Las Vegas: GM Racing preview

Ron Hornaday, Jr. Hold Points Lead as NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Heads to Las Vegas; 1996 Indianapolis 500 Winner Buddy Lazier to Race for Billy Ballew Motorsports Las Vegas, NV - Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, leads Team...

Ron Hornaday, Jr. Hold Points Lead as NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Heads to Las Vegas; 1996 Indianapolis 500 Winner Buddy Lazier to Race for Billy Ballew Motorsports

Las Vegas, NV - Ron Hornaday, Jr., No. 33 Camping World Silverado, leads Team Chevy Silverado to Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) with a 29-point lead in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). After scoring his fourth win of the season in dominating fashion at New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) last Saturday, the two-time NCTS champion knows he and his Rick Ren-led Kevin Harvick, Inc. team have to keep the pressure on the competition.

"Rick (Ren) has a lot of faith in the stuff he builds," Hornaday said. "The stuff he's bringing over here is perfect and Kevin and DeLana don't complain about anything. He's doing such an awesome job with the guys and our crew just had some awesome pit stops. It's so cool to have a great truck like this and do what we did. If we didn't do that, then (Mike) Skinner is going to do that. We are just going to try to dominate, lead every lap, and win every race we can."

Heading in to the Las Vegas Smith's 350K, Hornaday is mentally as prepared for a race as a driver can be given some unknowns with a new surface and changes in the banking on the l.5-mile track just north of Las Vegas, NV.

"I'm not sure what to expect with the new paving and banking changes at Las Vegas," said Hornaday. "But in the past I have typically had top-five and top-10 finishes there. Rick Ren and the guys will make sure that I have the truck I need to go out there and get the job done."

"I wasn't sure if our standard package would work based on how rough the race track was at Vegas last year," Ren said. "But after talking to Wally (Rogers) I am confident it is the right decision. The setup that we are taking should be just what Hornaday needs to run well there.

"We had a top-five and top-10 finish with the Busch teams at Las Vegas. Wally mentioned that changing the tires made it better to drive and you could move around on the track better now."

Billy Ballew Motorsports (BBMS), the winning team in 2004 at LVMS, will add to the excitement of event by having 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier behind the wheel of No. 15 Flanders Beef Patties Silverado.

Frank Bolter long-time spotter for BBMS is also a well-known spotter in the racing industry. Bolter had spotted for Buddy Lazier at the Indy 500 several years and two years ago after coming back from Indianapolis Bolter told team owner Billy Ballew that Lazier was interested in getting into a NASCAR Craftsman Truck. Ballew immediately invited Lazier to the 2005 Charlotte test where Lazier took his first laps in Chevrolet Silverado NASCAR Craftsman Truck.

"IROC really was an eye opener for me into the world of stock car racing," Lazier said. "Racing with the best in the NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series as well as other race drivers was a blast. It was probably the most fun racing experience for me in my 20 years of professional motorsports. I've been trying to find the right opportunity since then. I tested a Craftsman Truck at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2005 for Billy Ballew. I was pretty cautious driving but our times were comparable to the other trucks on the track. I have been looking for an opportunity since then. I've always continued contact with Frank (Bolter) and Billy Ballew and so when the opportunity arose for us to race in Las Vegas I jumped at the chance. They are racers on that team and to me it's a perfect fit and I feel right at home with the whole team. I've driven at the track in Las Vegas but with the old configuration so I'll be studying up on last year's rac e this week and be looking forward to a lot of seat time during practice. I look forward to a good start and finish and see what develops from there. Obviously, I'd love to continue racing in a top-tier NASCAR Series and hope I can make a good start on Saturday in Las Vegas."

Lazier has four previous Las Vegas Motor Speedway starts on the previously configured 1.5-mile tri-oval. His best start at the speedway is fourth in 1996 and a best finish of third in 2000. Billy Ballew Motorsports has five previous Craftsman Truck Series starts with the team's first NASCAR Series victory at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2004.

For Brendan Gaughan and the South Point Racing team this is their weekend on the (NCTS) schedule. They are the home team as the NCTS rolls into Las Vegas for this Saturday's Smith's Las Vegas 350. This is the race where the pressure is on.

"The Vegas race is the double-edged sword weekend," Gaughan said. "It's our home track. We are the only team here. We expect to put on a great show for them.

"There is a lot of pressure on us this weekend," Gaughan continued. "I love pressure. Last year, we had a great truck and wrecked on like lap one. We passed like nine trucks on the first lap and got in somebody else's wreck. But I always say you create your own luck. We started back there - we created that. This year, the way we have been qualifying now and the way we have been running, we expect to be a threat from the time we unload, and we expect to go out there and be one of those top three teams like we think we are now."

In addition to the on-track schedule, Gaughan and the team are hosting a charity-bowling tournament at the South Point Hotel on Thursday night and an open-house at their shop for fans and other teams on Friday.

Willie Allen, No. 13 Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower Silverado, and Tim Sauter, No. 07 Lester Building Silverado, are engaged in a fierce battle for the NCTS Raybestos Rookie of the Year crown.

"I'm looking forward to my first experience at Las Vegas," said Allen. "We hope to rebound from last week and bring home a good finish for our #13 Chevy Silverado. We're going to keep working hard each week and keep ourselves focused on Rookie of the Year. I want to thank the Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower for coming on board as the primary sponsor for us this weekend. We really appreciate their support."

"We didn't finish as well as I would have liked in New Hampshire," said Sauter. "We were strong off and on during the day. Despite our 23rd place finish, we were the top finishing rookie and expanded our very slim lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings to four points over Willie Allen so it is going to be a tough fight the rest of the season." The Las Vegas Smith's 350K is a one-day event for Team Silverado at LVMS.

Practice will commence on Friday, September 22 at 8:30 a.m. local time. Final practice will conclude at 11:30 a.m.with qualifying scheduled to begin at 3:00 P.M. NASCAR will then impound the 36 trucks qualified to start the 146-lap/219-mile race scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PDT Saturday. Live television will be provided by SPEED. MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio will carry the action live over the airwaves.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Buddy Lazier , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tim Sauter , Brendan Gaughan , Willie Allen