Las Vegas, NV (Mar 19) Fans arrived on Saturday March 9th for the Nationwide Sam’s Town 300 and Sunday March 10th for the Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 to sunshine and clear skys. Sprint cup qualifying was cancelled and drivers of both races had very little practice time on the track due to rain. The buzz was Hamlin’s $25,000 fine for mildly critiquing the new Gen-6 car. NASCAR officials saw his comments more like criticism. Lots of work went into this new car and NASCAR doesn’t like the product criticized. Denny Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, commented shortly after the sprint cup race at Phoenix “I don’t want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our Generation-5 cars.” Hamlin said he would not pay the fine “they can suspend me; I don’t care at this point.” He plans to appeal the fine.
The Kobalt Social Media Command Center, located in the Neon Garage , debuted this weekend with host computers, accompanied by large video monitors and screens that gave fans a live view of social networking. Feeds from drivers, fans, race teams, and sponsors were tracked and displayed on monitors in the Neon Garage. Drivers and celebrities appeared in the command center all weekend to participate in fan interaction and tweet-ups. Free wireless internet was also available to the fans.
Saturday’s Nationwide Sam’s Town 300 pole sitter was Brian Vickers. The winner of the race was Sam Hornish, Jr., driving the No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang. He is the current point’s leader. Kyle Busch, driving the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota finished second. Brian Vickers, driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota finished third, and Trevor Bayne, driving the No.6 Cargill/WFG Ford Mustang finished fourth. Bruton Smith, SMI Chairman of the Board, announced Boyd Gaming, the parent company of Sam’s Town, will extend its sponsorship of the Las Vegas Nationwide race for another four years taking its support of the Saturday race to the 20-year mark.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 starters were determined by last year’s owner points. Brad Keselowski was on the pole. The winner of the race was Matt Kenseth, Driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota. Kasey Kahne, driving the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet finished second. Brad Keselowski, driving the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford finished third, with Kyle Bush in fourth place driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI) President and Chief Operating Officer Marcus Smith, and AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins, announced SMI’s commitment to donate food through the 2013 race season on behalf of Drive to End Hunger, a national initiative to address the problem of older adult hunger in America. To get involved or learn more, please visit www.DriveToEndHunger.org.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway packs NASCAR weekend with entertainment for the fans. Celebrity performers, Miss Sprint Cup, Pit Boss, Miss zMax, Las Vegas showgirls, USAF Thunderbirds fly over, and entertaining in the Neon Garage, AC Generation. The young performers were all talented but Alexey, the ten- year old drummer, wowed the crowd with her exceptional ability and twirling the drumsticks.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a wholly owned subsidiary of Speedway Motorsports. The 1.5-mile tri-oval has a distance of 400.5 miles with 267 laps. For more information visit www.speedwaymotorsports.com. Fans can’t wait for next year’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brenda Hyatt, Featured Journalist/Co-editor
Donald Scelzo, Photographer