* Mayfield belts into '04 Smith's Las Vegas 350 ride * Sears unveils Hispanic initiative at this week's race Smith's Las Vegas 350 News & Notes Gaughan gets hometown workout ... Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Dodge) ... will be both host...
* Mayfield belts into '04 Smith's Las Vegas 350 ride
* Sears unveils Hispanic initiative at this week's race
Smith's Las Vegas 350 News & Notes
Gaughan gets hometown workout ... Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Dodge) ... will be both host and competitor this week when the series visits his Las Vegas hometown. He'll host a driver-media poker tournament at the South Point Resort on Wednesday night with proceeds earmarked for Speedway Children's Charities. On Thursday morning, he'll become a commuter of a different sort -- driving his race truck from Tropicana to the speedway with a pit stop at the Barbary Coast on the Las Vegas Strip. He'll hold an open house for fans at his shop adjacent to Turn 1 on Thursday afternoon.
Mayfield returns to series ... With the team's semi-regular driver Kyle Busch busy at Dover International Speedway, Jeremy Mayfield will step into Billy Ballew's 2004 Smith's Las Vegas 350 winning No. 15 Chevrolet. Mayfield finished sixth in his only series experience in May 2003 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Money milestones on line at LVMS ... A victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- his first -- will make Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 AES HR Solutions Chevrolet) the series' fourth $4 million winner. Mike Bliss (No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Chevrolet), like Hornaday a former series champion, becomes the eighth driver to reach $3 million by finishing third or higher.
Title chase gets a bit tighter ... By historical standards, Bodine's 124-point lead over Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) isn't exactly a barn-burner. In fact, it's the second-widest margin in series history with seven races remaining. Viewed another way, however, Benson's fourth victory of the year on Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway chopped a fifth -- 30 points -- off Bodine's previous advantage. "It's going to be a dogfight to the end," said Bodine, who finished fourth in the New Hampshire 200.
Michel Jourdain Jr. took part in Sunday's Fiestas Patrias ... the largest single-day Hispanic event held in Las Vegas. Sears Craftsman and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will invite 500 VIP guests to experience this week's Smith's Las Vegas 350 as a means to increase awareness in the Hispanic community of Craftsman's involvement in NASCAR. Ticket giveaways in cooperation with Univision, live music and other pre-race activities are planned. Jourdain, from Mexico City, will compete at LVMS in his No. 50 Roush Racing Ford.
ETC: ... By starting Saturday's race in New Hampshire, Terry Cook (No. 10 Ford Power Stroke Diesel Ford) moved past Joe Ruttman into the sixth position in series winnings. Cook counts $3,142,009 in 233 career appearances. ... Winning crew chief Rick Ren joins Cook's Dennis Connor as a two-time winner at NHIS. Ren previously won with Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Andy Houston in 1998. ... How do you say streaking? Benson counted zero wins in his first 59 series starts and has won four times in his last nine races. ... Champ Car World Series title contender A.J. Allmendinger (No. 24 Toyota) finished 13th in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck debut driving a backup truck from shotgun on the 36-truck field. ... Gaughan had pledged his New Hampshire winnings to Georgetown University but a mid-race accident left the alum 34th worth $7,330. To add insult, the school's football team lost to Brown University the same afternoon. ... Skinner's fifth Budweiser Pole of the season was the 1995 champion's 29th overall breaking a deadlock with Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota). The two veterans have traded the all-time qualifying record throughout the 2006 season. ... David Starr (No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota) has gone 42 races since his last DNF -- the series' longest current streak. Starr began the run in March 2005 in Atlanta when the Texan then drove for Spears Motorsports. Bobby Hamilton's series record is 64 consecutive finishes. ... Peter Shepherd will drive Roush Racing's No. 6 Scotts Ford at LVMS.
On The Right Track
Five winners in the field ... Five former Smith's Las Vegas 350 winners boasting six victories are expected to compete in Saturday's race. Sprague won the inaugural event in 1996 and repeated two years later. Hoping to join Sprague as double winners are Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE Toyota, 2001), Starr (2002), Gaughan (2003) and Bodine (2005). Three -- Bodine, Hornaday and Sprague -- already are winners this season.
Not a winner at LVMS but ... Hornaday counts two second and two third-place finishes and in 1998 edged Sprague by three points in the series' closest championship finish. "So I always look back at Vegas with some pretty fond memories," said Hornaday.
Roush Racing is double winner -- just not lately ... Roush Racing trucks went to Victory Lane at LVMS in 1997 with Ruttman and Greg Biffle in 1999. The Jack Roush-owned team is the only one to win twice at the track. Two owners got their first wins at Las Vegas -- Wayne Spears with Starr in 2002 and Billy Ballew with Shane Hmiel in 2004. The latter's victory came in the owner's 100th series start.
Skinner seeks third straight Budweiser pole ... Skinner can become the first series driver to win three consecutive poles at different tracks if he is the fast qualifier for the Smith's Las Vegas 350.
"I do think that right from the get-go it's going to be at least a two-groove race track and it may get to three grooves in it's first race ever just because the parabolic banking is really nice." -- Brendan Gaughan, the 2003 Smith's Las Vegas 350 winner.
"In the past, we've struggled at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for some reason and we don't know why. Now, they've reconfigured it and I'm anxious to get there and see what the track is like. We need a good finish." -- David Reutimann, No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota, third in points but still looking for his first 2006 victory.
"I have a pole and a win on the old track, so I really liked the track the way it was. But I like to go fast -- and since the track is faster now, I'm sure that I will like it even more." -- David Starr, winner at LVMS in 2002. "To be honest, I'm actually a little disappointed that they have changed the track at Las Vegas. I was pretty partial to the track the way it was." -- Jack Sprague, the track's only double winner.
In The Loop
You might say look for the usual suspects when picking a winner of the Smith's Las Vegas 350 -- at least by Driver Rating. Defending winner Todd Bodine came oh-so-close to perfection with a rating of 149.4 of a possible 150. Four other veterans had ratings in triple digits -- runnerup and ultimate champion Musgrave (123.8), third place Starr (113.1), fourth place Sprague (112.8) and sixth place Skinner (112.9).
Bodine's ultimate ticket to Victory Lane was punched by the following. He was the fastest early in a run at 153.954 and No. 2 late in a run at 153.911. Where did he get it done? Not on the frontstretch where he ranked 13th. Bodine, however, ranked No. 1 in speed in all four turns.
From The Archives
The inaugural Smith's Las Vegas 350 in 1996 had a couple of huge names from the world of motorsports. Indianapolis 500 champion A.J. Foyt made his last NASCAR Craftsman Truck start at the age of 61 and finished 28th. Former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Bill Elliott also competed and finished second to Sprague.
The Race: Smith's Las Vegas 350
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sept. 23, 2006
The Time: 6:15 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 350 Kilometers (146 laps)
Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval
TV: SPEED, 6 p.m. (ET)
Race Purse: $510,234
2005 Winner: Todd Bodine
2005 Pole: Mike Skinner
Schedule: Friday -- Optional Practice, 12- 4 p.m. and 5- 8 p.m.; Saturday-Practice, 9-10 a.m. and 10:30-11:30 a.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.