Larson, Byron quickest on first day of NASCAR testing at LVMS
Kyle Larson and William Byron clocked the fastest laps during the first day of NASCAR testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
Larson finished atop the speed chart with a lap of 28.662 seconds at 188.403 miles per hour, while Byron was second at 28.678 and 188.298. Larson's fastest time came during the afternoon session, while Byron clocked his best lap in the morning.
"It was a really good test overall, and I was pretty excited to get here and get in the new Camaro," said Larson, who was testing the re-designed Chevy Camaro ZL1 for the first time. "These were my first laps in it, so it's just nice to know it has as much speed or more than what we had last year. We'll work on it some more tomorrow and maybe see if we can find some traffic to get in to see if it handles any different."
More than a dozen NASCAR drivers - including Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champions Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch - spent the day knocking the offseason rust off and helping their teams collect crucial data at the 1.5-mile oval. The day-long session was the first of two at LVMS in advance of the 2018 NASCAR season, which begins with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 18 and makes its first of two LVMS stops on March 4.
Las Vegas native Busch met with the media during the lunch break on Wednesday to talk about being back behind the wheel. He is optimistic about the 2018 season and excited about LVMS having two tripleheader weekends this year.
"It kind of feels like the first day of school, and it's exciting to be back at the track going 200 miles per hour," said Busch, the defending Daytona 500 champion. "It's huge for our track here in Las Vegas to kick off NASCAR's (MENCS) Playoffs, and it'll be a new and exciting feel for our sport to kick it off on a stage like Las Vegas Motor Speedway."
Busch was also asked his thoughts on attempting to become the first NASCAR driver to repeat as Daytona 500 champion since Sterling Marlin won two in a row from 1994-95.
"I'm definitely feeling the pressure for Daytona, and my family and friends have been asking me if I feel more or less pressure," Busch said. "I feel more (pressure) and want to go back there and repeat, and it hasn't been done since the early 1990s by Sterling Marlin. That gives us extra motivation to go there and win, and frankly I don't want to share any of the spoils that come with winning Daytona."
LVMS' first 2018 tripleheader weekend will consist of Stratosphere Qualifying and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, March 2, the Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 3, and the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday, March 4. LVMS will be the first track in history with two NASCAR tripleheader weekends in the same year when it hosts a second trifecta Sept. 14-16.
For Brad Keselowski, coming back to LVMS is always a thrill considering he is a two-time winner (2016, 2014) of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Las Vegas.
"It's a fun track to come to, and I always like coming to the tracks we win at," said Keselowski, who also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series' Boyd Gaming 300 at LVMS in 2014. "I've won here twice at the Cup level, and we probably should have won this race last spring, but had a part failure on the next-to-last lap while leading. Now that we've got two races here, it seems to justify us coming here and putting a little extra effort into this one with us kind of starting out the season and it having such an important effect on the back half of the season.
"We're glad to be here, to kind of get off the couch a little bit and get warmed up for Daytona. You always get a little bit of jitters like, 'Did I forget know how to drive?' but then you get back in and get going and knock the rust off."
A portion of the LVMS grandstands and pits will be open and available to the public free of charge, so fans can get an early racing fix roughly a month before the speedway's March 2-4 NASCAR tripleheader weekend. Gates open at 9 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday for Day 2 of testing, which will run until 5 p.m.
Food trucks, concessions, free parking, Neon Garage access and restroom facilities will be available for anyone coming to the track.
Race fans can already lock in their tickets to both LVMS tripleheaders and capitalize on discounted prices for buying annual passes for all six NASCAR races. The track's 2018 six-pack of events will show off a number of enhancements the track has planned for the coming months as well.
Fans can log on to LVMS.com or call 800-644-4444 to order tickets for any LVMS events.
NASCAR Testing at LVMS
Chris Buescher--JTG Racing
Kurt Busch--Stewart-Haas Racing
William Byron--Hendrick Motorsports
Cole Custer--Go Fas Racing
Ty Dillon--Germain Racing
Erik Jones--Joe Gibbs Racing
Drew Herring--Toyota Racing
Brad Keselowski--Team Penske
Kyle Larson--Chip Ganassi Racing
Paul Menard--Wood Brothers Racing
David Ragan--Ford Motor Company
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.--Roush Fenway Racing
Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.--Richard Petty Motorsports
Remaining event schedule
Thursday, Feb. 1
9 a.m. PT--LVMS gates, grandstands and Neon Garage open to the public
5 p.m.--Track secure