck owners), I owe them a lot. They give me a championship truck with the owner points and still believing in me. They put Bruce Cook (crew chief) with me and we go out and win another one. This is fun.
“Bruce made great calls all day. We went out there and those guys pitted and we stayed out a little bit and then we put gas in it. When we all came out, there were only a couple of trucks that could have gone to the end. I don’t know how he figures out pit strategy and all that stuff but it’s unbelievable.
“The only one who gave me a real fit was Timothy Peters. I thought he was going to be the guy to beat today. He ran with me for three, four laps on the bottom and he finally got a little loose. But it was fun. When you’ve got a truck like that, it’s fun.”
4:40 p.m. – Comments from Matt Crafton, who finished second in the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
“I think all of the races (at LVMS) should be during the day. That was, I think, was some of the best racing we’ve had here because the track was so hot and slick and you couldn’t just run around here wide open like we do a lot of times at night. You have to lift to make the truck do something and handle well. I think that’s huge.”
4:35 p.m. – Comments from Timothy Peters, who finished third in the Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
“I had a great GearWrench Tundra all day long. There towards the end, I was just trying to trick Hornaday and I got schooled. I spun my tires and when I did, Johnny (Sauter) was there and got into us a little bit. We brought it home third and I’m not going to complain one bit because the team has worked really hard … and everyone here made great adjustments. Everybody else, with the trouble that they had, it kind of puts us right back in the thick of things (in the points race).”
3:15 p.m. – Ron Hornaday held off a late challenge by Matt Crafton on Saturday and earned his second victory in a row and the 51st of his career in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hornaday, 53, led 107 of the 146 laps and notched his first victory in 11 starts in Las Vegas. Crafton was second, Timothy Peters was third, Johnny Sauter finished fourth and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.
Stay tuned for comments from the top finishers.
2:25 p.m. – The top 5 in the Smith’s 350 after 100 of 146 laps: 1. Ron Hornaday; 2. Timothy Peters; 3. Johnny Sauter; 4. Matt Crafton; 5. Nelson Piquet Jr.
1:56 p.m. – The top 5 in the Smith’s 350 after 50 of 146 laps: 1. Johnny Sauter; 2. Jason White; 3. Todd Bodine; 4. David Starr; 5. Joey Coulter.
Both Austin Dillon and James Buescher, the top two drivers in the series points standings, have had their trucks damaged due to contact and are running 26th and 23rd, respectively.
1:21 p.m. – NASCAR officials have displayed the red flag after a multi-truck crash in the first turn on lap 30. The incident involved Ricky Carmichael, Brian Ickler, Miguel Paludo and Ryan Sieg. Ron Hornaday continues to lead after 30 laps.
1:05 p.m. – Series points leader Austin Dillon crashed coming out of the fourth turn on the second lap and suffered damage to the right front of his truck. Dillon came into the Smith’s 350 with a 3-point lead over James Buescher and a 19-point edge over Johnny Sauter. Dillon is now running in 29th, five laps behind race leader Ron Hornaday.
12:50 p.m. – The field has taken the green flag for the 15th running of the Smith’s 350. Pole-sitter Ron Hornaday opted to start on the outside of the front row to take advantage of the track’s high line. One truck, the No. 66 of Max Gresham, started at the back of the field after an engine change.
11:15 a.m. – Some quick facts regarding today’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race...
10:55 a.m. – Buddy Rice’s qualifying run from Friday’s IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying session was disallowed after IndyCar officials determined Rice had driven below the white line on the bottom of the track – a violation of league rules – during his run. Rice, who had qualified 19th, will now start the race 33rd out of 34 drivers.
10 a.m. – Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the 15th running of the Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. It’s sunny and 66 degrees and the forecast calls for sunny skies and a high temperature of 88 degrees.
Driver introductions are scheduled to begin at noon and Ron Hornaday will lead the field of 34 trucks to the green flag at approximately 12:49 p.m. Hornaday, who is searching for his first Truck Series victory in 11 starts here, won the pole on Friday with a 176.056-mph lap.
There are four past Smith’s 350 winners in the field today: Austin Dillon (2010); Johnny Sauter (2009); Todd Bodine (2005); and Brendan Gaughan (2003). Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner are the only two-time winners of this race but neither is in the field today.
There will be no on-track activity today for the IZOD IndyCar Series, which will stage its season-ending IZOD IndyCar World Championships on Sunday, or the Firestone Indy Lights Series.
Be sure to check back here throughout the day, as we’ll be updating this blog with news, results and driver interviews.
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.
4:20 p.m. – The focus of attention was supposed to be on Dario Franchitti and Will Power and their battle for the IZOD IndyCar Series season championship but Danica Patrick stole the show Thursday by leading practice with an eye-popping 224.719 mph lap around the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s friggin’ fast here!” Patrick exclaimed as she prepared for her final start in the IndyCar Series as a full-time driver – Sunday’s 200-lap IZOD IndyCar World Championship Presented by Honda. “It’s going to be crazy out there Sunday.”
Fellow IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia, who was second fastest in practice, agreed.
“It’s so fast and you’re so close to each other, it’s exciting,” Servia said. “There’s really no room for error and it’s exciting and the fans here are going to have a great, great show.”
The field of 34 IndyCars will return to LVMS Friday and will be joined by the Firestone Indy Lights and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. A full schedule of on-track events includes practice and qualifying for all three series, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Ticket gates also open at 8:30 a.m.
Visit http://www.lvms.com/tickets/truck_indycar_weekend/ for a complete schedule of events for the weekend.
Good night from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check back here throughout the weekend for the latest results and driver interviews
4:06 p.m. – Gustavo Yacaman (Team Moore Racing) led the second practice session for the Firestone Indy Lights Series with a lap of 194.118 mph. Esteban Guerrieri (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) was second fastest at 193.665 mph and Stefan Wilson (Andretti Autosport) was third at 193.552.
3 p.m. – Ann Babenco of High Bridge, N.J., is the winner of the GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge sweepstakes and is in line to win $2.5 million should IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon win Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Babenco was chosen in a drawing to split the $5 million GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge payday with Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner, if he can win the race.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think I could (win) it,” Wheldon said of going for $5 million despite starting Sunday’s race from the back of the 34-car field. “But I’m not going to underestimate the talents of people like Will (Power) and Dario (Franchitti).
“This happened to be a track that suits my style – the one-and-a-half-mile tracks, I like a lot. I’ll be doing everything I can but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a strong 33 cars in front of me, there’s no doubt about it, but I feel that we have the ability to do it.”
Wheldon will be driving the No. 77 entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.
2:20 p.m. – Former racer Michael Shank announced today that he is expanding his racing operation to include a full-time IZOD IndyCar Series team in 2012 under the MSR Indy banner.
Shank said that he has taken on Columbus, Ohio, businessman Brian Bailey and NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger at principal partners. Allmendinger, who drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will not drive the MSR Indy entry, but Shank has not yet announced his driver for next season.
2:10 p.m. – Comments from Oriol Servia, who was second fastest (224.026 mph) in practice today for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships:
“It’s so fast and you’re so close to each other, it’s exciting. The fans are going to get a good show, I’ll tell you. It’s kind of crazy. It’s great that the track is smooth because at least you can be consistent trying to keep your car in line and follow the guy in front when you’re three wide. Because it’s smooth, it allows everybody to be really close and we’re talking three wide – and I’m sure some moments we’re going to be four wide – and it’s not just one row, it’s going to be like five rows three wide and five more rows three wide. There’s really no room for error and it’s exciting and the fans here are going to have a great, great show.”
2 p.m. – Comments from Danica Patrick, who set the top speed (224.719 mph) in practice today for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar World Championships:
“It’s friggin’ fast here! That was almost a 225(-mph) lap and that’s fast – and I’m not surprised. I got a big draft – I think any speeds up there are big drafts. I think even I’m surprised that I’m almost 225. The track is just nice and smooth and the cars go around here really quickly, we’re three-wide out there and it’s going to be exciting. The race is going to be crazy and the crashes will be spectacular.
“I think it’s sad that this is probably the first time I’ve been the quickest at any point (this season). I’d just like to finish this right and I’d like to finish it off on a good note and nothing would sort of let me turn the page to the next chapter better than winning here.”
1:20 p.m. – Danica Patrick remained atop the speed chart after an abbreviated Group Two practice session with a fast lap of 224.719 mph. Oriol Servia was second fastest and the only other driver to top 224 mph at 224.026. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third-fastest at 223.888 mph, Scott Dixon was fourth (223.689) and Mike Conway was fifth (223.558).
The drivers of the IndyCar Series are done for the day with practice but all 34 will head to the Strip this evening for a parade lap on the world-famous street beginning at 8 p.m.
The Firestone Indy Lights drivers will return to the 1.5-mile oval this afternoon at 3 for a one-hour practice session.
12:55 p.m. – Danica Patrick jumped to the top of the speed chart during IndyCar Series practice for Group Two with a lap at 224.719 mph. Patrick, driving the No. 7 GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport, will be making her final IndyCar Series start Sunday as a full-time driver in the series. Graham Rahal is second fastest (222.869) and Scott Dixon is third (222.770).
12:25 p.m. – Today’s first IndyCar Series practice session ended after a lengthy delay due to track cleanup because of oil on the track. Charlie Kimball (222.854), Ed Carpenter (222.375) and Simona De Silvestro (221.847) were the three fastest in the first session.
The 17 drivers taking part in Group Two are on the track for their practice session. Series points leader Dario Franchitti and second-place Will Power, who are battling for the series championship, are among the drivers in Group Two.
11:30 a.m. – Midway through the first practice session, Ed Carpenter still sits atop the speed chart but he increased his fastest lap to 222.375 mph. Wade Cunningham was second at 221.648 mph and Charlie Kimball was third at 221.172.
Dan Wheldon, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and the only driver eligible for the $5 million GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge, was fourth fastest at 221.051. Wheldon, who will start Sunday’s IndyCar World Championships from the back of the field, will split a $5 million prize with a fan if he can win Sunday’s race
11:10 a.m. – Ten minutes into today’s first IndyCar Series practice session, Ed Carpenter (Sarah Fisher Racing) has posted the fastest lap among the 17 cars in Group One with a lap at 220.335 mph. Wade Cunningham (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) also topped the 220-mph mark with a lap at 220.053. The two hour-long sessions split the 34-car field into groups of 17 cars.
The LVMS track record for Indy-style cars is 226.491 mph – set in 1996 by Arie Luyendyk. Luyendyk sat on the pole for the inaugural race at LVMS but hometown favorite Richie Hearn went on to win the race.
10:55 a.m. – Stefan Wilson of Andretti Autosport posted the fastest lap during this morning’s practice session for the Firestone Indy Lights series. Wilson topped the speed chart with a lap of 193.552 mph. Gustavo Yacaman (Team Moore Racing) was second fastest at 193.289 mph and Esteban Guerrieri of Sam Schmidt Motorsports was third at 192.971 mph.
The 67-lap Firestone Indy Lights Series race will take the green flag at 9:45 a.m. Sunday.
10:30 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick finished fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March – the best finish by a female driver in a NASCAR national series race. On Sunday, Patrick will conclude her career as a full-time IndyCar Series driver in the IndyCar World Championships and will turn her attention to running a full Nationwide Series schedule in 2012.
Patrick, who has one career IndyCar victory and a pair of top-five finishes in the Indianapolis 500 (third in 2009 and fourth in 2005), said she is looking forward to racing here again and is hoping her Nationwide experience at LVMS will help her in Sunday’s race.
“I think this is a great track and I think we’ll put on a really close race here this weekend,” Patrick said this morning. “Even in a stock car, there’s a lot of grip here so I’m sure that means we will be three and four wide, four and five rows deep for a lot of the race. I think it’s going to be exciting and I think it’s going to be a great way to finish the season off.
“Having that little bit of experience here in a stock car, I think, will help – it definitely can’t hurt. It’s nice to end it on an oval. I still believe that our most exciting races are put on at mile-and-a-half (tracks) and we always have our closest finishes and our most side-by-side racing and our most spectacular crashes on them.
“To end (my IndyCar career) at a cool place like Vegas, as well, and also having that little bit of experience and history of being the highest-finishing female in NASCAR here earlier this year is a nice little come-around story. I’m looking forward to the weekend and I’m excited for this last race.”
9:50 a.m. – Good morning from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the opening day of on-track activity for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Smith’s 350 and IZOD IndyCar World Championships Presented by Honda.
Today’ abbreviated schedule will have the Firestone Indy Lights cars on the track for practice from 9:45-10:45 a.m. and again from 3-4 p.m. The cars of the IZOD IndyCar Series will be on the track, in two groups, for practice from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Be sure to check back here often, as we’ll be updating this blog throughout the day with news, stats and driver interviews.