Never mind the casinos, the fabulous stage shows or the glitz and glamor that comes from a weekend in Las Vegas. There's always time to take in those sights and sounds. The big entertainment in Las Vegas will be Saturday night located just a few miles north of the city at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That's where you'll find the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who will be running the Las Vegas 350 on the one and a half mile paved oval.
SOME PRE RACE NOTES OF INTEREST
Going into Saturday's race three time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr has a healthy 217 point lead over Matt Crafton with only five races left in the season. That not exactly an insurmountable lead but it does have plenty of room for comfort.
Despite his massive success in his series' career, Hornaday has actually never won at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his eight starts there. But it doesn't mean he hasn't achieved success at this track. In the eight starts he has five top five finishes, a healthy track driver rating of 94.2 and his average running position is 9.9. Oh yes, he also officially clinched two of his three titles at Las Vegas.
Crafton, on the other hand, is going to have to bring out the big guns if he hopes to gain any ground on Hornaday's points lead. He's also needs to overcome some horrible racing luck at this track that has hounded him over the past few years. Crafton has an 18.1 average finish at Las Vegas and that's the first area of concern if he's ever going to have a shot at the series championship during the final five races.
In still more good news regarding Ron Hornaday Jr, he was recently named the Third Quarter Driver Of The Year 2009. This prestigious honor, bestowed annually by the Driver Of The Year Foundation, marks the first time a truck racer has won the quarterly voting. Hornaday garnered a total of 99 votes from the judges and easily beat Indy Racing League's Ryan Brisco's 82 votes. You can bet that Hornaday's recent string of five consecutive NASCAR Camping World Series wins had a lot to do with this honor. The voting is accomplished by a panel of 20 racing journalists from all across the country.
No one wants to win the Las Vegas 350 more than T J Bell. The young driver of the #11 Red Horse Racing Toyota wants badly to give his team their first ever win since their 2006 inception. Bell pointed out how hard his team works, how much they deserve a win and admitted that he practically promised to give them one before the season ends. "That's our goal, to win races. We're not racing for points, we're not racing for anything else," he said.
There's another major reason why Bell wants to win Saturday's race. The track is located near his home turf of Sparks-Nevada which is only a short highway trip away from Las Vegas. There's going to be plenty of family and friends sitting in the Las Vegas grandstands Saturday night.
Bell also got a look at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday morning from a totally different perspective. He went tandem sky diving along with Speed Channel reporter Ray Dunlap. It was the driver's first jump, the reporter's second jump and you can bet that Dunlap will share the details with us during the Speed Channel's "Countdown" show.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Las Vegas 350 is 146 laps, 219 miles and 350 kilometers around the speedway's massive 1.5 mile oval.
The race has 35 entries which means all teams will have a starting berth in a race that normally accommodates 36 trucks.
The 2008 race champion is Mike Skinner driver of the #5 Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota. Ron Hornaday Jr set the fast time and started on the pole last year.
A reconfiguration of the speedway in recent years, created progressive banking at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That resulted in plenty room for passing and, in general, better racing. However, there is a reported bump over the track's tunnel, between turns one and two, that will bear considerations for the drivers Saturday night.
A veteran still continues to lead the Rookie Of The Year standings. Although a multi year NASCAR veteran, Johnny Sauter is considered a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series. He leads the standings by 24 points over young Tayler Malsam.
In the series' manufacturer's standings, Kyle Busch's recent win has helped Toyota move closer to their fourth consecutive title. Going into Saturday night's race Toyota has 147 points followed by Chevrolet-129, Ford-84 and Dodge-58.
The Las Vegas 350 will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel beginning at 6pm eastern time.