NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 7
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Alsco Uniforms 300
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 6
The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Bucked Up 200
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, March 5
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 201 miles (134 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)
Special Spotlight: Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Nominations Are Open
Nominations opened this week for The NASCAR Foundation’s 11th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, a recognition that honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of Betty Jane France, The NASCAR Foundation’s late founder and chairperson.
The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a NASCAR fan who is a dedicated volunteer working on behalf of children’s causes. Since its inception, the award has given $1.8 million in donations to charities representing 40 finalists, impacting the lives of 354,647 children in need.
The nomination process includes an independent selection committee of NASCAR industry leaders who help identify the nominees to be voted on by The NASCAR Foundation’s Board of Directors. The four finalists are ultimately selected by the Board and set forth to an online fan vote in the fall. Each finalist will be guaranteed a $25,000 donation to the children’s charity they represent, with the overall winner receiving a $100,000 donation.
Nominations will close on Friday, March 19, at midnight. The nomination form and award rules can be accessed online at NASCARfoundation.org/Award. Completed forms can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail.
NASCAR Cup Series
Different Winners Aplenty To Start The Season
The NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season has started off with three different winners in as many races with Michael McDowell (Daytona 500), Christopher Bell (Daytona Road Course) and William Byron (Homestead-Miami) all celebrating in Victory Lane. Now the chances for the premier series to see its fourth different winner are pretty good as it heads out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday, March 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Of the 50 seasons in the Modern Era (1972-2021), the NASCAR Cup Series has started the schedule with three different winners in the first three races 33 different times (66%); including 2021. If the series were to produce a fourth different winner this weekend it would be the 23rd different season in the Modern Era to start with four different winners through the first four races.
There are 13 different NASCAR national series Las Vegas Motor Speedway winners entered this weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series race. None of which have won yet this season.
Sunday’s event, the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, will be the 27th NASCAR Cup Series race held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The previous 26 series races have produced 14 different winners all-time, led by recently retired Jimmie Johnson with four victories (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010). Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in wins at Las Vegas with three victories (2014, 2016, 2018). Keselowski also won at Vegas in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2010.
Of the 14 all-time Cup Las Vegas winners, six are entered this weekend and four of the six have multiple wins; including defending race winner and Brad Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, who has grabbed the checkered flag the last two Spring visits to Sin City (2019, 2020). Logano also won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas in 2017.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick make up the rest of the quartet of Cup Vegas multiple winners entered this weekend. Truex earned his Victory Lane hardware at Las Vegas in the Spring race of 2017 and the Playoff race of 2019. While Harvick secured his two wins at Las Vegas in the Spring of 2015 and the Playoff race of 2018. Harvick also collected a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Las Vegas in 2004 and 2010.
Las Vegas native and Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver, Kyle Busch, is the only former Cup Las Vegas winner to grab victories in all three NASCAR national series. Busch scored his Cup win in the 2009 race; the only driver to win from the pole at Las Vegas in the series. He also has two victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2016, 2019). Plus, he has won the last three consecutive spring NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the 1.5-mile track (2018, 2019, 2020).
Kyle Busch’s brother, Kurt, also a fellow Las Vegas native, is the most recent NASCAR Cup Series winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway driving his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to Victory Lane in last season’s Playoff race. It was his first and only victory at his home track.
Richard Childress Racing teammates, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick, have each won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Dillon posted his Xfinity win in 2015 and his Camping World Truck win in 2010. Reddick captured his Xfinity win in 2019 and his Truck Series win in 2016.
Four more drivers have won in just the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas including Stewart-Haas Racing’s rookie, Chase Briscoe, who swept both Las Vegas NASCAR Xfinity Series races last season becoming the first driver to win consecutive races at the 1.5-mile track in the series. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ross Chastain collected his first career NASCAR national series victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Playoff race of 2018. Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson also won in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas in the Spring race of 2018. And JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won at Las Vegas in 2012 en route to his second consecutive Xfinity Series title (2011-2012).
Finally, Richard Petty Motorsport’s Erik Jones won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas in 2014.
Points Leader Denny Hamlin looking to achieve a couple of firsts at Las Vegas
Heading to Las Vegas this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin sits atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings looking to get his first win of 2021 and his first career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hamlin has yet to win this season, but has been in contention almost every week, and now holds a 20-point lead over Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in second in the driver standings. In three starts this year, Hamlin has put up two top fives and an average finish of 6.3.
Hamlin will look to keep the momentum going this Sunday at Las Vegas, a track he has made 18 series starts at posting three top fives and eight top 10s; including a best finish of third twice, most recently last September.
McDowell takes hot streak to Vegas
Front Row Motorsport’s driver and 2021 Daytona 500 champion, Michael McDowell, is having the best start to a season in his career. And now the 36-year-old, Glendale, Arizona native is taking his hot streak Las Vegas to try his luck. McDowell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers this season to finish in the top-10 in all three of the opening races of the year.
McDowell is currently fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, just 33 points back from Denny Hamlin in the standings lead. This season McDowell has leveled-up and it is showing, in the first three starts of the year he has finished first (Daytona 500), eighth (Daytona RC) and sixth (Homestead-Miami).
Now the 2021 standout is looking to keep the success going at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. McDowell has made 14 series starts at Las Vegas posting a best finish 18th back in 2017. He finished 36th in last season’s Las Vegas spring race and 21st in the Playoff event.
Byron adds his name to the postseason list
Last weekend Hendrick Motorsport’s driver William Byron grabbed his second NASCAR Cup Series career win (Daytona, Homestead) and as a result added his name to the list of drivers locked into the Playoffs for 2021; joining Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell.
Byron is currently 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings through three races. The North Carolina native has posted an average finish of 20.0 so far this season, making the win last weekend that much more important to his title hopes.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Byron has made six series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish (seventh) in 2019.
NASCAR Tests the Circuit of The Americas
For the first time at the Circuit of The Americas, three former NASCAR Cup Series champions – Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. – shook down the 20-turn, 3.41-mile-long course in stock cars as part of a Goodyear tire test in preparation for the inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix on May 23.
“The track’s fun,” said Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott. “It has a lot of character to it, I feel like. I’ve never been here, never seen it in person before today and really haven’t watched a ton of races here, so it’s really been a pretty steep learning curve for me, trying to piece together all the different parts of the track and understand where you need to be good and how to make it flow. I’m trying to learn, but it’s been fun. I hope people (fans) will come out and give it a chance. It’s a different type of racing.”
Elliott currently leads all active drivers in road course wins in the NASCAR Cup Series with five victories.
“One of the things about this track here in Austin, it’s got a couple of key action spots,” said Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski. “Turn 1 is designed as though a fan said, ‘how can I have the most calamity in that corner on the start?’ So, there’s a couple of things – first off, it’s up hill, which helps the car stop, so it encourages the driver to try to out-brake another driver, which is big on a restart or a start because all of the cars are already so close together. Second thing is, it’s really wide on entry, so it’s almost impossible to block because there’s just a lot more racetrack. And then, of course, the third part is it’s a super slow corner meaning you have to use a lot of brakes to get through there. So, like I said, almost like it was intentional – I’m sure it was intentional – to create some epic starts. I think you’ll see that here.”
Keselowski has yet to win on a road course in the series but has put up seven top-five finishes including finishing fifth at the Daytona Road Course just two weeks ago.
“I feel like this is kind of part Sonoma, part Watkins Glen,” said Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. “There’s some fast sections, some slow sections. It’s got the older asphalt, wearing tires out more like Sonoma, but it’s got the really high-speed straights and the really hard braking zone like Watkins Glen going down the backstretch. It’s a mix of both. It’s got a little bit of a blind corner, up-and-down elevation change like Sonoma. It’s a pretty unique place … It’s all about markers and points on the track and when you turn in and what gear you’re in and how much speed you’re carrying and finding the brake points and all those things. It takes over two minutes to get around here, so if you make a mistake, you’ve got to wait two minutes to correct it, and you can’t forget it when you come back around. It was interesting to do that and a lot of fun to do that.”
Truex is tied with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the second-most road course victories in the NASCAR Cup Series among active drivers with four each.
NASCAR Cup Series Etc.
Sunoco Rookie Update – Through first three races the NASCAR Cup Series season, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe has held the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead and following his 18th-place finish at Homestead-Miami he has extended his lead to nine points over Front Row Motorsport’s Anthony Alfredo in second.
Looking to this weekend, expect Briscoe to keep building on his early success. The 26-year-old will be making his series track debut at Las Vegas this weekend, but he has won the last two consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the track sweeping the races last season – the first driver in Xfinity history to win consecutive races at Las Vegas. While Alfredo has not garnered the same amount of success Briscoe has at the 1.5-mile track, he did make his Xfinity Series debut there last season and finished in the top-10 (eighth).
Las Vegas Raiders QB David Carr headlines Grand Marshals at Vegas – There will be quite the professional sports flair when the commands to start engines are given at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr headlines the trio as he will deliver the most famous words in motorsports just moments prior to the start of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. Carr’s command will top off a weekend that will see Buffalo Bills running back Antonio Williams announce engines for Friday’s Bucked Up 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Utah Jazz star forward Joe Ingles deliver the message for Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
“This will be such a thrill to have the chance to bring the NASCAR Cup Series cars to life,” Carr said. “I know there have been a long list on luminaries who have served in this role, and it’s pretty cool to join them. I’m sure it’s going to be exhilarating once those cars fire up.”
Carr joins rap star Pit Bull, TV star and comedian Kevin James and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as grand marshals for Cup races so far this season.
Spectators welcome but tickets going fast – The March 7 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is sold out. Due to a limited-capacity requirement imposed by the Southern Nevada Health District, the speedway has reached its allowable threshold and no longer can sell tickets to the NASCAR Cup Series event.
Tickets do remain for both the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on Saturday, March 6 as well as the Bucked Up 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, March 5.
“This is the first time I can ever remember being disappointed to announce a sellout,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “While we appreciate that Gov. Sisolak has provided sports and entertainment venues an opportunity to get fans back in the stands, we’re disappointed that the local health district has not allowed us to reach the 20-percent capacity recommended by the governor. Nonetheless, we know it will be three great days of racing for those who are able to attend, and we hope to welcome a full house in September for the South Point 400.”
The speedway estimates 12,500 fans will be in attendance for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. That number represents grandstand seating as well as suites and clubs.
Race fans still can get their speed fix on Friday and Saturday as good seats remain for both races. Saturday tickets are $29 and Friday tickets are $19. Kids 12 and under are free on both Friday and Saturday with a ticketed adult. Visit lvms.com for tickets, RV camping and race weekend information.
Thunderbirds to perform flyover at Las Vegas – The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the flyover for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 7.
The “America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will electrify the crowd with their signature “Delta” formation over the speedway at the end of the national anthem for the NASCAR Cup Series race.
“We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds take to the sky during the Pennzoil 400 pre-race ceremonies,” LVMS President Chris Powell said. “For both our fans in the stands as well as those tuning in from home, the sight of the Thunderbirds flying above the speedway will get us ready for the excitement of NASCAR racing.”
The Thunderbirds, stationed at Nellis Air Force Base located adjacent to the speedway, feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Created 68 years ago in 1953, the USAF Thunderbirds are the third-oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world. The Thunderbirds have performed at over 4,000 airshows worldwide, including more than a dozen times at LVMS, accumulating millions of miles in hundreds of different airframes over the course of their more than 54 years of service.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Another One: Myatt Snider gets first win at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Richard Childress Racing’s Myatt Snider got his first career victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, while JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson was left with another heartbreak at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Snider held off a hard-charging Tyler Reddick to win Saturday’s race during the second NASCAR overtime to become the second first-time winner of the 2021 season joining Ty Gibbs (Daytona RC).
For the third-straight race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Noah Gragson was so close to victory until there were only two laps to go and he was involved in an incident. Once the dust settled, Gragson finished 33rd.
Reddick’s No. 23 Chevrolet that crossed the finish line in second was disqualified for failing post-race inspection and a height requirement. The result was a 40th-place finish. With Reddick disqualified, Brandon Jones ended up finishing second, Daniel Hemric took third, Jeb Burton finished fourth and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.
Looking ahead to all the great action lined up this weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Alsco Uniforms 300 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Snider will start from the pole with Cindric next to him on the front row. Saturday’s race will be 300 miles and 200 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 45 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 90.
Viva Las Vegas Fast Facts
There have been 27 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and 17 different pole winners and 19 different race winners. Only six races in history have been won from the pole.
The inaugural race was on March 16, 1997 and won by Jeff Green from the pole position. Most recently, Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas on September 26, 2020 from the first starting spot.
Cole Custer holds the record for the youngest pole winner in 2018 at 20 years, seven months, 23 days. Mark Martin holds the record for the oldest pole winner in 1999 at 40 years, one month, 25 days.
Tyler Reddick became the youngest winner in 2019 at 23 years, eight months, three days and Martin also holds the record for the oldest race winner in 2011 at 52 years, one month, 24 days.
Kyle Busch holds the race record at 145.415 mph in 2016. He also holds the qualifying record from 2017 at 185.58 mph.
Joe Nemechek has run the most Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas (17). Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Martin and Cole Custer are all tied with two pole awards. Martin has the most wins at the track (four).
Justin Allgaier, Kevin Harvick and Martin are all tied for the most top fives (six) and Allgaier holds the record for the most top 10s (11).
Eleven races were won by drivers who started on the front row. Chevrolet has the most wins at the track with 13 but Ford is the most recent winner, sweeping both races in 2020 with Chase Briscoe.
Gragson heads to home track looking to rebound
Las Vegas native and JR Motorsport’s driver, Noah Gragson, is heading back to his roots this weekend looking to rebound after another heartbreak ending to last Saturday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It was the third consecutive race at the 1.5-mile oval that Gragson could have won. But, with two laps remaining and a big lead, Gragson got into the back of the No. 13 MBM Motorsports Toyota when the driver experienced a tire issue that sent him up the track. As a result, Gragson was relegated to a 33rd-place finish.
Now the 22-year-old has to regroup and no better place to find his focus than home. Gragson has never finished worse than sixth in the Xfinity Series at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In two starts in 2020, Gragson finished fourth and second. In all, at race tracks that are between one and two miles in length, he holds an average finish of 9.9 and has led 75 percent of his career total laps at those tracks.
Gragson has an average finish of 3.8 at Las Vegas and that number is the second-best of his Xfinity Series career so far at tracks that he’s been to more than once. The only track that he has a better average finish at is the Charlotte ROVAL (3.5).
All in on Allgaier
The numbers that Justin Allgaier has accumulated in his 13 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are extremely impressive.
Although he hasn’t been able to close the deal and get the win, the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet is consistently a favorite when the series heads to the Nevada track.
Allgaier’s first start at the track was in 2009 and he started 11th and finished eighth. In his 13 starts, he finished in the top five six times and has 11 top-10 finishes.
He’s completed 2,527 of 2,622 laps attempted, which is 96.4 percent of the laps and has led 111 total.
He has an average start of 8.3 and an average finish of 8.2. There was only one race in Allgaier’s history at Las Vegas that he did not finish and that was in 2019 due to an engine problem.
In 2011 and 2018, Allgaier finished runner-up and most recently, he finished fourth at the 1.5-mile track.
The start of Allgaier’s 2021 season has not been ideal and the veteran JR Motorsport’s driver is hoping that changes this weekend. He was involved in two incidents in the first three races of the season and only finished on the lead lap at the Daytona Road Course. He hasn’t finished better than 26th so far this season but if there’s a place for him to redeem himself, it could certainly be Las Vegas.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Homestead-Miami Speedway:
|Rank||Driver||Points||Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|1||Austin Cindric||147||1||2||7||In On Wins|
|2||Myatt Snider||118||1||0||5||In On Wins|
The NASCAR Xfinity Series 2021 season has started out with three different winners and two of them were first-timers and maybe a little bit unexpected to kick off the season. Austin Cindric continued his winning ways as the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, winning the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and securing his spot in the Playoffs.
Ty Gibbs went on to win at the Daytona Road Course in his first ever Xfinity Series start, adding his name to the history books. Gibbs’ win doesn’t guarantee his spot in the postseason however due to him only running a partial schedule this year.
Next, Myatt Snider won last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, securing his spot in the Playoffs and grabbing his first career win.
With the start of the season bringing new winners, the Playoff outlook has shuffled the driver standings. Although it’s only three races in, there are already a couple new faces in the top 12.
Jeremy Clements is sitting eighth right now in driver points. He has two top-10 finishes so far this season. Landon Cassill is sitting in 12th in the standings currently. Cassill hasn’t even run a full season in the Xfinity Series since 2014 and is already showing good potential in his No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet.
Daniel Hemric is in third in the standings, the highest ranked driver without a win. He’s kicked off 2021 on a new team, Joe Gibbs Racing, with really impressive numbers. He finished ninth in the opener and third in the last two races.
All three of Kaulig Racing’s drivers are in the top 12 in points right now. Their newest driver in the lineup, Jeb Burton, is in fourth with Justin Haley in sixth and AJ Allmendinger in 10th.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Rookie update: Ty Gibbs is still in the lead for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors with 50 points. Josh Berry has worked his way up to second in the standings with 41 points. Ryan Vargas has two awards to his name and is in third with 33 points.
Manufacturer update: Each OEM has a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series so far this season. Toyota is leading the manufacturer championship standings with 109 points while Chevrolet and Ford are tied with 107.
Dogecoin returning to NASCAR in Vegas: Stefan Parsons and BJ McLeod Motorsports announced that Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency company, will be the primary sponsor along with Springrates for Parsons on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The hood of Parson’s No. 99 Chevrolet will have the Dogecoin dog with the word “wow” on it.
Brandon Brown finds Vegas sponsor: Brandon Brown took to Twitter last week saying how much he dislikes blank cars on the racetrack and hoping a company would come through with sponsorship. On Tuesday, he announced that GreenTech Energy will be the primary sponsor for his No. 68 in Vegas.
Mike Harmon Racing partners with PORAC: Mike Harmon Racing is known for their support of law enforcement and that will continue this weekend at Las Vegas. The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) is California’s largest law enforcement associated and the largest statewide law enforcement association in the country. They are teaming up with Wolfpack Racing to sponsor the No. 47 of Kyle Weatherman.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Camping World steps up to fill sponsorship void in Vegas
With a single tweet Monday night, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis sent NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series teams’ graphics departments into high gear.
He simply said, “Which @NASCAR_Trucks are unsponsored this weekend? Respond here if you are and if you know of someone get their attention quick.”
And respond they did.
So far, more than five entries in Friday night’s Bucked Up 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will sport the familiar blue and yellow of Camping World including No. 2 Sheldon Creed; No. 3 Jordan Anderson; No. 9 Grant Enfinger; No. 24 Raphael Lessard; No. 33 Jesse Iwuji; and the No. 41 of Dawson Cram.
The Camping World sponsorship offers teams a sliding scale based on performance. If the truck wins with the Camping World paint scheme, it would increase the sponsorship payout.
This week’s sponsorship bonanza comes on the heels of an announcement made by Lemonis prior to the start of the season in Daytona that added $500,000 in bonus money and prizes for the Camping World Truck Series participants this year. That included a total of $50,000 ($25,000 driver bonus and $25,000 road crew bonus) that went to the No. 99 ThorSport Racing team of Ben Rhodes after taking the checkered flag in the season opener.
Where they will start
Series points leader, and 2017 Las Vegas race winner, Ben Rhodes will start on the pole for Friday night’s Bucked Up 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) by virtue of Metric Qualifying to determine starting order while we race under COVID-19 protocols.
Another former Vegas race winner, Grant Enfinger (2018 fall race), will start 18th. And multi-time Las Vegas race winners Kyle Busch (2018, 2019 and 2020 spring races) and Austin Hill (2019, 2020 fall races) will start much further back. Busch will be 29th while Hill starts 31st.
Sheldon Creed, who was the runner-up to Rhodes on the Daytona Road Course two weeks ago, will start alongside him on the front row. John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton and Christian Eckes will make up the remainder of the top five.
Rowdy returns to race at home
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend, making his season debut at his home track in his own No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
Busch has raced four times in a truck at Vegas – the first was in 2001, driving for Jack Roush. He finished ninth.
After a long hiatus, he returned in 2018 for this spring race…and won it. He then won the spring race in 2019 and again last year. He started on the pole in 2018 and 2019, and all the way from third in his other two races in the trucks.
This year, he will be starting in 29th due to the lineup matrix used to determine starting position while we race without qualifying due to COVID-19 protocols.
Busch has also found success in other series at Las Vegas. He has a win in the NASCAR Cup Series at the track (2009) and a pair of wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2016, 2019).
Ben Rhodes opens season with sweep
After thrice tallying one win in a season (2017, 2018, 2020), Ben Rhodes has come out of the chute on fire this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – sweeping the opening two races of the year on the pair of Daytona International Speedway configurations.
He narrowly edged out Cory Roper in the tri-oval during overtime on the superspeedway’s oval configuration in the season-opener, then took a triple-overtime victory over reigning series champion Sheldon Creed on the road course two weeks ago.
Rhodes’ first NASCAR national series win came on the 1.5-mile desert circuit (Las Vegas) in 2017, and he followed that up in 2018 with a win on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Overall at Las Vegas, Rhodes has a win, three top fives and five top 10s in his eight starts – meaning he’ll surely be a threat to continue his winning ways this season.
Austin Hill looks to rebound at Las Vegas
The start of the 2021 season hasn’t been exceptionally generous to Austin Hill, who finished 22nd on the oval and 33rd on the road course at Daytona International Speedway over the past two weeks. So, he’s definitely one driver that took the off-weekend to regroup before heading out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But he should be very happy that’s the next stop on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, as he won the most recent race there last September, and also won the same race a year prior.
In fact, four of Hill’s six career wins in the series have come at 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas – 2019, 2020; Homestead-Miami – 2019; Kansas – 2020). And in six races at Las Vegas, he has recorded a pair of wins as part of three top-five and four top-10 finishes.
Chandler Smith maintains early Sunoco Rookie of the Year lead
Chandler Smith holds an early lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the year standings following a pair of races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
Smith was the highest-finishing Sunoco Rookie contender in the Daytona Road Course race and now sits 15 points ahead of Carson Hocevar in second.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Smith finished 12th on the road course, while Hocevar was 14th. Chase Purdy was 22nd and Hailie Deegan placed 28th.
—- NASCAR —