BUSCH: Las Vegas: News of note, schedule

Las Vegas; Change Is In The Desert Air Edwards Proving He Is The Favorite, Out Front In The Standings Early * Loop Data : What A Difference A Year Makes * Chevrolet Still On Top For The Bill France Performance Cup Las Vegas Takes On New Look...

Las Vegas; Change Is In The Desert Air
Edwards Proving He Is The Favorite, Out Front In The Standings Early

* Loop Data : What A Difference A Year Makes
* Chevrolet Still On Top For The Bill France Performance Cup

Las Vegas Takes On New Look But Still Boasts The Bright Lights

The NASCAR Busch Series is on the last leg of a two-month trek that has gone from testing in Daytona and Las Vegas, then back to Daytona for the start of the season, out west to California, then down south to Mexico. Now, the show heads out to the newly revamped Las Vegas Motor Speedway for its fourth race of the season - the Sam's Town 300.

Las Vegas is a completely new track this season with all the changes done in the off-season. The series tested there in February. Some of the changes to the 1.5-mile speedway include a narrower racing surface. The banking in the turns have been raised from 12 degrees to 20 degrees, along with six degrees added to the backstretch bringing it to nine degrees.

Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Wisk Dodge) won the race at Las Vegas last season, one of two series races he won in 2006. Kahne also tested in February and was near the top of the speed charts both days.

Edwards Proving He Is The Early Standings Favorite

Carl Edwards (No. 60 Dish Network Ford) has been named the favorite for this year's NASCAR Busch Series title and so far he hasn't disappointed.

Edwards is one of few drivers who are pulling double-duty this year running in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and the NASCAR Busch Series. So far he has been juggling both roles very well.

Edwards has started this season just like he finished last season, on the right foot. He left Daytona with a third-place finish, kicking off 2007 in the right fashion. He then traveled to California and again finished up front, notching a fourth-place finish. Then last week on a road course in Mexico, Edwards pulled out another top five, posting a fourth-place finish and taking the lead in the NASCAR Busch Series standings.

This will be Edwards' fifth year with Roush Fenway Racing and his third year competeing in the NASCAR Busch Series. Last year he finished the season in second place behind Kevin Harvick (No. 21 Autozone Chevrolet) who had a record-breaking championship season.

All the critics have made their picks this year and everyone is pointing to Edwards to come out on top. With a Driver Rating of 110.3 on the season, he is proving everyone right. Thus far Edwards has nine wins in his NASCAR Busch Series career.

Chevrolet Still On Top Of Manufacturer's Championship

Chevrolet still tops the standings in pursuit of history -- building on a record 13 Bill France Performance Cup titles.

Toyota hasn't had the same success. After leaving Daytona in second place the manufacturer has fallen to fourth place in the standings.

Juan Pablo Montoya putting his No. 42 Dodge in Victory Lane this weekend in Mexico hoisted Dodge to third in the standings.

What A Difference A Year Makes

Las Vegas Motor Speedway received a face lift of epic proportions over the past calendar year, increasing the banking in the turns from 12 to 20 degrees and adding six degrees of banking on the backstretch -- from three to nine.

How will this translate? We'll have to wait until Saturday's Busch Series Sam's Town 300 to find out, but one thing is for sure - it'll be fast.

If February's NASCAR Busch Series testing at Las Vegas is any indication, look for speeds to increase by as much as 12 mph faster than last year's mark taken during final practice for the 2006 Sam's Town 300. The speeds in race conditions are another story. Last September, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series raced at the newly renovated track and the speeds increased considerably. For instance, Tim Fedewa had a top average speed of 162.242 mph on the frontstretch during the 2005 race at the "old" LVMS. Last year, at the "new track", Ted Musgrave had the top average speed in the frontstretch at 176.820 mph.

Figure the same to hold true for the NASCAR Busch Series race. Also figure that those drivers who have excelled in the past at Las Vegas will continue to do so. It happened for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers, as Ted Musgrave, Mike Skinner, and Jack Sprague all earned top-10 Driver Ratings in both 2005 and 2006 versions.

If the same holds true, look for Roush Fenway Racing drivers to run near the top. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards earned top-six Driver Ratings over the past two years at Las Vegas.

Another driver to watch for is David Stremme. In last year's third-place finish at Las Vegas, Stremme earned a 112.5 Driver Rating and top-three speeds in Turns 2, 3, and 4. He also has the most Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 while under green) over the past two years with 36. More impressive, he's earned that amount in just one race.


Tony Stewart will be returning to the NASCAR Busch Series this weekend driving the No. 33 Old Spice Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. His best finish at Las Vegas was 12th last year. Along with Stewart will be Bobby Labonte driving the No. 77 Dollar General Stores Chevrolet for KHI, making his third NASCAR Busch Series start at Las Vegas. ... Las Vegas will have many of the big stars of NASCAR racing Saturday and Sunday this weekend with a total of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers scheduled to do double duty. ... This will be Shane Huffman's (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) first attempt under racing conditions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He previously tested at Las Vegas in February and is looking forward to this weekend's action. ... A local aspect is both Kyle Busch (No. 5 Delphi Chevrolet) and Kurt Busch (No. 12 Penske Truck Rentals Dodge) will be racing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series races this weekend. ...The 2nd Annual Raybestos Rookie Cooking Challenge is scheduled for March 8th in Las Vegas at the ESPN Zone. ... Next stop for the NASCAR Busch Series will be Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Nicorette 300 at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.


The Race: Sam's Town 300

The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: March 10, 20071

The Time: 3:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: ABC, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval

Race Purse: $1,626,747

2006 Winner: Kasey Kahne
2006 Pole: Matt Kenseth

Fri. March 9 -- Practice, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Rookie Practice, 9:40-10:10 a.m., Qualifying, 5:05 p.m. (Impound).

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Roush Fenway Racing