Keselowski wins Kobalt 400 pole on Stratosphere Pole Day
By Lori Vizza
6:25 pm - Friday Good Night - That will do it for Day 1. Please join us tomorrow for Day 2, which features two more rounds of Monster Energy Cup Series practice, Xfinity Series qualifying and the Boyd Gaming 300 Xfinity Series race.
5:45 pm - Keselowski Wins the Pole for the Kobalt 400 - Brad Keselowski won the pole for Sunday's Kobalt 400 with a 193.680 mph lap. Martin Truex, Jr., just missed the top spot with a lap at 193.458 mph, which translates to just 030-second at this 1.5-mile speedway. Ryan Blaney lines up third for the race after posting his first top-10 start at LVMS. Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson round out the top five.
For Keselowski, it was his 13th career pole and his first at LVMS in nine series attempts. His most recent pole came at Pocono Speedway in June 2016.
"It was really fast," said Keselowski about his lap. "Somebody told me we hit 207 mph (going into the corner). That's getting around this place. Honestly, I didn't think it would hold up."
Kyle Busch will start ninth on the grid while big bro' Kurt will line up 17th. Erik Jones was the fastest qualifying rookie and will start in the eighth position.
5:25 pm - Cup Qualifying, Round 2 Done - Ryan Blaney upped the ante for the fastest lap of the day with a 194.147 mph lap. Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex, Jr. rounded out the top five. The remaining drivers advancing to the third round are Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez.
5:05 pm - Cup Qualifying, Round 1 Done - Kyle Busch blistered the track with the fastest lap of the day so far at 194.028 mph. Brad Keselowski was second at 193.389 mph. Erik Jones was third, followed by reigning Series Champ Jimmie Johnson and Daniel Suarez. The top 24 drivers advance to Round 2. AJ Allmendinger just makes the top 24 in the closing laps of the round and bumps his JTG Daugherty Racing teammate, Chris Buescher, back to 25th and out of contention for the pole.
4:45 pm - Cup Qualifying Set to Begin - The Cup cars are lining up on pit road and we're just a few minutes away from qualifying. If practice was any indication, Martin Truex, Jr. is the man to beat.
4:29 pm - Gaughan Shines On - Xfinity Series driver Brendan Gaughan is also a successful businessman and his newest venture as the co-owner of a local distillery harkens back to NASCAR's roots. Gaughan recently introduced City Lights Shine, a smooth-sipping flavored whiskey moonshine produced by the first and only legal distillery in Las Vegas. Due to production limits, the spirit is currently only available at the South Point (Gaughan's family's property) and here at the Speedway in the concession stands.
Gaughan has partnered up with former NASCAR official Mike Dolan, who, according to Gaughan, "may have made a produce once in a while that we used to taste - may or may not, I will invoke my right to the Fifth Amendment."
To Gaughan's surprise his parents took a liking to the shine and his mother urged him into looking into getting involved with producing the product.
"I like to do what I know," Gaughan said. "That's kind of been the Gaughan family motto for 50 years. The numbers made sense. My partner moved out from North Carolina. We have a distillery now up at Rainbow and Warm Springs, about three miles from the South Point, a mile from Southern Glazer, my distributor. I just got a text about 30 minutes ago the new shipment arrived to the loading dock (at the South Point) at 8:15 am and they were loading up more product to the gift shop as I spoke."
The South Point has an exclusive drink menu featuring the spirit including one especially for race fans called the Need for Speed made with City Lights Strawberry or Blueberry, fresh lime juice and ginger beer served over ice with a fresh lime wedge. Cheers!
4:00 pm - Xfinity Series Practice
Complete - Daniel Suarez was fastest at 182.389 mph, just slightly slower than Gaughan's fastest lap in the first session . Matt Tifft was second overall in the session with a lap at 182.322 mph. Rounding out the top five were Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Brandon Jones.
3:00 pm - Xfinity Final Practice Underway - The Xfinity drivers have just taken to the track for their final practice session of the weekend. Hometown fave Brendan Gaughan showed his hand during the 1st session with a full-blown qualifying run that put him at the head of the class. Time for the rest of the field to show what they got for tomorrow's Boyd Gaming 300.
2:00 pm - Xfinity Series Practice #1 Complete - The session has ended with Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan leading the way with a lap at 182.568 mph. Rounding out the top five were Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, rookie William Byron, and Brad Keselowski.
1:20 pm - Pennzoil and LVMS Team Up for 2018 and Beyond - In case you haven't heard the news, the Monster Cup and Xfinity teams will double their Pennzoil, which currently serves as a sponsor for the Penske Motorsports Ford driven by Joey Logano, will expand its involvement in the sport when it assumes title sponsorship of the spring Cup race beginning in March 2018.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at LVMS in between practice sessions.
"Pennzoil is a storied name in NASCAR," said LVMS President Chris Powell. "We're really looking forward to a long-term relationship with everyone associated with the brand."
1:00 pm - Xfinity Practice Underway – The Xfinity teams have taken to the track for their first of two practice sessions scheduled for this afternoon.
12:30 pm - Cup Practice Complete - The first practice session of the day is in the books. Truex led the way and was the only driver to break the 193 mph barrier, although Brad Keselowski almost joined him with a lap at 192.995 mph. Johnson was third fastest, followed by Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth.
Hometown heroes Kyle and Kurt Busch ranked 14th an 20th, respectively.
Kasey Kahne, who leads all drivers with three poles here at LVMS, was 8th on the speed chart at 192.239 mph.
The teams will have a little over three hours to make any further adjustments to their rides in preparation for this afternoon's qualifying session.
12:15 pm - Cup Practice Continues - We've been clean and green through this practice session and with about 10 minutes to go, Martin Truex, Jr. has jumped atop the leader board with a 193.500 mph lap. Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski round out the top five.
11:40 am - Daytona 500 Trophy Tour - Kurt Busch is so proud of winning this year's Daytona 500 that he's decided take the Harley J Earl trophy on the road. For many races, drivers have the option of ordering replica trophies to share with sponsors and other supporters. But when it comes to the prize for the season opener, there's no replicas allowed. As one of Durango High School's most famous graduates, Kurt Busch hosted a pep rally yesterday with the trophy in tow.
"I wanted to give one to Monster," Busch explained. "I wanted to buy one for Ford and give them one to put in their museum, but you can't get replicas. So I just came up with the idea similar to the Stanley Cup. We're just gonna take it around to all these different places. Yes, it's in my hotel room. It's about as easy as a stroller. It’s got a carry case. It’s got wheels, and you just throw it in the trunk and go. I’ve got insurance on it, though.
"Earl is gonna have his own identify. I think he’s probably gonna high a blackjack table on Sunday night after the race. Watch out, he’s gonna bet all 500s because he’s 500."
11:05 am - Cup Practice Underway - The first Cup Series practice is underway. Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott is the first car on the track. The teams will have the track until 12:25 pm to prepare their cars for this afternoon’s qualifying session.
10:18 am - Sponsor Love in a PC World - Barstool Sports made headlines earlier this year when the NFL revoked the controversial and irreverent media company's credentials for the Super Bowl. This weekend they're hooking up with Natural Light to sponsor the JTG Daugherty racing entry driven by Chris Buescher.
"I'm going to try and keep it as politically correct as I can, for my sake," said Buescher, with a chuckle. "It's going to be a good time regardless. They are coming out for the race weekend, part of their Natty Light tour here. They have been talking to a handful of our pit crew members as well. They are pretty excited to be interviewed. I don’t know, they might not have to be as politically correct as me, so their answers might be more fun to some of the interviews. Yeah, we are excited about it, but I’m going to have to tip-toe a little bit I believe."
9:15 am - Good morning and welcome to this weekend's coverage of NASCAR weekend. We've got a full day of on track activity today starting with Monster Energy Cup Series practice at 11 am. The Xfinity Series will hit the track for two 55-minute practice sessions at 1 pm and 3 pm. Stratosphere qualifying for the Cup teams begins at 4:45 pm when we'll set the line up for Sunday's Kobalt 400.
Temperatures should climb into the 80s today so come on out and join us! It's OK, the boss will understand.