Oh what a year it was!
As each year comes to a close, it is customary to reflect on the highlights from the previous 12 months.
For Las Vegas Motor Speedway, that is a tall order considering the amazing 2017 season the facility enjoyed and all the news that was generated by the desert oasis. From exciting storylines and new sponsors, to immense growth and excitement from start to finish, the past 12 months have been chock full of headlines.
March was a mammoth month for the 21-year-old speedway, as NASCAR granted LVMS a second tripleheader weekend for 2018. That was announced during race week, the same week that included Pennzoil being named title sponsor of next year's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, Joey Logano won the Boyd Gaming 300 and Martin Truex Jr. took the checkered flag in the Kobalt 400 on his way to an eventual Cup championship.
April followed with Antron Brown, Allen Johnson Jr. and Tanner Gray winning titles at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals and the announcement that Toyota had extended its sponsorship of LVMS' fall NHRA event.
Local racers made headlines in June and July, with Bullring star Noah Gragson winning the pole and receiving his high school diploma at LVMS sister track Texas Motor Speedway in early June. The Bullring's popular Night of Fire was a big hit over the Fourth of July weekend and Chris Clyne - the son of LVMS founder Richie Clyne - won his first NOF title on the special night.
The Speedway Motorsports Inc. facility turned the drag racing community on its ear in August with the announcement that The Strip at LVMS would become just the second four-wide drag strip in the country along with sister track Charlotte's xMAX Dragway. Construction will be completed for the April 6-8 DENSO Auto Parts Four-Wide NHRA Nationals, and four-wide racing will officially become a West Coast reality.
Ben Rhodes won the Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Sept. 30, the track's final stand-alone NASCAR event before next year's pair of tripleheaders. October highlights included Aaron McMorran becoming the first driver in Bullring history to win season championships in two different divisions and Terry McMillen, Matt Hagan, Greg Anderson and Eddie Krawiec emerging victorious at the NHRA Toyota Nationals.
There was a lot to be thankful for at LVMS in November, as Jiffy Lube was announced as presenting sponsor of March's Pennzoil 400 and a number of upgrades and enhancements revealed for fans for next year's first tripleheader NASCAR weekend. If that wasn't enough, the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa was named title sponsor of the track's fall MENCS race, and LVMS earned its record fourth SMI Speedway of the Year honor as well.
The big news continued earlier this month, when the Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities distributed more than $311,000 in grants to nearly 60 local and national organizations. The speedway also announced the addition of a K&N Pro Series race at the LVMS Dirt Track for its fall NASCAR weekend, creating a quartet of big-time events at the track that special week in September.
There's never a dull moment at LVMS, and 2017 was evidence of that in a multitude of ways. It's been fun to be a part of it all, and each year seems to continue raising the bar for the facility.
If 2017 is any indication of what is to come, next year should be another record-setter fans will remember forever. Success breeds success, and LVMS has been an example of that mantra on a consistent basis.
The sky truly is the limit for the SMI property, and it will be a thrill to see what the future holds.