In Las Vegas, words like "fast" and "huge" embrace many common comments, but this weekend, fast will be what it’s all about outside the glitzy strip.
The Kobalt Tools 400 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas will roar to life this Sunday, March 10 on the 1.5-mile tri-oval track with 14 degree banking.
Fans not in one of the 142,000 LVMS seats can view the Sunday action on FOX at 3 p.m. EST.
LVMS is an exciting venue that adds to downtown entertainment and is a large part of the motorsports complex on 1,200 acres located about 12 miles north of Las Vegas. An NHRA drag strip and a dirt track also operate on the property.
LVMS welcomes NASCAR this week.
The long NASCAR season is young going into the third of 36 total point races, but preparation is intense for teams and drivers. The next race often seems the most important, but the new Gen-6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car has added logistic, data and experience factors that are not customary. But teams and drivers adjust well. They will be working hard this week in the Nevada desert.
The LVMS website features this slogan: Fast cars, Fast city. That probably sums up loads of fun in Las Vegas, but for five top NASCAR drivers, the fun city is more about planning and performing on a fast racetrack.
NASCAR drivers Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle, with eager teams, are running strong early in 2013. They all shared their candid thoughts on race three in Vegas prior to any green flags.
Fans can sometimes glean energy from their words. From that, fans sometimes get a better take on this next race.
After struggling in 2012, Carl Edwards and team have returned to victory lane, erasing a 70-race win drought. Edwards had to instantly handle the emotional mixture of relief and jubilation, but he handled that well. Going forward he might want to practice his trademark back flips, as they are not all that easy to do on slanted tracks. And he may get another win soon.
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford)
“Since the test in Charlotte this offseason, the whole 99 team has been looking forward to the race in Vegas,” said Edwards.
"We feel that we have a very fast Aflac Ford Fusion and that all the Fords should be pretty tough there. We’re going to Las Vegas to make it two in a row. We feel like we can use the momentum we’ve got and the confidence we built there in Phoenix to go have great pit stops, qualify well and race hard all day."
A second championship is supposed to be harder to attain than the first one, but this NSCS trophy owner seems poised to contend in Penske Fords. He wants to deliver.
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
“I think there are small things we can do to make the racing even better than we’ve seen so far," Keselowksi said.
"I think you saw at the end of last week’s race at Phoenix, these cars can put on a great show. Jimmie (Johnson), Denny (Hamlin) and I were going at it tooth-and-nail. That’s the kind of show that we need to put on for the fans, one with passion and an all-out desire to win."
Hamlin seems to be able to stay in contention throughout long NASCAR seasons. This year he is off to a good start and he and his team could be a big factor later.
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
“Las Vegas is one place that this FedEx team has run pretty well at over the years, but has never really gotten the results we deserve,” Hamlin said.
"It’s a fast track with quite a bit of banking, and it’s hard to get your car just right. It will be the first race for these new cars on an intermediate track, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react when you get around another car. It’ll give us a chance to see how we stack up against some of the other teams early in the season, knowing there are a lot of mile-and-a-half tracks on our schedule. Hopefully we’ll be able to qualify near the front and be there at the end."
After securing the No. 2 spot at the end of last year’s Chase, Bowyer may have brought a repeat attitude to 2013 that could result in a top contender run.
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
“We tested this 5-Hour ENERGY Toyota in Charlotte back in January and we were so fast right off the truck that I told the crew, ‘We’re good! Let’s load it back up and call it a day.’" Bowyer said.
"We were fast as soon as we unloaded. I felt like we left off just where we did at the end of last season. Unfortunately they don’t always listen to me. (Laughs.) They made us stay there and try new things and we just kept working on it. I’m hoping that the same thing happens this weekend—unload fast and just keep fine tuning to get better for the race."
Greg Biffle has been a remarkable producer in his racing career, as he is the owner of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide championship trophies. He alone in this era can be the first NASCAR driver to own a precious hat trick of trophies if he captures the Sprint Cup championship in Homestead-Miami.
Biffle and his team often deliver top finishes and a win as well. He and his team remain proficient contenders.
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
“I’m jacked up about heading to Vegas,” Biffle said. “One, I love to gamble, and two, I love that racetrack. We run really well there. We’ve got the American Red Cross on the car this weekend and I just can’t wait to get there. It takes a lot of things to win at Vegas. Track position is key and you need to have the right pit stop at the end. We’ve been really close to winning in the Cup car before and hopefully this is it.”
Fans will get another winner with the green flag on race day and it just might be one of these fast guys who would love to talk the next race.
Plus, it’s Vegas!
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.