Las Vegas: GM Racing preview

Las Vegas, NV - Team Chevy Silverado teams and drivers head to LVMS for the Smith's Las Vegas 350 on Saturday, September 23, 2006. The Bowtie brand has been to victory lane four times, more than any other manufacturer, in the previous nine NCTS...

Las Vegas, NV - Team Chevy Silverado teams and drivers head to LVMS for the Smith's Las Vegas 350 on Saturday, September 23, 2006. The Bowtie brand has been to victory lane four times, more than any other manufacturer, in the previous nine NCTS events at the 1.5-mile track in the desert just north of Las Vegas, NV.

This years' event puts teams back to square one as far as knowing what is the fast setup at LVMS. The track has undergone a complete resurfacing and dramatic changes to the banking. The concrete patches and bumps in turns three and four are gone, replaced by a new, smooth black asphalt surface. Banking has been added to the corners to increase the side-by-side racing and giving drivers plenty of room to pass.

Dennis Setzer, No. E85 FlexFuel Silverado, participated in a Goodyear tire test earlier in the summer. Setzer and his Randy Goss led Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team were the only Silverado teams to participate in the two-day test.

"This year, things will be quite different," stated Setzer. "With the track being completely torn apart, it should make the racing interesting to watch, and I am hoping that the multiple grooves will come in soon, but that may be wishful thinking. Usually when a track has been re-done, it takes some considerable time for the groove to come back in, and I think Talladega will be the same way. We participated in the tire test out there a few weeks ago, so we got a little bit of a sneak peak of the new surface, but I think that everyone will be on the same playing field."

Five-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race winner Jeremy Mayfield will make just his second-career NCTS start in the No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Silverado. Ballew's team won the 2004 NCTS race at LVMS and is looking to repeat that trip to victory lane with Mayfield. Mayfield's first NCTS start came in 2003 at Lowe's Motor Speedway where he finished in sixth position.

Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 15 AES HR Solutions Silverado fielded by Kevin Harvick, Inc. hasn't made a trip to victory lane at LVMS but has made a statement in all five previous starts. He has scored one second-place finish, two third-place finishes, a 10th and 13th place finishes. In addition, the two-time NCTS champion clinched the 1998 series' crown to score the closest NCTS championship finish, edging out Jack Sprague by just three points.

Mike Bliss, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado, returns to LVMS in the NCTS for the first time since 2002, when he finished second. The 2002 NCTS champion has five previous starts at LVMS scoring top-10 finishes at all but one race when he was sidelined by a crash.

Raybestos Rookie contenders Aric Almirola, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, and Kraig Kinser, No. 46 Ginn Clubs and Resorts Silverado, will be making their career-first starts at LVMS.

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 85 E85 FlexFuel Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"Las Vegas is a great place, and I look forward to racing there every year. This year, things will be quite different, with the track being completely torn apart. It should make the racing interesting to watch, and I am hoping that the multiple grooves will come in soon, but that may be wishful thinking. Usually when a track has been re-done, it takes some considerable time for the groove to come back in, and I think Talladega will be the same way. We participated in the tire test out there a few weeks ago, so we got a little bit of a sneak peak of the new surface, but I think that everyone will be on the same playing field. I know the guys are looking forward to spending some time in the city, making a mini-vacation out of the trip, so it should be a fun deal. Our Chevy Silverado has always run well at Vegas, although last year we didn't quite get the finish that we would have hoped for, this year I am hoping we can turn our luck around and bring our truck back into Victory Lane."

DRIVER: KRAIG KINSER
TEAM: No. 46 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"I have never raced at Las Vegas before; I have only been to the dirt track and the drag strip. I really am looking forward to heading out there, and having a good run in the truck. We have brought back Ginn Clubs & Resorts as the sponsor, so I am sure we will have some guests at the track for the race. I am just excited to get back into the truck after a month break, and seeing how the new track improvements have come along will be cool also. It will kind of be nice to almost be a the same level as everyone else, instead of heading to Las Vegas as a driver that has never been on the track, I get to go there like everyone else and not really know what to expect. Hopefully we can qualify up front, and have great pit stops, and get a good run in for the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team."

DRIVER:  RON HORNADAY

TEAM: No. 33 AES HR Solutions Silverado

"Las Vegas is a fun, exciting place that I can't wait to get back to every year. My old buddy, Jack Sprague, and I had a pretty intense battle that ended up winning me the championship in 1998, so I always look back at Vegas with some pretty fond memories. Now that I am back in the Truck Series again and can race against some of my old friends, I just cannot say how much I enjoy racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The racing just jeeps getting better every week, and I am so proud to be able to race for Kevin and DeLana (Harvick). We have put together a great group of people, and everyone seems to work better together each week. I am looking forward to bringing our new sponsor, AES HR Solutions, to their first victory before the year is over, and hopefully we can get that accomplished this weekend in Las Vegas."

DRIVER:  ARIC ALMIROLA

TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado - Spears Motorsports

"I'm really pumped up about going to Vegas; I've heard a lot of good things about the surface and that it will produce really good racing. I'm also just as excited about going to the city of Vegas because it's such a cool place to go and make it somewhat of a mini vacation being there a day earlier for the test day. My luck is bound to change sometime soon, so maybe it'll come in Vegas where luck is everything."

DRIVER:  MATT CRAFTON

TEAM: No. 88 Menards Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"Vegas is a place like no other. The schedule allows the guys to have a little bit of fun while we are out there, and we can still have an exciting race for the fans. I know a lot of the guys are bringing their spouses out there, so it gives everyone something to look forward. I think that the racing will definitely be different this year, with the track being completely re-done. I am hoping that the racing will be as exciting as it has been in the past, but no one really knows how it is going to be. I know we will definitely be using the practice sessions to get used to the new surface, so I think just about every team will be thrown a curve-ball as far as that goes. If we can use some pit strategy, and hopefully the Vegas luck will be in our favor and maybe we can pull off a win in Vegas that would be awesome!"

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Mike Bliss , Kraig Kinser , Aric Almirola