Preseason Thunder Las Vegas preview

Viva Las Vegas: Kyle Busch Ready To "Test" Hometown Cooking, Off-Road Pursuits *NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teams Eager To Tackle Las Vegas Motor Speedway's New Track *Series Readies for Second 2007 Test; Continues Important Preseason DAYTONA BEACH,...

Viva Las Vegas: Kyle Busch Ready To "Test" Hometown Cooking, Off-Road Pursuits

*NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teams Eager To Tackle Las Vegas Motor Speedway's New Track

*Series Readies for Second 2007 Test; Continues Important Preseason

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2007) -- Nearly 2,000 miles, three time zones and over 2,100 feet in elevation.

That's what separates the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' first two annual preseason test sessions -- the first at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, and the second next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

But for Las Vegas native Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet), it's a drive-through window at his favorite hamburger joint -- a mandatory pit stop the moment he steps off an airplane.

"I actually had an appearance in Las Vegas last month and was craving it so bad that I had our driver stop by on the way," Busch said. "We kind of thought we were going to get in trouble for being late, but our sponsor had already told the driver that I would probably want to stop there."

Fifty-six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams will attend the series' latest test, a two-day session that begins Monday in Las Vegas. It's a leap -- geographically, mentally and physically -- from Daytona, but no less important.

Teams will trade Daytona's 2.5 miles and restrictor plates for Las Vegas' 1.5 miles and no restrictor plates, but they'll also face a blank slate. Las Vegas' infield and racing surface have been rebuilt since last March's NASCAR event weekend, which means teams will find a narrower track, higher banking and pristine, updated garages.

"The Las Vegas test is significant in that it is one of only two tests at a 1.5-mile track (Lowe's Motor Speedway in May being the other)," said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. "This test provides the teams with a lot of valuable information they can put to use in getting prepared for most of the races that they won't be running the Car of Tomorrow."

"Testing at Las Vegas is important because that track is totally different than it was when we raced there last time," said reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Busch's Hendrick Motorsports teammate and the defending Las Vegas winner.

"I am very curious to see what the banking and surface is like. It will be like going to Las Vegas for the first time. Plus, there are worse things in the world than spending a few days in Las Vegas." Ditto, says Busch, although for slightly different reasons.

"My favorite thing about going to Las Vegas is just that it's home to me," he said. "I really take the time to relax when I'm there. I go see some old friends and just enjoy the time there.

"It seems like when we're there for race weekend everything's pretty rushed, but testing's a little different. So, hopefully next week we'll learn a lot on the track and I'll get some downtime in my hometown."

Busch, who got a sneak-peek at the new racing surface during a December tire test, already has scoped out sites for some downtime; specifically, pre- or post-test four-wheeling. He's counting on reinforcements, including Johnson and Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford).

Add another four-wheeling teammate, Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet), and you see the trend: All four drivers are West Coast natives.

"One of my favorite things to do out in Vegas is to go out on the sand dunes," Busch said. "It doesn't matter if we're on quads or what, it's just a fun way to pass a day out there. My teammate, Casey Mears, just got an off-road vehicle over the off-season so we're talking about going out on the dunes together, maybe with Jimmie and Biffle too. It must be a West Coast thing. We all love doing that."

***

NEWS AND NOTES, PART II

Daily Test Schedule ... All sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., weather permitting.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder At Las Vegas

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Track Layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.

When: Monday, Jan. 29 through Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Times: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Who: 56 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports