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NASCAR Statement on Kurt Busch

Las Vegas has different feel without Busch brothers

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Burning Questions

Is 500 miles too long at Atlanta? Will Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson be in the final four? Which team should go after Brett Moffitt? Are you surprised by Kyle Busch's tweet? Have at it! Turn 4 »

Kurt Busch Clears Legal Hurdle

Kurt Busch will not face criminal charges over the alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll in September. He remains suspended by NASCAR. Story » McGee: NASCAR still made right call »

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Move over, dad: Keelan Harvick roughs up father during 'race'

Here's a NASCAR Throwback Thursday stat that will blow your mind

FS1's Adam Alexander: Hamlin, Blaney lead XFINITY charge into Vegas

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Favorites, underdogs share Las Vegas spotlight 

Watch: Las Vegas will be true test for drivers

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NASCAR power rankings: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
written by Christopher Sorbey
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 Make no mistake, qualifying impacts plenty

Axalta to sponsor Regan Smith at Phoenix

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Kurt Busch: Where does NASCAR go from here?
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SN Power Rankings: Harvick too good to pass up as No. 1

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Today's Featured Commentary
Inspection Troubles and AT&T U-Verse Squabbles
Potts' Shots
by John Potts

Well, it appears that I have to make another statement before getting on with this week’s column: As God is my witness, I had nothing to do with the theft of Travis Kvapil’s Sprint Cup car from a motel parking lot near Atlanta.

So NASCAR had another problem with qualifying, this time at Atlanta and this one causing 13 teams to miss the first session and some of them to miss the race. Teams had to go back through again for various violations, as NASCAR said, and they just ran out of time.

First, a couple of driver comments…

Jeff Gordon: “ [NASCAR] should have recognized they had an issue. I'm sorry, but when you have this many teams that are having issues going through, there's something wrong. There's something wrong with the system or there's something wrong with the amount of time they allot to get through. There's no way this many good cars, talented people, that they can't figure out how to get these cars through inspection. These guys are too smart. Yeah, we're pushing limits, but there's something wrong here."

Mike Wallace (who missed the race): “ We had to go back around because we were 40-thousandths of an inch red. The last six cars didn't have to do that, and one of those six cars sent us home. I don't really understand all the things they do, but that certainly isn't the level playing field we're all told is there. Shame on the team if you're wrong, but don't give five or six guys a free run at it. That's all I know."

Now, Sprint Cup managing director Richard Buck refuted Wallace’s claim, noting that teams had the opportunity for inspection Friday.  They were “pushing it,” he added, noting “…that’s their job.”

Most of the teams, Buck said, were trying to find some “mechanical grip” at a track where tire wear is crucial. He said twenty cars, almost double the usual amount, had to be reinspected at least once.

OK. The key for me in this situation is that the teams had the opportunity to be inspected on Friday. Yes, I’m sure they would have had to go through pre-qualifying inspection again on Sunday, but they had to the chance to find out where they were wrong the day before, and have the car in compliance for Saturday.

In a conversation Monday, my son Matt put it more bluntly that I did.

“They were cheating,” he said. “They got caught cheating. Simple as that.”

Another thing occurred to me Monday after reading a comment on Facebook from an engineer.

This guy wondered just how well the NASCAR equipment is calibrated after being moved cross-country from race to race. He said whenever his company moves any kind of measuring equipment, it has to be re-calibrated before it can be used again.

Surely NASCAR has thought of this issue, haven’t they?

Of course, Jimmie Johnson and others who didn’t get to qualify proved that the cream almost always rises to the top by charging to the front.

Next subject. AT&T’s U-verse cable system has decided they’re not going to carry the XFINITY races live on Fox Sports 1 this season.

I didn’t know this fact until Saturday afternoon, when I tuned in and ended up with something called the World Dart Championships. I had no idea there was any such animal as the World Dart Championships, but I am now among the enlightened.

A quick survey on Facebook revealed that a LOT of people around the world were indeed watching the race on Fox Sports 1. A few inquiries made it clear that they were with Time Warner, DirecTV, Comcast, etc.

I did hook up with a few people who were also trying to watch on AT&T, and they had the same problem. I think found a news item stating AT&T and Fox Sports 1 were in a dispute over what the cable system would have to pay for these races.

Naturally, I went to the phone to call AT&T customer service and after being put on hold for 20 minutes, I gave up. Back to the computer, where later a friend said he finally got to talk to a human being after 48 minutes.

This phenomenon tells me that the AT&T switchboard was jammed, probably with calls from irate stock car racing fans. That, in turn, tells me that a settlement to the dispute may be in the offing before too long.

AT&T says they don’t want to pass the added cost along to their consumers. Considering the size of AT&T, I’d say it would amount to less than a dollar per customer per month.

I’ve been with AT&T in one form or another for over 15 years now. I’ve got my internet, cable, landline, and two cell phones “bundled” which makes for a terrific deal. Haven’t had a landline for at least 12 years, but we needed one to work the intercom/buzzer system in our new apartment; AT&T provided it as part of my package. At least I did get to watch the replay of the race by recording it when it ran at midnight ET on Saturday. I don’t like the idea of possibly having to comment on an event if I don’t watch it.

Until next week...

The Critic's Annex: Dale Earnhardt Film Duel
by Phil Allaway

If you've been reading my critique columns over the past six-plus years at Frontstretch or here in the Newsletter, you know that I like documentaries.  I'm a history nut and like to learn new things.  So when NASCAR and SPIKE announced the newest Dale Earnhardt special, I Am Dale Earnhardt, I was already hooked a week it before it aired.  The question that was at the back of my mind is how it holds up to Dale, the 2007 Paul Newman-narrated documentary that is more or less considered the gold standard when it comes to NASCAR documentaries.

In the case of I Am Dale Earnhardt, the overarching theme through much of the film is the apparent fact Earnhardt really didn't care about anything other than winning until he was about age 45.  While it seemed that way at times, that's not necessarily true.  The idea of Earnhardt driving like he was trying to feed his family was a common theme here.  I think that's a good notion, one that would explain a lot of his aggressive on-track behavior.  The thing is, Earnhardt kept that up well after the point where it really wasn't necessary anymore. 
Especially since Earnhardt died, stories of his generosity have become well-known.  That was never particularly touched upon on SPIKE, or in Dale for that matter.  I Am Dale Earnhardt would have you believe that he didn't particularly begin to mellow until he broke his shoulder blade and sternum at Talladega in 1996.  The whole mess surrounding that race is a story for another day.  Long story short, the 1996 DieHard 500 at Talladega is the last Sprint Cup race to be tape-delayed.

I Am Dale Earnhardt also insisted upon "Tarantinoing" the story.  In case you're unfamiliar, that is an editing technique in which you start with the ending, then work your way back there.  As a result, you start the special off kind of bummed because you have a bunch of people (including Michael Waltrip) talking about Earnhardt's death before we went back into the past.  It's definitely not the tone that I would have preferred the documentary to start on.

While both films did use a number of interviews, Dale tended to focus on interviews with colleagues, family and competitors.  I Am Dale Earnhardt had people in those categories as well (including a number of people that were interviewed for Dale).  However, there were others that had little to no connection to Earnhardt.  The best example I can give here is Cassadee Pope.  Pope's a 25-year-old country music singer and a former contestant on The Voice.  She essentially has no connection to the story, yet spent her time on the show talking about how her father and grandfather were huge Earnhardt fans and would go to races to root him on.  That's nice and all, but as much as you support NASCAR these days, Cassadee, you're a little out of your element here.  I am perfectly fine with Kix Brooks chipping in since he was a personal friend of Earnhardt.

DEI was mentioned as a business Earnhardt wanted to build up for his children.  But aside from putting Earnhardt Jr. in with the team, they really didn't talk about it all that much.  There was no mention of the team's struggles when they moved up to Cup full-time in 1998. Instead, the documentary made it look like they had near immediate success when they originally tore up a bunch of cars, missed races and lost driver Steve Park to a broken leg within a month to start the year (he'd miss nearly half the season).

Dale went a different direction, talking about Earnhardt's Daytona 500 struggles before getting into his family life in Kannapolis.  Ultimately, the race played into most of the rest of the film.  While Newman is listed as the narrator of Dale, Earnhardt (via past interview footage) essentially narrates the film himself.  There was more about the relationship between Earnhardt and owner Richard Childress in the film. 

Despite everything I said above, there are some aspects of the story that I Am Dale Earnhardt does better than Dale.  For instance, Dale doesn't really touch much upon Earnhardt's relationship with Neil Bonnett, one of his best friends.  I Am Dale Earnhardt included clips of Earnhardt and Bonnett hunting and fishing together and just hanging out.  Also, there were plenty of clips from Bonnett's show, Winners, which aired on TNN (now SPIKE) on Saturday afternoons in the early 1990s right after Inside Winston Cup Racing.  When the show was originally on, I was between the ages of 7-10.  I thought the show was decent at the time, but the clips made it look like incredible fun for everyone involved, despite the fact that Bonnett would rather have been driving at the time.  They also went in-depth on Earnhardt's feelings after Bonnett was killed at Daytona in 1994, which Dale did not touch on.

Overall, both films are enjoyable to watch.  I would rate Dale higher than I Am Dale Earnhardt, but regardless of which film you pick, I think you would enjoy it.  With a roughly one-hour running time, I would like to have seen what got cut out, to be honest.  There's probably some gems in there.   

Frontstretch Line of the Week

From Tweet N Greet: Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin & More

Don't know how, but I made it 31 years without knowing what a narwhal is. Those were the good ol' days..." - a tweet from Brad Keselowski about Sprint's ubiquitous Narwhals commercial          

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Kurt Busch won't face criminal charges
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Dale Jr. likes odds, has car for Las Vegas win

Driver Reports: Previewing Las Vegas

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C O L U M N S / C O M M E N T A R I E S
Statement From Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber On Safety … PHOENIX – “Following a review of the existing safety barriers at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) with ISC and NASCAR officials, PIR will supplement its existing barrier system. - See more at:
Deadline Approaching for Fans to Own Their Seat from Daytona International Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway ticket holders who want to secure a piece of history have until Friday, March 6 to purchase their own seat that ... - See more at:

Biffle to Drive No. 16 Cheez-It Ford in Vegas ‘Cheez-It’ Crackers makes first Sprint Cup start of 2015 in Vegas CONCORD, N.C. (March 4, 2015) – Greg Biffle will drive the No. 16 Cheez-It Ford Fusion this weekend - See more at:
Google Alerts
NASCAR Statistical Advance: Analyzing the KOBALT 400
Auto Racing Daily
The construction to build the superspeedway known today as Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) began in 1995. Speedway Motorsports Inc.
News & Observer
The first NASCAR race held at LVMS was a K&N Pro Series West event won by Ken Schrader on Nov. 2, 1996. Mark Martin won the inaugural Sprint ...
Inaugural Motorsports Cruise offers 2015 Trip with NASCAR Stars
Business Wire (press release)
The cruise will have appearances by current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers, racing legends, crew chiefs, cup owners and racing executives.
BK Racing promotes Dubois to GM
LAS VEGAS – BK Racing has elevated Ryan Dubois from shop foreman to General Manager effective immediately. Dubois began his NASCAR career ...

Green-white-checkered: 2015 NASCAR storylines
Brock Press
Darrell Waltrip says it best: “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let's go racing boys!” The Daytona 500 commenced the start of the 2015 Nascar season and ...

NASCAR calls shrinking grandstands 'right-sizing'
"Right-sizing is the term," NASCAR's Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar told Reuters after addressing the Sport Business Summit in midtown ...
  Black Jack—The Brian Perry Story
   N A S C A R * C A N A D I A N * T I R E * S E R I E S
Inside Track Motorsport News
The season will open at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the Victoria Day Speedfest, May 15-17, in support of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

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Jeff Gordon is off to a rough start in his final full-time season, but he’s been in this spot before and bounced back. More      

Recent News


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Hot 20 – Joey and Jimmie Lead the Way West to Las Vegas for Some Action…and Some Warmth

While Daytona was good, Atlanta was tolerable. I wonder, if I was a transient type flipping channels, how long would I have lingered on the action beaming in from Georgia?

Stenhouse Jr. Looks to Add Name to Roush Fenway’s Cup Success at Las Vegas

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hopes Las Vegas launches his junior year in the Sprint Cup series just as it did in his junior year in the XFINITY series in 2012. Stenhouse used the early win at Las Vegas that year to launch into a season that would see him visit victory lane on five more occasions that season.

Roush Fenway Racing’s 7-Man Wolfpack heads to Las Vegas – Advance

Coming off of a cold weekend in Atlanta, Roush Fenway Racing looks to go on a heater this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) and ensure that what happens there propels them throughout the rest of the season.

NASCAR’s King to Take Part in Martinsville Speedway’s Green Flag Experience

“I think back on all the years I have been around this sport, this track, and the one constant throughout it all is Richard Petty,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “He’s won here as a driver. He’s won here as a car owner. He’s a true legend; a real piece of both NASCAR and Martinsville history.”

Dan Price to Showcase New Modified Ride at Motorama

After having years of success in the Thunder Car ranks at Kawartha and Peterborough Speedway, Dan Price is kicking it up a notch for the 2015 season. Price will be joining the OSCAAR Modified tour, set to go across Ontario in the open-wheel ranks in search of success.

Dustin Jackson to be Part of Motorama’s Young Guns Panel Motorama Younggun Panel Host Spencer Lewis announced earlier this week via Inside Track Motorsports News that Dustin Jackson will be the first driver featured as part of the show's Younggun Panel.

Chad Strawn To Showcase OSCAAR Modified at Motorama

Following a successful season last year, Chad Strawn is set to run the full OSCAAR Modified schedule for the 2015.

Stay the Course is Martin Truex Jr.’s Las Vegas Mission

Though it's early in the NASCAR season, Martin Truex Jr. feels his Furniture Row Racing team is on the right path to have continued success and overcome obstacles as it pursues a goal of earning a Chase berth at the conclusion of the 26-race regular season.

Whitt: No. 35 Can Get ‘Down and Dirty’ on Las Vegas Track

Vegas is actually a little bit smoother than Atlanta. You can probably get it down and dirty a little more and ride more like IndyCar. But I do think that what we take out of Atlanta we can put to use in Vegas on our Speed Stick Ford."

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Analysis: Atlanta win a huge shot in the arm for Johnson, No. 48 team


One Wacky Week

Travis Kvapil and Team Xtreme got their race car -- and the pickup truck that hauled it -- back. Still no sign of the stolen trailer. Needless to say, it's been a weird week. Bob Pockrass »

Blog: Track profits up »

Inspection breakdown: What went wrong at Atlanta


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Brett Moffitt takes over No. 34 seat for three races
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Kobalt 400 odds – Driver-by-driver breakdown of Sunday's race in Las Vegas

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Police Finds Person of Interest in Team Xtreme Racing Theft

Good news out of Georgia.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting the Morrow Police Department is close to tracking down those responsible for stealing the dually truck and trailer that carried the car Travis Kvapil was intending to use last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Police are in the process of setting up an interview with a person of interest in the case.  Read more      
Jeff Gordon to Be Honored at Texas Motor Speedway Event

Jeff Gordon requested prior to the season that he not receive farewell gifts during his final full year of driving.  However, that hasn't stopped tracks from organizing their own way to pay tribute to the five-time champion.  Texas Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that Gordon will be honored in a special ceremony next Thursday in Dallas.  Read more

Today's Featured Commentary
Georgia on My Mind
Professor of Speed

by Dr. Mark Howell

We have reached the middle-point of the semester here at the small college where I teach, so allow me to assign a short quiz:

Question: Which of the following situations have been part of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s legacy as a NASCAR track?

a) Having a favored Labor Day race date replaced by one in early March.
b) Seeing its two annual events trimmed to a single race.
c) Okaying the removal of grandstand seats because of decreased attendance.
d) Home of NASCAR’s most-glaring technical inspection snafu.
e) All of the above.

The correct answer? Sadly, the right response would be e).

Don’t get me wrong: Atlanta has been home to many, many historic moments in NASCAR history. It’s where Jeff Gordon made his Sprint Cup debut in 1992. It’s where “King Richard” Petty, that same year and at that same event, drove his final race. It’s where Kevin Harvick outran Jeff Gordon in 2001 to win his first career Sprint Cup race as a replacement for the late Dale Earnhardt, just three weeks after “The Intimidator’s” death at Daytona.

If you want to recall major events in NASCAR history, Atlanta is one of the truly great speedways to consider. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the racetracks most affected by the sport’s diminishing popularity.

How bad has it become?

Bad enough for Atlanta Motor Speedway (or rather Speedway Motorsports, Inc.) to begin dismantling 17,000 seats so “low demand” race attendance will not look so horrible on television. All this downsizing at the track newly-minted-NASCAR-Hall-of-Famer Bill Elliott called “home” – as in “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” who scored five wins (and five poles) at AMS in 62 career starts.

If you can’t put fans in the stands, just remove the stands. Such drastic measures, in the “bottom line = finish line” view of NASCAR, are often necessary. That’s how Atlanta lost one of its two race dates (starting in 2011) and its choice Labor Day/late summer schedule slot (starting in 2014).

And the hits just keep on coming….

Consider last weekend’s Sprint Cup event at AMS. All eyes were on “the Peach State” as NASCAR rolled out its new rules package. Less horsepower and less downforce would mean better racing as straightway speeds decreased slightly in favor of higher speeds in the corners. Toss in a driver-adjustable track bar and suddenly, Atlanta Motor Speedway had the makings of a 190 miles-an-hour laboratory. Race No. 2 on the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule looked to be a great one….

Until Travis Kvapil had his No. 44 Team Xtreme Chevrolet stolen from a nearby hotel parking lot, a circumstance that caused the team to withdraw from Sunday’s race. This incident was, without a doubt, a most horrible occurrence, but the theft seemed almost minor when compared to the debacle of technical inspection prior to the first round of “knockout” qualifying.

Oh, yeah. That’s another piece of poor judgment from NASCAR, as we learned from first-round qualifying for the Daytona 500. At least we didn’t see wrecks and crumpled stock cars like we did during the opening knockout round for “The Great American Race.”

At Atlanta, we saw 13 cars fail to clear tech inspection and turn first-round laps. Those drivers failing to run against the clock constituted a “Who’s Who” of NASCAR Nation. The entire inspection/qualifying experience seemed like something culled from a bureaucratic nightmare – all red lights, red tape, and red faces.

Luckily only a handful of fans were present to witness the fun….

On the bright side, there were slightly more spectators present on a cold, damp Sunday to watch Jimmie Johnson win by a margin of almost two seconds over Kevin Harvick. If NASCAR still released attendance numbers, we’d actually know how many were there.

Judging by the empty seats seen on television, I understand why the sanctioning body sits on such statistics each week. The truth is sometimes hard to take….

And the truth is: Atlanta Motor Speedway is a tragic example of NASCAR’s shifting fortunes. Swapping race dates and dropping events has always been the excuse given for growth; moving into new markets and drawing new audiences is necessary for building a strong future.

But is such growth good when your future is built on the wreckage of legendary tracks with rich histories?

Granted much of the chaos surrounding last weekend’s Cup race had nothing to do directly with Atlanta Motor Speedway. To use an already-exhausted adage in 2015’s NASCAR schedule, last weekend at AMS was a “perfect storm” of bad weather, bad circumstances, and bad luck that resulted in poor decision-making on the part of NASCAR administration.

So teams who struggled to get though tech last week at Atlanta will suffer an assortment of P1 penalties at Las Vegas this week solely because NASCAR’s inspection process was too strict? Teams routinely push the rule book into all kinds of gray areas, but is that not part of the sport?

As Richard Petty once said, “It’s only cheating if you get caught.”

What wiggle room teams used to get from NASCAR has wiggled its way into obscurity. Such is the case when a league or sanctioning body wants to flex its bureaucratic muscles and show who the boss is.

The boss, as Atlanta Motor Speedway has seen over the past few seasons, is NASCAR.

Maybe SpongeBob SquarePants can make sense of all this mess now that he’s tied his boat to Brian France’s corporate dock. We’ll see come Kansas in May…. 

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Stock Car Gazette
Post-Race Recap: Joe Gibbs Racing at Atlanta
by Steve Langley, MotorSportsNews.Net staff photographer

Team Kapusta Racing to Make NASCAR Debut at Phoenix with Olé Energy Drink (MOORESVILLE, NC) - Team Kapusta Racing LLC is pleased to announce its partnership with Olé Energy Drink for its debut entry into the NASCAR XFINITY Series at ... - See more at:

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Report: NASCAR asking for $1 billion over 10 years for Cup sponsorship
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NASCAR is reportedly asking the next title sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series to pay significantly more than Nextel did when it took over for Winston.
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Qualifying was a debacle for the second week in a row, rain delayed the start of Sunday's race and Jeff Gordon once again managed to crash into a ...

Letter writer: Don't make a NASCAR track out of our back roads
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Let me tell you about Ducatis in the big city [“Leave Your Big-city Driving Habits at Home,” Feb. 18, Xpress]. The drivers “SMOKE YOU.” On the freeway ...

After Busch's accident at Daytona, Speedway Motorsports met with NASCAR and elected to add a 130 linear feet of protective barrier on the inside 
Questions & Attitude: What's that NASCAR left behind?
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Yes, and unfortunately, inside that steamer trunk is all the momentum NASCAR was carrying from the end of 2014. The Boys in the Corner Offices ...
Truex has been solid so far
Winston-Salem Journal
Martin Truex Jr. stands in his garage during a practice session for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, 
Martin Truex Jr. perseveres through pain to start strong
Bend Bulletin
It is the classic underdog story: Truex drives for Furniture Row Racing, a one-man show competing with shrinking resources against superpowers 

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Regan Smith still in No. 41 at Las Vegas
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NASCAR fantasy 2015: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
written by Anthony Kernich
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Using the noggin
Jimmie Johnson is again spearheading an effort to recognize groups that support education.

 With two top 10 finishes to begin the season, Martin Truex Jr. is off to a hot start and it's all because of his team. More | Driver stats

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NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon, who announced in January that this will be the final season of his illustrious Sprint Cup Series career, will be honored by Texas Motor Speedway, the city of Dallas and a Dallas sports great on Thursday, March 12, during a special public event at Klyde Warren Park in the Dallas Arts District.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend for its first stop on a three-race west coast swing – Sunday’s Kobalt 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Following Las Vegas, the series moves on to Phoenix and concludes its Pacific trip at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California before heading back east to Martinsville.

Excuse Brian Vickers if taking the green flag to start Sunday’s Las Vegas race seems as rewarding as a trip to victory lane.

When the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 on March 29, Chad Johnston is optimistic his team will have fully adjusted to the new technology NASCAR is using to monitor pit road.

hat has Kevin Harvick done at Phoenix? Quite literally, a lot, and it’s being celebrated by JR Motorsports with a creative, new video at and by Phoenix International Raceway with a special ticket package for its March race weekend.



Second And First

In an all-or-nothing world, Kevin Harvick may look like a driver who has nothing. But two second-place finishes in two races surely add up to something for Ryan McGee. Power Rankings » Marty & McGeeListen 

After career-best finish, Moffitt awaits next shot

Big Bill Excerpt 4: Saying Goodbye

Oh, the places Daytona 500 winning cars go

Ty Dillon gains valuable experience in Atlanta double-header

NASCAR Illustrated: Hang Ten from Atlanta