NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin was in town Tuesday today to help promote Las Vegas Motor Speedway's March 8-10 NASCAR Weekend. It was a busy day for the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year.

The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing made an appearance with fifth graders at the Lomie Heard Elementary School at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, where he participated in a Q&A session and raced pinewood derby cars against the students.

During a luncheon with local sponsors, the 32-year-old native of Chesterfield, Va., spoke about the new NASCAR “Generation 6” Sprint Cup Series race car.

“The manufacturers are excited. The drivers are excited about it. This is one of our most optimistic seasons,” said Hamlin. “The cars are about 150 pounds lighter and are going to be faster. Look for speed records to be broken, especially at tracks that have been repaved over the past six or seven years.

“The track record at Las Vegas is probably going to fall. I always look forward to Las Vegas. It’s one of the best venues. You can see that with the ticket sales and the fans. That’s what makes it exciting for the drivers, to race in front of big crowds.”

Hamlin also participated in a closest-to-the-pin contest with local media and lucky contest winners at the Callaway Golf Center in Las Vegas. The contest was won by Dan Lunning.