By: Lori Vizza
6:45 pm - That'll do it for today's coverage from the track. Congratulations to Jeff Gordon on his first ever LVMS pole. Join us tomorrow for the 19th annual Boyd Gaming Xfinity race.
6:28 pm - Speedy Logano on the Front Row Again - After winning the pole at Atlanta last week, Logano came up just 0.052-second of making it two in a row.
"I think I left a little bit out in (Turns) 1 and 2, maybe just a tad," said Logano, who set the previous track record of 194.679 mph in 2014. "(Turns) 3and 4, I felt like we kind of got all of it. The car got a little free, which I think may have hurt a little bit on momentum back to the line. Overall, I felt it was a pretty good lap. If it wasn't first it was going to be really close and obviously it was really close. Jeff definitely laid a good one down."
5:40 pm - Gordon Wins the Pole - Jeff Gordon won the pole for his final start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and he did it by setting a new track qualifying record of 194.679 mph. There isn't much Gordon hasn't accomplished in his storied career but until today, winning a pole at LVMS was something that had eluded him.
"I didn't come off the throttle much, if any," said Gordon about his record-breaking run. "This is a great, great way to start the weekend here in Las Vegas. I can’t believe it’s my first pole here at Vegas and it’s my final race here. That’s pretty cool."
Rounding out the top 5 were Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Kyle Larson.
5:25 pm - Sprint Cup 2nd Round Qualifying - Matt Kenseth was the first driver to break the existing qualifying record with a 193.292 mph lap but that didn't last long because just moments later, Jamie McMurray jumped to the head of the class with a 193.833 mph effort.
McMurray hangs onto P1 with Kyle Larson, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr 2nd through 5th.
Those 5 drivers along with Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart will participate in the final round and run for the pole.
5:10 pm - Sprint Cup 1st Round Qualifying - Joey Logano was fastest in that first round with a lap of 193.092 mph. Second through fifth are Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Keselowski ended up 6th on the speed chart.
The five drivers who failed to make the field are Reed Sorenson, Mike Bliss, Travis Kvapil, Mike Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto.
5:01 pm - Keselowski On Track - Keselowski's makes it through tech (again) and he makes it out in time to participate in the first round of qualifying.
5:00 pm - Update on Keselowski - According to a NASCAR spokesman, an official on pit road observed a Penske Racing crew member pulling out the sheet metal in the area in front of the rear tires after the car was cleared through inspection. That's a big no-no and what sent the No 2 car back to the inspection bay for further review.
4:55 pm - Cup Drivers Set to Qualify - We're set for three rounds of qualifying to determine who gets the privilege of leading the field to green for Sunday's Kobalt 400. We have 48 entries, meaning five teams will face the disappointment of packing up and heading for home without a chance to race.
And this just in…At the last minute, Brad Keselowsi's car is pulled off the grid to go back through inspection. Apparently, NASCAR inspectors have an issue with opening in front of the rear tires and want to take a closer look.
Meanwhile, the track is now open for the first round of qualifying.
4:40 pm - Dillon Fastest Xfinity Driver - The Xfinity Series practice is over and Austin Dillon hung onto the top spot with his 182.927 mph lap. Brian Scott is second fastest at 175.633 mph and Ryan Sieg was third at 179.384 mph. Brendan Gaughan and Regan Smith rounded out the top 5.
4:30 pm - Honoring Gordon - So, what do you give to a retiring four-time Cup Series Champion who has everything? Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials wanted to come up with an appropriate parting gift to commemorate Jeff Gordon's final race in Sin City. What they came up with is a spectacular custom blackjack table with race images, the speedway logo and the stylized 24 printed on the felt. Speedway president Chris Powell made the presentation today in the media center.
"He (Powell) knows me too well," said Gordon. "He knows how much I like blackjack and poker. I certainly will (enjoy it) and so will friends of mine. I'm a better gambler on the race track. I used to play a lot of blackjack and I still play a little bit of blackjack. Then I started playing a lot of poker, I realized, like most things I do outside of racing, that I don't get near enough time to practice them and build a real skill for them. As long as I don't put my life savings on the table then I enjoy it. It's a lot of fun."
4:05 pm - Xfinity Practice Update - Austin Dillon continues to dominate this practice session. He reset the bar to 182.927 mph and the next closest driver is Brian Scott at 179.665 mph. Las Vegas' own Brendan Gaughan is now third on the speed chart followed by Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler.
3:10 pm - Final Xfinity Practice Underway - The Xfinity drivers are back on the track for their final 90-minute practice. Austin Dillon picks up right where he left off with a 180.379 mph lap. Smith is second fastest at 179.301 mph followed by Sadler, Hamlin and Earnhardt.
2:25 pm - Dillon Fastest in Xfinity Practice - The first of two Xfinity practices is in the books and Austin Dillon was the only driver to crack the 180 mph barrier with a lap of 180.977 mph. Dale Earnhardt, Jr was second fastest with a 179.414 mph lap. Regan Smith, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5. The teams will take a 30 minute break and return to the track at 3 pm for their final practice session.
1:50 pm - Xfinity Series on Track - We're 20 minutes into the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions and Austin Dillon leads the way early with a 180.566 mph lap. Second through 5th are Dale Earnhardt Jr, Regan Smith, Blake Koch and Elliott Sadler.
1:20 pm - Kyle Larson Fastest in Practice - Kyle Larson saved his best lap for last and jumped to the top of the speed chart with a 191.646 mph lap in the closing minutes of the session. Gordon hung onto 2nd with a 191.225 mph lap and Keselowski wound up 3rd at 190.968 mph. David Ragan, substituting for Kyle Busch, was 4th fastest and Jamie McMurray was 5th.
1:05 pm - Gordon Leads the Way - Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of just three race tracks where Jeff Gordon has yet to win a pole and with just one chance left, he hopes to change that. With 10 minutes to go in practice, Gordon is fastest at 191.225 mph, bumping Keselowski back to 2nd.
1:00 pm - Keselowski Ups the Ante to 191 mph - Brad Keselowski has just posted the fastest lap of the session at 191.035 mph. With less than 15 minutes to go, Logano is 2nd fastest and Carl Edwards, Newman and Johnson round out the top 5.
12:53 pm - Logano Tops Johnson - Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano takes over the top spot from Johnson with a 190.826 mph lap while Ryan Newman jumps to 2nd with a lap of 190.597 mph. Johnson hangs onto 3rd with Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski close behind.
12:35 pm - Johnson Breaks 190 mph – Jimmie Johnson takes over the top spot and so far, is the only driver to break the 190 mph barrier. Keselowski is 2nd, followed by Hornish, Biffle and Michael McDowell.
12:30 pm - Keselowski On Top – We're 30 minutes into this practice session and Brad Keselowski is now fastest with a lap of 189.188 mph. Hornish is sitting on his earlier lap and remains second. Jimmie Johnson is 3rd fastest, followed by Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson.
12:11 pm - Annett Spins - We're under a red flag condition as Michael Annett loses control of his No 46 Chevrolet coming off Turn 4 and spins into the infield grass. Luckily for him, he avoided any contact, so he'll head back to the garage for some fresh tires and get back after it.
12:10 pm - Sprint Cup Practice Underway – The Cup cars are on the track for their practice session. After the first ten minutes, Sam Hornish Jr is the early leader with a lap of 188.650 mph. Brad Keselowski is second with a lap of 187.852 mph. Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamilin and Jamie McMurray round out the top 5 with 65 minutes remaining in the session.
11:45 am - Vickers Happy to Be Back – Less than three months after undergoing open-heart surgery, Brian Vickers is once again ready to race. Vickers missed races in 2010 when surgeons inserted a patch to repair a hole in his heart. In 2013, blood clots forced Vickers to the sidelines again. His latest medical scare came in December when doctors discovered his body was rejecting the patch and scheduled yet another surgery to replace it. Now, Vickers is happy to report that he is feeling good and excited to be back behind the wheel of Michael Waltrip Racing's No 55 Toyota.
"I feel like I've had this press conference before," Vickers joked. "There were certainly times when I thought I'd never be back. I couldn't be more thrilled about it. I kind of look at it like a win-win. If we go out there and do well, that's great. Even if we don't, just being able to get back in the racecar and go 200 (mph) is incredible. No matter what the outcome, I'm happy to be here and happy to be back in the car and get a chance to do something I love. I'm an optimist. I think we're gonna go out there and do well."
11:00 am - Following the Dominos - Kyle Busch's injuries at Daytona set in motion a game of musical chairs that saw David Ragan take over his seat in the No 18 Toyota while Brett Moffitt fills in for Ragan in the Front Row Motorsports No 34 Ford. Last weekend at Atlanta, Moffit drove the No 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota keeping the seat warm for Brian Vickers, who returns this weekend at Las Vegas after medical leave caused him to miss the first two races of the season.
The Atlanta race was Moffitt's eighth career start in the Sprint Cup Series and he rose to the occasion with an impressive 8th place finish. That performance caught the eye of Front Row Motorsports team owner Bob Jenkins, who sealed a deal for the Michael Waltrip Racing development driver to drive the No 34 entry in the next three races.
"It was a great opportunity that Michael Waltrip gave me (at Atlanta)," said Moffitt. "It was a high-pressure situation and it opened the door with Front Row Motorsports for the next three races. I think you need to respect the expectations. My goal is to go out there and just run smart races, finish the races and come home with a clean car. Last week did help prove that I belong out there."
10:00 am - Kurt Busch Baby Stepping to Return - The announcement made by the Delaware Department of Justice stating it would not pursue criminal charges against Kurt Busch "removes a significant impediment to his reinstatement" according to a statement from NASCAR on March 5, 2015. But he still has a long way to go. Earlier this week NASCAR announced that Busch had formally accepted the terms of a reinstatement program. According to the sanctioning body, his eligibility for reinstatement will continue to be governed by the NASCAR rulebook and the terms set forth in the program despite the fact he no longer faces criminal domestic violence charges.
9:30 am - Massaging the Process - NASCAR amended the Friday schedule for this week's race plus the next two races at Phoenix and Fontana to avoid the issue faced at Atlanta last weekend when Jeff Gordon and a dozen other drivers failed to make it through inspection in time to qualify. To allow more time for inspection, the first practice session on Friday has been shortened by 10 minutes and qualifying will start five minutes later. This gives teams an extra 15 minutes to get through the inspection process.
8:30 am - Safety First - NASCAR and the race tracks are accelerating SAFER barrier development in the wake of crashes during the first two weeks of the season. Kyle Busch suffered a broken right leg and broken left foot that will take months of recovery after crashing into an unprotected wall at Daytona during the Xfinity Race. Last week, Jeff Gordon crashed into an unprotected wall at Atlanta but was lucky enough to escape injury.
According to LVMS track president Chris Powell, speedway officials have made several minor modifications in certain areas of the track, including the openings to pit road per NASCAR's request following a inspection of the track this past Monday. Speedway and sanctioning body officials plan to discuss possible long-term alterations following this weekend's Kobalt 400.
Phoenix International Raceway plans to install a tire pack barrier inside Turn 4 before next weekend's race.
And for the record, Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood declared that the speedway plans to install SAFER barriers "on every inch of this property."
8:00 am - Good morning and welcome to Stratosphere Pole Day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway! The NASCAR teams are busy at work preparing their cars for this weekend's events.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will have 75 minutes of practice beginning at noon before turning the track over to the Xfinity Series for two practice sessions, 1:30-2:25 pm and 3-4:25 pm.
The Sprint Cup drivers will return to the track at 4:40 pm for qualifying for Sunday's Kobalt 400.
Campers be sure to check out the Kobalt Kampout RV Appreciation Party in the Neon Garage this evening from 6-8 pm.
Check in throughout the weekend for all the action as it happens.