NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Las Vegas

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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: Boyd Gaming 300
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 3
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3:30 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: Stratosphere 200
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, March 2
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 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)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Kevin Harvick Earns Emotional Atlanta Win – 17 years After His First

Five times in the last six years, Kevin Harvick has dominated the Atlanta Motor Speedway Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race – leading 100 laps or more – only to watch another driver take the checkered flag. This year, it was his race, his trophy.

The former Monster Energy Series champion led a race-best 181 of the 325 laps to claim an emotional second victory at the track. His first win 17 years ago as a 25-year old rookie came only three weeks after he was tabbed to drive the late champion Dale Earnhardt’s legendary Chevrolet, which had been given a number change from “3” to “29.”

As he drove toward Victory Lane Sunday afternoon, Harvick saluted the crowd with three fingers – a sentimental second nod to Earnhardt and also personal affirmation of the hard work over so many years that went into this particular win.

Harvick will try to repeat the effort Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he won in 2015. He’s led 166 laps at Vegas since his championship season in 2014, but crashed out early last season.

Adding fuel to the Vegas motivation, Harvick’s victory at Atlanta was win number 99 in NASCAR’s three national series. He needs one more to join a very short list of triple-digit success stories that include only Richard Petty (200 Cup wins), Kyle Busch (183 over three series) and David Pearson (106 in Cup and Xfinity).

Three of a Kind for Truex

Defending Las Vegas winner and reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. holds a very specific distinction in Las Vegas – it is one of two venues (also Kentucky) where he swept all three race stages in 2017.

He’s the only Cup driver to accomplish the feat – anywhere – and Truex certainly wouldn’t mind channeling that dominant mojo this weekend. He’s currently ranked seventh in the points standings – 20 points behind leader Joey Logano – and his best showing thus far is a fifth-place earned Sunday in Atlanta. Interestingly, Truex was also ranked seventh last year when he used Vegas as a championship launch.

The track certainly proved to be a significant springboard for the entire 2017 season, when Truex recorded a career-best seven of his eight wins at 1.5-mile venues. It was the biggest haul for any single driver and certainly bodes well for him as the series moves West this week.

“No question we had some special moments in Las Vegas last year,” Truex said. “The victory was a confidence booster to our team. It not only took the pressure off for making the playoffs, but it also showed that we had some strength at the mile-and-a-half tracks.”

Logano Leads Championship Standings

Team Penske driver Joey Logano finds himself atop the championship standings for the first time since late in the 2016 season. He leads teammate Ryan Blaney by six points heading into Las Vegas, a track where he has not won previously.

He has, however, put together an impressive last few visits, finishing no worse than 12th and winning the pole at the track in 2014. He led 74 laps and was runner-up to his teammate Brad Keselowski there in 2016.

Cole Custer: Moving On Up

It’s a big week for 20-year-old Cole Custer, who will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Las Vegas for Rick Ware Racing.

The Californian will drive the No. 51 Ford Fusion that Justin Marks drove to a 12th-place finish in the Daytona 500 two weeks ago. Custer, who is running for the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing, won the 2017 Xfinity Series season finale at Homestead-Miami in November and is a two-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“This is a dream come true,” Custer said of his Monster Energy Series opportunity. “It’s going to be a new experience for me, but I feel that we can have a productive day by completing all the laps and seeing the checkered flag.”

Custer has raced twice previously at Las Vegas, finishing 11th in the Xfinity race last year and finishing third (and leading three laps) in the trucks in 2016.

Seven-time Ready for Primetime

Jimmie Johnson is the last driver to win consecutive races at Las Vegas – earning three straight trophies from 2005-2007 – and adding another in 2010 for good measure.

The seven-time champ is hopeful to reclaim those victorious ways as he currently negotiates an unfamiliar winless streak. It’s been 25 races since the 83-time winner last hoisted any hardware. And it’s been a rough start to the 2018 season with finishes of 38th (at Daytona) and 27th (at Atlanta). You have to go back to Martinsville Speedway last October to find his most recent top-20 finish (12th) and back four races earlier than that at Charlotte to find his last top-10 (seventh).

Johnson has four top-10 finishes in his last six Vegas starts, including a runner-up finish in 2012 and a third-place to the Penske duo of Keselowski and Logano in 2016. He was 11th last year.

Crowd Favorites

The NASCAR championship Busch brothers are a crowd pleaser in their hometown. Younger brother Kyle Busch – the 2015 series champion – has won a pair of pole positions (2008-09) and the 2009 Las Vegas race. He has two top-fives in his last four starts at LVMS and has led 117 laps in that time.

Older brother Kurt, the 2004 Monster Energy Series champion, has never won a Cup race at Las Vegas, but does own a pair of pole positions (2010 and 2016). His best finish in the race is third in 2005. It’s been a tougher stretch for him recently, with only two top-10s in the last 11 races (ninth place in 2011 and 2016).

Vegas Manufacturer Shuffle

The same make of car hasn’t won back-to-back races at Las Vegas since Jimmie Johnson’s triple victory haul from 2005 to 2007 in a Chevrolet. In fact, the track has dealt mostly fair deals – the winner’s podium alternating regularly between the Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota makes.

The last three races, for example, have been won by Harvick (then in a Chevrolet), Keselowski (Ford) and Truex (Toyota). Ford drivers have won four times in the last 10 years, Chevrolet drivers three times in that span, and Toyota three times.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Etc.:

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. is the early leader in the Rookie of the Year running. The 24-year-old Richard Petty Motorsports driver’s dramatic runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and a 32nd place at Atlanta last week have him ranked 14th overall in the Monster Energy Series standings. Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, 20, is ranked 24th with finishes of 23rd at Daytona and 18th at Atlanta.

Fantasy Central: Las Vegas: By the key Loop Data statistical categories listed below it should be no surprise Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson is one of the top choices to consider for your lineups this weekend at Las Vegas. The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champ leads five of the seven key loop data stats listed below. He also leads the series among active drivers in wins (four), top fives (six) and top 10s (nine). A solid run is exactly what Johnson needs right now, as he is currently 35th in points.
Statistical Categories: Leaders Loop Data
Driver Rating Jimmie Johnson 112.0
Average Running Position Chase Elliott 8.893
Laps Led Jimmie Johnson 582 laps (16.7 %)
Laps In The Top 15 Jimmie Johnson 76.3% (2,666 laps)
Fastest Laps Run Jimmie Johnson 445 laps (12.7%)
Green Flag Passes Jamie McMurray 903
Quality Passes Jimmie Johnson 496
Green Flag Speed Chase Elliott 172.858 mph
* The above stats are based on Loop Data from 2005 – 2017

#NASCARGoesWest: Las Vegas marks the start of the three-race west coast swing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The haulers will go from Las Vegas to ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, and then on to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, to wrap up the road trip. 13 different drivers who have made Monster Energy Series starts recorded Nevada as their home state. Kurt and Kyle Busch are the only two drivers on the entry list this weekend who hail from the “Silver State.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Las Vegas Riding Longest Current Different Winners Streak in Series

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is currently riding a hot streak of nine different NASCAR Xfinity Series winners in the last nine races, dating back to 2009 – Greg Biffle (2009), Kevin Harvick (2010), Mark Martin (2011), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2012), Sam Hornish Jr. (2013), Brad Keselowski (2014), Austin Dillon (2015), Kyle Busch (2016) and Joey Logano (2017).

The list of winners is currently the longest different winners streak in the series. The tracks with similar current streaks of five or more different winners are Michigan (8), Road America (8), Dover (7), Daytona (6), Homestead-Miami (6), Richmond (6) and Mid-Ohio (5).

With such a dynamic streak hanging in the balance this weekend, the question is – Will we see a 10th different winner?

There is a solid chance the different winner streak continues at Las Vegas this weekend, but it’s not set in stone because both former winners in the streak, Kyle Busch and 2018 Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon, are entered this weekend.

Busch leads the series in wins with an impressive 91 victories. He has made 13 series starts at Las Vegas, posting one win, four top fives and five top 10s.

Dillon has made five series starts at Las Vegas, posting one win, three top fives and five top 10s. He has never finished worse than seventh at LVMS in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Familiar Position: Elliott Sadler Takes Points Lead Heading to Vegas

For JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler, standing atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship points is something he has become quite familiar with. The veteran from Emporia, Virginia, was the points leader for all but two weeks of the regular season last year, and in the process, Sadler took home the first NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship.

Ultimately, Sadler finished as runner-up in the 2017 championship, his fourth runner-up finish in the last seven seasons. With 2017 in his rearview mirror, Sadler has retaken the standings lead after posting a second-place finish at Daytona and a fifth-place finish at Atlanta to start 2018. He is now four points ahead of his JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick (second) in the standings.

Sadler’s standings leading dominance last season began after Atlanta when he rallied off a streak of eight top 10s starting at the famed 1.54-mile track in Georgia. This season, Sadler hopes to continue his momentum of two top-five finishes to start the season at Las Vegas this weekend. Sadler has made 11 series starts at Vegas, posting two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 11.5.

Elliott Sadler (No. 1) will be joined by his JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier (No. 7), Michael Annett (No. 5) and Tyler Reddick (No. 9) in an effort to bring the organization its first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Bounce Back: Christopher Bell’s Standings Ascension Didn’t Take Long

After a rough start to the 2018 season at Daytona, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell answered with a solid top-five finish at Atlanta, and a jump of 25 positions in the driver championship standings.

The beginning to Bell’s NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time career didn’t go as planned. The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion came to Daytona for the Xfinity Series season-opener with wind in his sails and a national series championship under his belt, but unfortunately, he only lasted 11 laps in the race before being caught in an incident that relegated him to a 39th-place finish. As a result, he was ranked 31st in the driver standings heading to Atlanta.

Off the truck at Atlanta, Bell was quick. He won the pole and went on to lead 12 laps in the race and finish third – the highest among series title contenders. The complete turnaround for Bell now has him ranked sixth in the standings as the series heads out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This weekend will be Bell’s series track debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, though the rookie does have some experience at the 1.5-mile track. He has made three NCWTS starts at LVMS, posting two top fives; including a runner-up finish last season.

Xfinity Series’ Nevada Natives Return to Las Vegas

This weekend in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the Boyd Gaming 300, fans will have the opportunity to see two Nevada natives, Kyle Busch (Las Vegas) and Spencer Gallagher (Las Vegas) compete for the win.

Kyle Busch will be making his series season debut this weekend driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips. Busch has made 13 series starts at Las Vegas posting two poles, one win (2016 from the pole), four top fives and an average finish of 16.0.

Kyle Busch is the most successful driver to come out of Nevada, having won driver championships in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (2015) and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2009). Plus, he has the second-most NASCAR national series wins behind Richard Petty (200 wins) with 183 victories (43 MENCS; 91 NXS; 49 NCWTS).

The latest driver from Nevada to burst on the NASCAR scene is GMS Racing’s Spencer Gallagher, driver of the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Gallagher just kicked off his sophomore season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and did so in impressive fashion, finishing sixth at Daytona and 14th last weekend at Atlanta. Now the 28-year-old is fifth in the championship standings, just 22 points back from the standings lead.

Gallagher made his series track debut at Las Vegas last season, starting 24th and finished 23rd while completing all 200 laps.

In total, 26 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Nevada. Of those 26 Nevada drivers only four have won a NASCAR national series race: Kyle Busch (183 NASCAR national series wins), Kurt Busch (38), Brendan Gaughan (10) and Noah Gragson (1).

Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s Alliance With Stewart-Haas Racing Is Already Bearing Fruit

In just the second race after forming an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing during the NASCAR Xfinity Series offseason, Biagi-DenBeste Racing is already tasting the fruits of victory in 2018 thanks to Kevin Harvick, who drove the No. 98 Ford Mustang to the win last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This marked the first win for Biagi-DenBeste Racing on a 1.5-mile speedway.

The alliance between the two organizations has the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang team with driver Cole Custer and crew chief Jeff Meendering working with the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Ford Mustang team led by crew chief Richard Boswell II and multiple drivers like Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola. The No. 00 team will run the full schedule, while the No. 98 is part-time this season.

“Racing is our passion and to ensure our presence in this sport for years to come, it made sense to partner with an established team that also fields entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said Fred Biagi, co-owner of Biagi-DenBeste Racing.

The win last weekend was the fourth series victory for Biagi-DenBeste Racing. The team’s previous three wins were won by Mike Wallace (Daytona, 2004) and Aric Almirola (Daytona, 2016 and Talladega, 2017).

The No. 98 is not entered this weekend at Las Vegas, but make sure to watch the No. 00 SHR Ford. Cole Custer made his series track debut at Las Vegas last season, starting 20th and finishing 11th.

Team Penske Has Found Recent Success In Las Vegas

In the last six NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Penske has taken three different drivers to Victory Lane, and this weekend the ‘Captain,’ Roger Penske, is looking to make it four different winners in the last seven races with driver Ryan Blaney piloting the flagship No. 22 Ford Mustang this Saturday, March 3 in the Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Team Penske is tied with Richard Childress Racing for second on the all-time series wins list at Las Vegas with three victories each. Team Penske’s first win at Las Vegas was in 2013 with driver Sam Hornish Jr., the second came the following season with driver Brad Keselowski (2014) and the third win was last season with driver Joey Logano (2017).

This weekend, rising star Ryan Blaney has been tapped to drive the No. 22. Blaney will be working with crew chief Brian Wilson at Las Vegas. Blaney has made only one series start at Las Vegas in 2015, when he started fourth and finished second.

The No. 22 Team Penske Ford team is competing for the owners’ championship this season and is currently seventh in the owner standings, 22 points behind the standings lead.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Etc.:

West Coasters Stoked About #NASCARGoesWest: This season, nine drivers who have made starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series have their home states located out west. The series will spend the next three weekends out west in Las Vegas, Phoenix and California. Here are the nine west coast drivers of 2018: JJ Yeley (Phoenix, AZ), Cole Custer (Ladera Ranch, CA), Dylan Lupton (Sacramento, CA), Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA), Ryan Reed (Bakersfield, CA), Tyler Reddick (Corning, CA), Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV), Spencer Gallagher (Las Vegas, NV).

Standings Movers & Groovers: Three drivers made big strides in the championships standings this past weekend at Atlanta – Christopher Bell left Daytona 31st in points and following Atlanta he had jumped 25 positions to sixth; Austin Cindric left Daytona 32nd in the series points and following Atlanta had moved up 18 positions to 14th; Justin Allgaier left Daytona 22nd in points and following Atlanta had bounced up 15 positions to seventh in the standings.

Sunoco Rookies Update: Just two races into the season and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings are already looking like it will be a fierce battle to the end to decide this season’s winner. Following Atlanta, Tyler Reddick (80 points) continues to hold the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead with a 27-point cushion over second-place Christopher Bell (53 points); followed by Kaz Grala (47), Austin Cindric (38), Alex Labbe (32), Vinnie Miller (23), Spencer Boyd (20), Chad Finchum (11), Matt Mills (1) and Josh Bilicki (0).

Debonair Debuts: This past weekend at Atlanta, John Hunter Nemechek etched his name alongside just 21 other drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to finish in the top-four in their series debut. Nemechek is the second driver this season to accomplish the feat, joining Kaz Grala who also finished fourth at Daytona in the season-opener. Only five drivers have won in their Xfinity Series debut: Dale Earnhardt (Daytona, 1982), Joe Ruttman (Dover, 1982), Ricky Rudd (Dover, 1983), Terry Labonte (Charlotte, 1985) and Las Vegas, Nevada native Kurt Busch (Texas, 2006).

Double Dippers: This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Boyd Gaming 300 will be five drivers that have elected to run for championships in other series. From the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Ryan Blaney (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) and Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet); from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is Joe Nemechek (No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Xfinity Quick Facts:
Xfinity Races: 21
Pole Winners: 15 – (2017 Pole Winner: Kyle Busch)
Youngest Pole Winner: Ty Dillon (03/08/2014 – 22 years, 0 months, 9 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Mark Martin (03/06/1999 – 40 years, 1 months, 25 days)
Race Winners: 15 – (2017 Race Winner: Joey Logano)
Youngest Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr (03/10/2012 – 24 years, 5 months, 8 days)
Oldest Winner: Mark Martin (03/05/2011 – 52 years, 1 months, 24 days)
Races Won from the Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 5
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Kyle Busch (03/05/2016)
Race Record: Kyle Busch 145.415 mph (03/05/2016)
Qualifying Record: Brad Keselowski 186.220 mph – Round 1 (03/11/2017)
Race Format – Stages 1 & 2: 45 Laps (each); Final Stage: 110 Laps

Xfinity Loop Leaders (2005-2017): Las Vegas
Driver Rating: Joey Logano (140.7)
Average Running Position: Joey Logano (2.545)
Fastest Laps Run: Kevin Harvick (86)
Laps in the Top 15: Elliott Sadler (1,540, 96.3%)
Laps Led: Kevin Harvick (257, 18.1%)
Green Flag Passes: JJ Yeley (406)
Quality Passes: Justin Allgaier (304)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Viva Las Vegas

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series joins the annual #NASCARGoesWest campaign for the first time as the haulers pull into Las Vegas Motor Speedway to put on a show under the lights Friday night (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

And that’s not the only first this season for the series in Las Vegas.

This weekend marks the first time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has raced alongside the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. All of the series’ previous 21 races were run as “standalones” in the fall.

That leads us to our next first – this will be the first “spring” race for the trucks in Las Vegas.

And finally, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will visit the “City of Lights” twice in a season for the first time. Their return trip in September will mark the second race of the 2018 series Playoffs.

Rhodes Looking to Roll Doubles

Ben Rhodes earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory last year at Las Vegas in thrilling fashion – holding off eventual series champion Christopher Bell with a block on the apron following a late race restart.

Now Rhodes returns to Las Vegas looking to win his second in a row at the 1.5-mile track.

The driver of the No. 42 Ford for ThorSport Racing has made just two starts at Las Vegas, finishing 12th in his first visit to the desert before winning in 2017.

He’s looking to become just the third driver to win multiple races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – and it hasn’t been done for a decade. Jack Sprague (1996 and 1998) and Mike Skinner (2006 and 2008) are the only drivers to have visited Victory Lane more than once in the 21 races held so far in Las Vegas.

Driving for a Dozen Different Winners In A Row

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series could see its 12th different winner in a row at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.

The streak started with Travis Kvapil’s win in 2007 and carried on through Ben Rhodes’ checkered flag last year.

Three drivers from that streak are entered in the race Friday night – Kvapil, Johnny Sauter (2009 win) and Rhodes. And as noted above, there are only two drivers who have won multiple races at the 1.5-mile track located just outside the neon lights of Vegas – Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner. Kvapil, Sauter and Rhodes look to add their names to that list.

Below is the list of different winners over the last 11 races:
2007 – Travis Kvapil
2008 – Mike Skinner
2009 – Johnny Sauter
2010 – Austin Dillon
2011 – Ron Hornaday Jr.
2012 – Nelson Piquet Jr.
2013 – Timothy Peters
2014 – Erik Jones
2015 – John Wes Townley
2016 – Tyler Reddick
2017 – Ben Rhodes

Going for the Sweep at Home

Kyle Busch is making the most of his visit to his hometown of Las Vegas as he’ll be racing in all three races in the first NASCAR national series triple-header at the speedway next door to “The Bullring,” where he got his start in racing.

He’ll race the No. 51 Toyota for his namesake team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, on Friday night. Saturday and Sunday, he’ll compete in the familiar No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Friday’s race will mark just the second Camping World Truck Series race for Busch at Las Vegas. His only other start at the track in a truck was in 2001, when he started third and finished ninth.

Busch holds checkered flags at Las Vegas in the Xfinity Series (2016) and in the Monster Energy Series (2009) and is looking to complete the collection with his first Vegas Victory Lane in trucks.

Crafton on a Mission

Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton leads all active drivers in numerous categories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – except for the one that matters most to him…wins.

His 17 races, six top fives and 10 top 10s under the neon lights are head and shoulders above any of his other active peers. But his attempts at capturing the checkered flag have fallen just short, as he has finished second three-times at the 1.5-mile track.

The driver of the No. 88 Ford for ThorSport Racing has put together top-10 finishes in his last four races in Las Vegas. His starting positions at the track have also been impressive. He has started inside the top 10 in each of the last nine races, including from the pole in 2015.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.:

Stage Lengths Updated for Las Vegas: Following fuel mileage learnings from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR updated the stage lengths for Friday night’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The stages will now end on Lap 30, Lap 60 and Lap 134.

No(ah) Place Like Home: Noah Gragson is one of just four drivers with NASCAR national series wins who list Nevada as their home state. The 19-year-old from Las Vegas won his first race at Martinsville last year during his Sunoco Rookie campaign. He has one start at his home track, a 13th-place effort last year. The other Nevada natives with national series wins? His truck owner Kyle Busch (wins in all three series), Kurt Busch (wins in all three series) and Brendan Gaughan (wins in NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series).

OEM Roulette in Vegas Victory Lane: Manufacturer parity at Las Vegas has been on display at Las Vegas as of late. A Chevrolet won in 2015 (John Wes Townley). A Ford in 2016 (Tyler Reddick). And a Toyota went to Victory Lane last year (Ben Rhodes). Adding to the mystery about who could win on Friday night is a look at this year’s winners. Thus far in 2018, a Chevrolet won at Daytona (Johnny Sauter) and a Toyota crossed the line first at Atlanta (Brett Moffitt). ThorSport Racing, now driving Fords, will try to keep the rotation alive as last year’s race winner pilots the No. 41 for the team. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Myatt Snider (No. 13) and veteran drivers Matt Crafton (No. 88) and Grant Enfinger (No. 98) will round out the team’s lineup with the “Blue Oval.”

Making his Mark: Justin Marks is entered in this weekend’s race in the No. 54 Toyota for DGR-Crosley. The 36-year-old, who calls California home, has had one of the most interesting starts in the garage to 2018. He started off the year by nearly summiting Aconcagua in the Andes Mountains (reaching 21,900 feet before a storm ended his team’s ascent), followed that up by competing in IMSA’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and then drove to a 12th-place finish in the Daytona 500. This weekend marks his second visit to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a truck. In 2008 he finished 29th.


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