Dario Franchitti is one of many drivers who have crossed over from open-wheel racing to test the waters of NASCAR.  Franchitti, 34, won the 2007 Indianapolis 500 and also the IndyCar Series championship.  The Edinburgh, Scotland, native signed a multi-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to compete full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and became the first European driver in the sanctioning body's 59-year history.

Franchitti's No. 40 Dodge Charger team will join the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when they come to test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Jan. 28-29.  Billed as NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas, the session allows NASCAR teams to test the new car which formerly was known as the Car of Tomorrow (COT).  The COT, which will be used in every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in 2008, never has raced at LVMS.

"Las Vegas will be an important test for us in the (Nationwide Series) Fastenal Dodge because it will be one of the few tests the team has before getting to Daytona in mid-February," said Franchitti, who also will drive a Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. "My crew chief Brian Pattie and the guys have been very patient with me as we continue to prepare for the Nationwide season. I look for us to get a lot of good data and information from Vegas."

Despite the fact that he is an Indianapolis 500 champion, Franchitti also will compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award.  It is not the first time an Indianapolis 500 winner has been forced to display the yellow "rookie stripe" on his car's rear bumper: Ganassi teammate Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2000 edition of the open-wheel classic, then switched to NASCAR racing and was relegated to neophyte status.

The talented veteran-turned-rookie told NASCAR Scene, "There's incredible competition in Indy car, but it was time to do something completely different, something I've been interested in doing for a long time."
Dario, who is married to actress Ashley Judd, has been occupied on many fronts as he prepares for the 2008 campaign.

"We've been really busy pretty much since last season with testing and getting up to speed with the Nationwide Series car. We ran ARCA, Craftsman Truck and Nationwide races at the end of 2007, and now we're preparing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. So I've been in quite a few different race cars since the announcement to come to NASCAR last October."

LVMS' grandstands will be open to the public during the Jan. 28-29 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. The NASCAR Nationwide Series (formerly known as the NASCAR Busch Series) will test at LVMS Jan. 30-31.

Tickets for the Feb. 29-March 2 NASCAR Weekend - featuring the UAW-Dodge 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 - are on sale by calling (800) 644-4444 or visiting www.LVMS.com. Race fans also may purchase tickets to the exciting Neon Garage fan experience as well as Driver Introduction passes and Lucky 7 preferred parking passes.