Four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams conclude tire tests at LVMS;

Gaughan: "We'll have a great race."


            Four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams concluded tire tests for Goodyear at Las Vegas Motor Speedway tonight.  The next time they see the track will be the Smith's Las Vegas 350 on Saturday, Sept. 23. Each of the four participating manufacturers was represented: Dodge (Brendan Gaughan of Las Vegas), Chevrolet (Dennis Setzer), Toyota (Todd Bodine) and Ford (Rick Crawford).

Hometown hero Brendan Gaughan - winner of the 2003 Las Vegas 350 at LVMS - still is fond of the old track but has found much to like about the new pavement and banked turns.

"I liked that old track," Gaughan admitted.  "It was smooth as glass and they did a great job.  But this place is going to be fun.  It's got some characteristics that Vegas didn't have before.  The speeds are 'way up and I think it’s going to be a fast place if we can get Goodyear to pick us a good tire - they brought a couple different ones for us to try - we’ll have a great race."

So how much faster is his Orleans Racing Dodge and the other NASCAR Craftsman Trucks going on the new track?

"It depends on which set of tires you put on.  There’s a couple sets of tires that are actually slower, and a couple that make us a little faster and a couple that make us 'way faster.  (The track qualifying record of 165.320 mph was set by Mike Skinner in 2004.)  It all just depends on what tire you put on.  All in all, I’ve seen us in race trim do 31.7s and 31.6s, so I think you’ll definitely see at least a second faster."

Rick Crawford represented the Ford contingent in his Circle Bar Truck Corral F-150.

“This ought to be called 'Las Vegas Superspeedway’ now,” said Crawford, who just finished a 25-lap run.  “It’s a really nice place.  You’re going to have side-by-side racing, a lot of drafting, a lot of speed, a lot of excitement for the fans.  I can’t wait to come back next month.  I like the width and the grip of the race track.  They did a nice job on the construction.  The speeds are going to be faster.

“This Circle Bar Ford F-150 is brand new.  We used this opportunity to be one of the manufacturers to come out to test tires for Goodyear and we brought a brand-new piece and it’s doing great.  It’s a pleasure to drive something that (crew chief Kevin) 'Cowboy’ Starland and the whole crew built for me.  When they make driving fun, we can breed success.”

            Having won the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series Sam's Town 300 and last year’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Las Vegas 350 at LVMS, Todd Bodine perhaps knows his way around the 1.5-mile superspeedway better than any of the other participating drivers.  The new banking surprised the veteran from Chemung, N.Y.

            "I’ll tell you, I was a little skeptical at first, riding around in a (stock) Tundra," Bodine admitted.  "But then I got in the race truck and I was very impressed.  The track itself - the shape, the entries and exits, the corners - they’re much better than they appear to be.  I think it’s going to be a really good track to race on.  I’ve won here in Busch and Truck and I’ve always loved coming to Vegas.  Hopefully we can get our truck just as good as it was last time."

“It’s a big, big change,” said Chevrolet’s Setzer.  “It’s a huge change -- I cannot believe how much has been changed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The banking’s going to be fun to work with, I think.  It’s got some characteristics unique to Vegas already.  We’ll see how it works.”

Tickets for the Smith’s Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Sept. 23 may be purchased by calling the LVMS ticket office at (702) 644-4444 or online at