CP MOTORSPORTS: KOBALT TOOLS 400 NOTEBOOK, LAS VEGAS
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK -
BACK TO FRONT - An incident Saturday during the final practice for today's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway means Jeff Gordon will drop from the pole position to the back of the field just prior to the start of the racce. Gordon was caught up in an incident which forced his team to roll out a backup car with NASCAR approval. Gordon did not make a statement to the media concerning the incident. He was clearly concerning the incident.
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK -
PRACTICE, QUALIFYING AND RACE RESULTS POSTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
JEFF GORDON - POLE WINNER KOBALT 400
As the sun set over Las Vegas Motor Speedway Jeff Gordon got exaclty what he wanted – the pole for the Kobalt 400.
The pole, his first at the 1.5 mile speedway, was a definite exciting moment for the retiring driver and also the faster eve r qualifying run in LVMS history – 27.738 seconds, 194.679 mph.
“What a turnaround from last week,” Gordon exclaimed. “I’m just so proud of this team and keeping their heads up. Last week was a tough one, and this is a great, great way to start out weekend here in Las Vegas.”
Watching the competition Gordon knew he was going to have to let his ability and the car's ability hang out.
“You’ve got to be fully committed and just go for it. So, I drove it down into (Turn) 1; I may have come off of it just a tiny bit, but it wasn’t much at all. And it stuck so good, I was like okay. Do I run wide open through (Turns) 3 and 4? I don’t know. It was real close. There was a lot of wide-open throttle there. It was fun. What an awesome 3M Chevrolet.
Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top ten.
Thinking back on hiss Logano feels there was something he might have done which would have topped Gordon's effort.
“What did Jeff run? Does anyone know what he ran? He ran a 73 and I ran like a 78 right? That is just a little bit” said Logano. “I think I left a little bit out in one and two, maybe just a tad. In three and four it felt like we got all of it. The car got a little free which may have hurt a little on momentum back to the line. Between those two things that may have been enough. Overall I felt it was a pretty good lap. Coming across the line I knew it was going to be good. If it wasn’t first it was going to be really close and obviously it was really close. Jeff definitely laid a good one down.”
While Kenseth, the top Toyota driver, felt his final qualifying lap was good he knew it wasn't good enough for the pole.
"The track gained a lot of grip, which I guess is to be expected,” said Kenseth. “It's really fast. They took a little bit of downforce off the cars, but not nearly as much as the power they took away, so your mid-corner speeds are just way, way up. I thought I got a good lap. I knew I missed (Turn) 3 a little bit there. We just got a little too tight, but overall I thought we got three good laps and I thought I got everything I could out of the car there that last run and we ended up with a decent spot."
Drivers getting into the Kobalt 400 by owners points were David Gilliland, Cole Whitt, Joash Wise, JJ Yeley Jeb Burton, also the only rookie contender in the event, Landon Cassill and Brendan Gaughn.
Five drivers failed to make the race – Mike Bliss, Reedd Soreson, Travis Kvapil, Mike Wallace and Matt Dibenedetto.
CT MOTORSPORTS QUESTION: WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE ON YOUR QUALIFYING LAP TO BEAT JEFF GORDON? “What did Jeff run? Does anyone know what he ran? He ran a 73 and I ran like a 78 right? That is just a little bit. Ha, one person picked up on it. I think I left a little bit out in one and two, maybe just a tad. In three and four it felt like we got all of it. The car got a little free which may have hurt a little on momentum back to the line. Between those two things that may have been enough. Overall I felt it was a pretty good lap. Coming across the line I knew it was going to be good. If it wasn’t first it was going to be really close and obviously it was really close. Jeff definitely laid a good one down.”
CP MOTORSPORTS QUESTION: IF YOU WIN ON SUNDAY, THIS COULD BE THE MOST STELLAR MOMENT FOR YOU AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. BUT SINCE IT’S NOT SUNDAY YET, WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST STELLAR MOMENT FOR YOU AT THIS RACE TRACK TO THIS DATE? “Well, we won here in 2001. That’s been way too long. Yeah, I’d like to have a more recent memory of a win. Unfortunately I get reminded more about hitting the wall on the back straightaway than I do about that win. When we first started coming here, it was a really tough race track to compete on and win at. So that win in 2001 meant a lot to me because it was a personal hill to climb and challenge, as well as a team challenge. I didn’t feel like I was doing all the right things to get us to Victory Lane; not so much team and the car, and we won that race in ’01 and that was a big moment. One of my big goals this year is to win at Kentucky because I want to check off every track on the circuit and to me, that win in ’01 was a big checkmark because I know how difficult it is to win here. Obviously it’s difficult; I haven’t done it since 2001. So, it’s a tough place and I’m very proud to have that win.”
Have you ever had a backflip go wrong? "Not on television – I've not screwed it up, so that's been good. I know there a lot of folks in the booth and a lot of folks up there with their cameras that want to get that on tape and eventually I'm sure I will fall down. But as long as I only do the backflip when I win, then I'm a guy laying on the ground hurting, but I'll still be a winner."
CTPMotorsports Question - Did you feel different putting your firesuit on today to return to the track? "Absolutely. Another good question. I didn't even think about it until you just said that, but yeah. I definitely feel – the first two times I've put this suit on it's been for photoshoots or commercials or media and today it's to actually use it and it felt a little better zipping it up today than it did the first two times because it's here. It's real and I can't wait to get in that car here in a few minutes."
CP MOTORSPORTS QUESTION: DID ATLANTA PROVE YOU CAN BE A SPRINT CUP DRIVER? “Yeah, definitely. Ty Norris and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing have been hugely supportive in my career. Since 2011 they have given me a place to call home and every race, no matter where we are at, if I am in their car or Jay’s car, Ty Norris always come up to me and reminds me that I belong out here and this is my opportunity. He tells me to race like I belong, give them respect but don’t let them take advantage of me. That is what I really tried to do in Atlanta knowing I was in a really well funded and good equipment. Last week did help prove that I belong out there.”
-Nationwide is continuing its long-time relationship with Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE:TRK), renewing its status as the official insurance company of Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway through 2017.
“Nationwide’s original partnership with Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) in 1999 marked the beginning of our sponsorship efforts within NASCAR,” said Matt Jauchius, Nationwide chief marketing officer. “We are extremely proud of the relationship we have with SMI and look forward to enhancing our branding and activation efforts at the SMI tracks over the next three years.”
In addition to its partnership with Charlotte and Bristol Motor Speedways, Nationwide will feature at-track infield hospitality for their business partners at four SMI NASCAR event weekends throughout the 2015 race season. The new Nationwide mobile hospitality unit will be activated at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 6-8, Charlotte Motor Speedway May 15-24, Kentucky Speedway July 9-11 and Bristol Motor Speedway August 19-22.
“For 16 years, Speedway Motorsports has built a relationship with Nationwide that has grown stronger, with both companies taking great pride in providing the best experience for their customers,” said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “We look forward to continuing that tradition.”
“Nationwide is a nationally-recognized brand with a diverse portfolio of sports marketing initiatives,” said Smith. “We are proud that they continue to choose Speedway Motorsports as a partner to help achieve their goals.”
Nationwide’s rich history with SMI has included amenities for fans like “On Your Side” information guides, transportation services, pit stop hospitality areas and more. The relationship is also highlighted in Nationwide’s new “It Takes a Nation” advertising campaign, tying in all of its partners, including Hendrick Motorsports.
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports:
“Our relationship with Kurt Busch remains unchanged. He remains suspended, and we will continue to monitor all aspects of this situation.”
NASCAR has not moved.
Even though the Attorney General's offive in Delaware reported there was insufficient evidence to press changes against Kurt Busch NASCAR has announced they will not change the agreement with the driver which would allow his return as a driver.
"NASCAR is aware of the Delaware Department of Justice announcement today regarding driver Kurt Busch. As we disclosed Monday, he has accepted the terms and conditions of a reinstatement program and is actively participating in the program. Kurt Busch’s eligibility for reinstatement will continue to be governed by that program and the NASCAR Rule Book, though the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges certainly removes a significant impediment to his reinstatement.”
Busch must still comply with the ruling of the Family Judge in New Kent County, De.
"I am grateful that the prosecutors in Delaware listened, carefully considered the evidence, and after a thorough investigation decided to not file criminal charges against me," Busch said in a statement. "I wish to thank my family, friends, fans, and race team who stood by me throughout this nightmare with their unwavering support.
"Thanks also goes to my legal team for making sure that the truth got out and was fully provided to the prosecutors. As I have said from the beginning, I did not commit domestic abuse. I look forward to being back in racing as soon as possible and moving on with my life."
STEWART/HAAS RACING; PRE LAS VEGAS
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You got married in Las Vegas, you have won Xfinity Series races in Las Vegas and, most recently, celebrated a Sprint Cup championship in Las Vegas. Does Las Vegas have a special meaning to you? “I have raced there for a long time, but I don’t know that it has that special meaning other than the fact that we got married out there. It is different this year. This will probably be the first year ever that DeLana hasn’t gone. Usually, we eat at the same restaurant, we go to the same places, but with the West Coast swing the way it is this year and (son) Keelan, they are going to stay home. We will fly back and forth because we have to test on the Wednesday after the race. It’s definitely been a good racetrack for me. It’s still a place where I have a lot of family and friends and people I enjoy. It’s a busy weekend but, all-in-all, it’s still a fun place to go.”
Did you race around Las Vegas in your early days on the West Coast? “I did. We never raced at the big track until we got to about ’97, ’98. But we always raced at what was previously – it wasn’t called ‘The Bullring,’ it was the – ‘Little Las Vegas Track’ that had really bad lights. Other than that, it was a fun racetrack to race on, and we raced our Southwest Tour cars and Late Models over there.”
What is your biggest memory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway? “The biggest memory at the big track – gosh it’s been so long ago. Probably ’98, when we won the championship in the Winston West Series at the time, that was pretty neat. We have won some different races there in the Xfinity Series but never on Sunday. It is definitely one of those places that you want to mark off the list.”
How big would a win at Las Vegas this Sunday be? “I think, right now you want to win as early as you can in the season. The first two weeks have gone really well. I think to win at a racetrack that we haven’t won at before would definitely be something. I think we are all looking forward to the challenge.”
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You finished 16th at Atlanta and this week the Sprint Cup teams head to Las Vegas, another 1.5-mile track. Talk about your run last week and your outlook for the weekend ahead. “It’s always nice to start well because it seems like you spend the whole year catching up if you don’t. And it seems like, if you have a good start, then it’s so much easier to keep it there. I think so far the GoDaddy team has done a good job of giving me cars that feel comfortable. I feel like we made a lot of progress as a team last weekend in Atlanta and hopefully that will carry over to Las Vegas.”
How would you assess the start of the 2015 season thus far? “I think so far, so good. As I said in all of our media availabilities before we ever hit the track this year, it is our unrealized potential that is exciting to me. It is my fourth year in stock cars and my third year in (Sprint) Cup. It’s Daniel’s (Knost, crew chief) sixth year in NASCAR and his second year as a crew chief. We don’t have a ton of experience and you would think that there is only ‘up’ to go. The potential of where we could end up and where we can get to is encouraging.”
DANIEL KNOST, Crew Chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Coming off a solid run at Atlanta, is there anything you learned last weekend that will transfer to this week in Las Vegas? “I hope that some of the things we did last weekend will translate to Las Vegas. I think that (Las Vegas) is a little bit different. There’s a really rough section in turn one that is very difficult to manage, and then (turns) three and four are a lot smoother, whereas Atlanta is kind of rough the whole way around. The corners are a lot more separate at Las Vegas than they are at Atlanta and I actually think the bumps are significantly more severe in turn one at Las Vegas. It’s kind of like you have to mitigate two ends of the track that are a lot more different than you do at Atlanta. I’m not sure where we need to fall in balancing the two of those, but I thought we did a good job of diagnosing the things she was feeling and coming up with solutions that fixed those issues at Atlanta. I suspect we’ll have some of the same general issues this week just because of the rough sections of Las Vegas. I don’t think drive off (the corner) is as big of a deal at Las Vegas, but definitely with the dirt in the desert it can be. We’ve got some ideas on how to address those issues and hopefully those are things that will translate. One of the biggest differences going into this weekend is that they’ve changed the tires for Las Vegas this year, so we’re going to have to figure out where we need to set the tires for the new combination. At Atlanta, we had run on those tires for several years, so we had that part sorted out.”
TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is your outlook for this weekend’s race at Las Vegas? “It’s no different at Las Vegas than anywhere else. We have to get our Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy to rotate through the corner, but still stay tight enough on entry and exit. There’s no unique challenges there. The track is really smooth and that lets you work on the attitude of our car, and that’s a luxury we have there that we don’t necessarily always get everywhere else because every track has its unique set of bumps. Vegas has bumps too, but for the most part, it’s so smooth that you can really fine-tune the attitude of the car.”
What are your thoughts on the start of the schedule with spending three weeks on the West Coast? “I actually like being out on the West Coast for three weeks. I think it will be fun. We’re getting pretty busy in the schedule at this point, but my plans are actually to stay out there. It gives us an opportunity to stay out there a little longer than what we normally have rather than going back and forth. So I’m going to enjoy my time out there.”
What is the key to being successful at Las Vegas? “You know, there’s really no key to it. It’s just like anywhere else you go. You just have to have a well-balanced car. It seems like track position is really, really key there, but as long as you can get your car driving well and stay ahead of it, it seems like as the day changes, or the longer the day goes, the more the track changes and the more you have to stay up with it. You just can’t have any mistakes there because you cannot afford to lose track position, and you have to be able to stay up with the changing track conditions as the day goes on.”
What did it mean to finally get that win at Las Vegas, particularly after coming so close on several occasions? “I was so glad to finally win one at Las Vegas. We were so close in 2011 and had a dominant car. That’s a race we should’ve won. Winning in this series is hard enough as it is, and when you have a race where you’re able to do pretty much anything you want but not close the deal, that’s hard. So to finally win absolutely felt great. I don’t think we necessarily had the dominant car, but we had the car that took off the best on the restarts, and we had quite a few there at the end. I think we were hands down the strongest car on restarts of getting to turn one from the restart point, and all the technology Mobil 1 brings to the table certainly helped us with that.”
How tough was it to hold off everyone during all of those restarts at the end of the race? “It was nerve wracking at the end, for sure. Every time the caution came out, you cringed knowing you were giving them another opportunity to take a shot. You sit there and go, ‘How many times are we going to risk losing this race because of a restart? Something is going to get taken away from us because of this.’ The other thing is that every time the caution came out, you knew there was another heat cycle on the tires. But our car was so strong on restarts, we could get to the start/finish line and get to turn one so good – that was a big key in being able to stay out front. We may have been a little bit weaker than everyone behind us during those first three laps after a restart, but we’d break even during the next three laps. And after six or seven laps, we were able to pull away. It was just a great win for us.”
Is being out front still the place to be at Las Vegas because you’re in clean air? “As time goes on, the sport evolves, technology gets closer and closer, the rules get closer and closer, but the one variable that stays the same is air. If you can get out front and get in clean air, it’s always going to be an advantage. It’s been that way in Formula One, IndyCar, sports car racing. It’s even big in the World of Outlaws. It’s not just in the Sprint Cup Series. It’s everywhere you find that because the technology has gotten so close, the cars have gotten so close, that it’s little differences that make a huge difference on the racetrack. Do I think it’s going to be that way everywhere? Absolutely not. The tracks where the tires fall off more, it’s not as critical because it seems like you move around more. The wider the track gets because of tire wear and the guys can offset themselves, the less the air becomes a factor.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- Race No. 3 – Kobalt Tools 400
NASCAR Xfinity Series -- Race No. 3 – Boyd Gaming 300
Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) – Las Vegas, Nev.
Fast Facts for March 6-8, 2015
Tire: Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials
Set limits: Sprint Cup: 5 sets for practice/qualifying and 9 sets for the race;
Xfinity: 8 sets for the event
Tire Codes: Left-side -- D-4652; Right-side -- D-4630
Tire Circumference: Left-side -- 87.40 in. (2,220 mm); Right-side --88.39 in. (2,245 mm)
Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front -- 30 psi; Left Rear -- 30 psi;
Right Front -- 58 psi; Right Rear -- 54 psi
Notes: Teams in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series will run the same tire set-up at Las Vegas this weekend . . . this is the first time these teams will run this combination of left- and right-side tires at Las Vegas, though Sprint Cup teams did run this right-side tire code (D-4630) at Talladega last October . . . compared to what was run at Las Vegas last year, this right-side features a compound change for better wear . . . this weekend's left-side tire code (D-4652) features both construction and compound changes vs. the 2014 Las Vegas left-side . . . the construction change is to align this track with other, similar tracks; while the compound change will enhance grip . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Las Vegas . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.
FORD NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES WINNERS AT LAS VEGAS
1998 – Mark Martin
1999 – Jeff Burton
2000 – Jeff Burton
2003 – Matt Kenseth
2004 – Matt Kenseth
2008 – Carl Edwards
2011 – Carl Edwards
2014 – Brad Keselowski
FORD NASCAR XFINITY SERIES WINNERS AT LAS VEGAS
1999 – Mark Martin
2000 – Jeff Burton
2002 – Jeff Burton
2005 – Mark Martin
2009 – Greg Biffle
2012 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2013 – Sam Hornish Jr.
2014 – Brad Keselowski