BUSCH: Las Vegas Preseason Thunder preview

NASCAR PRESEASON THUNDER AT LAS VEGAS CONTINUES WITH NASCAR BUSCH SERIES TEAMS * NASCAR Busch Series prepares for 25th anniversary season at Las Vegas * Las Vegas test crucial to teams as information transfers to other 1.5-mile tracks on...

NASCAR PRESEASON THUNDER AT LAS VEGAS CONTINUES WITH NASCAR BUSCH SERIES TEAMS

* NASCAR Busch Series prepares for 25th anniversary season at Las Vegas

* Las Vegas test crucial to teams as information transfers to other 1.5-mile tracks on 2006 schedule

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2006) -- The final test session of the preseason for the NASCAR Busch Series takes place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Feb. 6 -- 8. The next stop for series teams will be the season-opening Hershey's Kissables 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, which kicks off the 25th anniversary season of series sponsor Anheuser-Busch.

This year, NASCAR has set a schedule for when and where each of its national series may test at tracks that host NASCAR events. Those tests will be the teams' only opportunities to test at those tracks. Las Vegas is one of five tracks that NASCAR Busch Series teams can utilize for tests this season.

"Teams were surveyed on the tracks where they wanted to test, and Las Vegas was a very important facility because a lot of the information can be transferred to the other 1.5-mile tracks in the series," said NASCAR Busch Series Director Joe Balash. "This is the first preview for all the downforce cars and for the teams to test the new body styles," he said.

Over 40 teams are scheduled to participate in the three-day session where teams select two of the three available days to test.

Many of the drivers scheduled to attend the test had tremendous success at intermediate tracks last season. Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest/Henkel Ford) captured two wins and three Busch Poles -- one at Las Vegas -- in addition to posting four other top-five finishes among his NASCAR Busch Series races at 1.5-mile tracks. The 2005 series Raybestos Rookie of the Year finished third in the championship standings.

Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge), who finished fourth in the final NASCAR Busch Series points standings in 2005, registered four top fives at tracks of that distance; Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), last year's series runner-up, had six top-10 finishes while Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox Ford) counted four top fives among his finishes at 1.5-mile tracks. Wood finished 15th in the points standings last year.

Other drivers scheduled to attend the session include six who also finished in the top 10 of the NASCAR Busch Series championship standings in 2005: Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet), Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford), David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), Jason Keller (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Dodge), who will drive for Phoenix Racing this season and Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford), the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion.

Other top 2006 title contenders scheduled to test are John Andretti (No. 10 FreedomRoads Racing Ford), who makes his fulltime series debut this season; Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) and his new Team Rensi Motorsports running mate Regan Smith (No. 35 McDonald's Ford); Jason Leffler (No. 32 Braun Racing Chevrolet), and Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet).

In addition to Biffle, three other former NASCAR Busch Series champions are scheduled to test -- Joe Nemechek (No. 87 NEMCO Chevrolet), who won in 1991, David Green, who captured the 1994 crown and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet), the 2001 series champion. Nemechek and Harvick are also NASCAR Busch Series team owners. Harvick's KHI organization has two teams; one will test at Las Vegas, that of Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet).

Other Raybestos Rookie hopefuls are scheduled to make their series testing debuts at Las Vegas including Danny O'Quinn (No. 50 Roush Racing Ford) and Todd Kluever (No. 06 3M Ford) of Roush Racing, Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet), who drives for two-time series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team and Chris Wimmer (No. 23 Keith Coleman Racing Chevrolet). Wimmer is the younger brother of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Scott Wimmer.

Although not a rookie, another first-year driver of interest will be Paul Tracy (No. 34 Cicci/Kelly Chevrolet). The veteran open-wheel star plans to make his NASCAR debut this season in the NASCAR Busch Series with a five-race schedule. A pair of teenagers, 19-year-old Stephen Leicht (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) -- who along with Matt McCall will share time with Elliott Sadler in the Robert Yates Racing entry -- and 18-year-old Steve Wallace (No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge), son of recently-retired NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, are also scheduled to attend the test session.

And along with Bowyer, Edwards, Hamlin, Sorenson and Harvick, Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet), a native of Las Vegas, and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet), whose hometown is Phoenix, Ariz., are scheduled to test. That group plans to run a full season this year in both the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Edwards, who tested in Las Vegas with his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup team last week, continues his busy schedule. He will depart from Las Vegas following his test session on Feb. 7 to participate in day-long media appearances in Mexico City on Feb. 8 in preparation for the March 5 road-course race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

All sessions begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time, weather permitting. Each session includes a lunch break from noon until 1:00 p.m.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing for 2006.

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Track Layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.

When: Mon., Feb. 6 -- Wed., Feb. 8.

Times: 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m.; Lunch from Noon -- 1 p.m. (PT)

Who: John Andretti, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Spencer Clark, Stacy Compton, Carl Edwards, David Gilliland, David Green, Mark Green, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tracy Hines, Ron Hornaday Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jason Keller, Matt Kenseth, Joel Kauffman, Todd Kluever, Jason Leffler, Burney Lamar, Stephen Leicht, Kevin Lepage, Ashton Lewis Jr., Mark McFarland, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Joe Nemechek, Danny O'Quinn, Steve Park, Ken Schrader, Jay Sauter, Johnny Sauter, Tim Sauter, Regan Smith, Reed Sorenson, Paul Tracy, Kenny Wallace, Steve Wallace, Chris Wimmer, Jon Wood and J.J. Yeley.

-nascar-

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