By Andi Dupper
NASCAR Weekend: Bright Lights, Fast City
The still air tinged with the smell of melting rubber. Small RV cities as far as you can see. Thunderous roars of aerodynamic, fiberglass speed capsules battling for the checkered flag for 300 miles. For three days, the bright neon, the honking horns, dynamic architecture, strolling tourists of the Las Vegas strip fall wayside to the melee that is happening at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NASCAR Weekend.
NASCAR week(end) does start on the famous boulevard. South Point, the host hotel and casino presents several driver meet and greets during the week. On Thursday, the famous neon of the strip is met with the bright lights of the NASCAR haulers. Thousands of excited fans line the strip to watch the parade of haulers as they travel to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Friday, March 10th is a qualifying day for the teams. Stratosphere Pole day is as exciting for the spectators and fans as the actual race days. Fans have the opportunity to purchase VIP packages that include Hot and Cold Pit passes, Neon Garage passes, and more. In true Vegas fashion, “high rollers” make their way to the pits and are able to interact with the pit crews, and possible driver from time to time. This area is electric and home to diehard race fans all weekend.
During a conversation with a true diehard fan who flew in from Minnesota with his wife, he said, including airfare, hotel, rental car, for the 5 days they are here in Las Vegas, he will spend almost $9,000! Let that sink in a bit.
On Saturday, March 11th, fans enjoyed The NASCAR Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300. Kyle Busch dominated, leading in the first 45 laps. However, he proved to be no match for the win hungry, Kyle Larson. The battle was hard won as Busch, Logano and Larson jockeyed for the leader position. With 58 laps to go and Logano in the clear lead, the three drivers hit the pits for fuel and fresh tires. The excitement of the race was overshadowed by nine cautions, before Joey Logano took home the checkered flag.
Sunday, March 12th was an action-packed day at The Monster Energy NASCAR cup series, Kobalt 400. Hometown boy Kyle Busch was running a hard and fast race again. With just a few miles left to race, a caution flag was raised and slowed the action. Martin Truex Jr. passed the faltering car of Brad Keselowski on the white flag lap and cruised in for the checkered flag for his first win of the season, and first win at LV Motor Speedway.
Behind Truex, Joey Logano slid up into Kyle Busch’s car in a quest for third position. Busch spun into the inside wall on pit road and limped across the finish line in 22nd place. Logano salvaged a fourth-place position, Kyle Larson in second position and in third place, Chase Elliot. But wasn't the end of the battles! Busch hustled up pit road to confront Logano and threw a punch at Logano's head. The fist to cuffs off the track stole the thunder of the day long battle between the dominant cars of Truex, who led 150 of the 267 laps, and Keselowski, who led 89. Logano’s pit crew intervened in the fight, pulling Logano to safety, but not until they left Kyle Busch with a bruised and bloodied forehead.
Fans left with a lot to talk about, including the news that Las Vegas was selected for a second NASCAR weekend.
NHRA hits the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 31 through April 2.