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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roush team win a solid bet at Vegas; Jeff Gordon gets personal about; Welcome back, Rockingham

I’m gonna go out on a not-so-long limb and say a Roush car will probably win at Vegas today. Here’s why:

-- Ford Racing has won half of the 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas and all of them have been by Roush Fenway Racing drivers.
-- Roush Fenway Racing has 12 wins combined in the Cup and Nationwide Series at Vegas (29 total races).
-- Las Vegas Motor Speedway first hosted the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 1997 before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series joined the schedule one
year later. Ford and Roush Fenway Racing have come away with at least one win in either series in 10 of the 15 years the 1.5-mile track has
been in existence.
-- Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards each have two NSCS wins at LVMS while Greg Biffle has one NNS victory at the track.

Jeff Gordon reflects of his career, family

2012 marks the 20-year anniversary of Jeff Gordon’s entry into NASCAR’s top series.
He reflected on how the cars have changed over those years in the sport.

Some of the highlights that stick out in the mind throughout the years is just aero in general, mainly just aerodynamics and tires have been the biggest change. I look back to some shots of the car from ’94 and ’95 on the race track and our air dam is this high off the ground in the corners and the skirts on the right side aren’t sealed off. I just think, ‘Gosh, just think how fast we would have gone if we would have known what we know now.’ I remember when the big sway bars and big rear springs started coming into effect and we started getting beat with that and how I had to adapt to how you drove the car without it rolling like they used to. It used to that you would use all the mechanical grip of the springs and the shocks to make the cars last over a long run and the cars gave up a lot of speed throughout a run so you could manage that. The way we set the cars up were more about tire management and now it’s just all about aerodynamics. I remember that time when it came and that definitely took me a while to adapt to that. We finally did adapt to it and then we won the championship in 2001.”

Then, when asked about how his career affected his decision on when to start a family, he got surprisingly personal – reflecting all the way back to his first marriage.

“Should I just be candid? I’ve been in this sport for 20 years, I’ve been coming in this media center enough that I think you guys know -- I did go through a divorce. There was some planning going on there that a lot of things changed,” Gordon said. “To me, again in my life I have been so fortunate that when things didn’t go exactly as planned, I’ve been very fortunate to bounce back and I was fortunate enough to meet my wife Ingrid that she and I at that time wanted to have children. We felt like it was the right time in our lives. There’s no doubt that I’m very thankful it happened when it did and that it happened with her.

“We have two amazing children and everyday I’m so thankful. I also look at how hard parenting is and I think if I had children when I was 20 -- I got married the first time very young and if I had children at 25 or 26, I don’t think I would have been ready for it. I don’t know if I would have been able to stay as focused on my career. Or one would have suffered more than the other and so I think now I’m able to balance it out, I feel like, pretty well and enjoy both.”

Tony still trash-talking Carl?

At the end of last year, Tony Stewart was playing some head games with Carl Edwards. And maybe he still is this season.

Asked a question regarding Carl Edwards and his showman ways, Tony said:
“Carl’s deal has been circus acts from day one. I’m just kind of a straight up old school, I just want to go out and win races type guys,” Tony said. “I’m not much for jumping through flaming hoops and flipping around and jumping off stuff. I’ll just drive race cars and all that.”

Gotta love snarky Tony.

Odds and ends

-- Sunday’s pre-race offerings include a unique opportunity for race fans. For the first time ever at LVMS, race fans will be able to attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting for the Kobalt Tools 400. Weather permitting, the meeting will take place adjacent to the main stage in the center of the Neon Garage.

--The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dodge Charger R/T will be revealed on Sunday, March 11, in the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (though I’m not sure who exactly will be driving it next year with the Penske defection to Ford)

Welcome back Rockingham

Until about seven years ago, Rockingham was an active Cup track. When that race was cancelled, many thought NASCAR would never go back there.

They were wrong.

The Truck series will return to Rockingham next month, and I’m glad to see this 1-mile track back in action. I always liked it back in the day, and the race in April should be a great one. Congrats to Andy Hillenburg for getting it back up to code and ready for action.

There was a tire test this week at Rockingham, and the drivers were happy to be back.

Jason Leffler, who will drive for Kyle Busch’s team, said after the test:
"I think it's awesome to be back here at Rockingham. It's just a fun track to drive.  You're slipping and sliding the whole time.  It's a multi-groove race track.  Both ends of it are different, so from a driver's standpoint it's a really cool place to race at."
He had some ideas about what it would take to win the race in April.
"Tire management, good handling truck and staying out of trouble.  The same things it takes every week.  Tires are going to
be really important here because the surface is so hard on tires and you would group this place and Darlington together on the
way it treated tires.  It makes for a lot of fun behind the wheel,” Leffler said.
Timothy Peters, who also tested at the track, said: “It’s going to be great action for the fans. You’re going to see people [racing] on the bottom, middle and top.”

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