Higher Vegas banking a disaster waiting to happen

UPDATE #6 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as the Nextel race has turned into a crashfest and it's not 1/4 over yet.

03/11/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today and may go to 'fact' after Sunday's Nextel Cup race. The combination of higher banking and harder Goodyear tire led to a bevy of crashes and a race-record 12 cautions. "If you look at the last 36 hours and look at how many cars we've torn up, …if I were car owners, I would send bills to the race track," Tony Stewart said. "Look at how many good teams and good drivers crashed today. Are they going to say that we forgot how to drive?"

01/31/07 The most frequent complaint heard at "New and improved" LVMS was "Fast — too fast!"

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said his "car wasn't driving that good around the bottom" but he picked up speed as he moved up the banking. Junior compared the redesigned track to Atlanta, adding that "the bumps going into (turn) one are really bad" and that the car was carrying a lot of load into the corners.

The afternoon session introduced a whole new set of problems, as many teams searched for balance and suffered an abnormally high tally of cut and blistered tires. Greg Biffle wadded up his car after he cut a tire early in testing. But when Kasey Kahne blew a right front tire and destroyed Chassis 128 — the best car of the stable that carried him to most of the No. 9's six wins last year — the garage took notice.

"That was my car," said a remorseful Kahne, who had posted the fastest lap of the day (29.239 seconds at 184.685 mph) in his favorite chassis. "That was the car, the good car. We don't have cars that are better, but we have cars that are that good."

Jeff Burton was far from satisfied after his day of testing. While he applauded track builders for canvassing the garage, Burton wonders how the suggestions are lost in translation.

"They screwed up Charlotte and didn't do this place any favors," Burton said. "What we do is inherently dangerous, and the racing doesn't have to be this fast. It's hard to get a feel for it. I don't see how too fast racing makes for good racing.

"The tires have to be as hard as bricks or they will explode. How many tires have we seen blow out today, three, four? We can expect tire problems when we built this type of a racetrack." Fox Sports

01/31/07 "It's just so fast around the bottom. I mean we're running ridiculously fast speeds," Tony Stewart said. "It's stupid to be running this fast in a Cup car, I think. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me why we're running mid-to-low 29-second laps in a 3,400-pound stock car around here."

Kyle Busch, another former series champion and a Las Vegas native, also shrugged off the higher speeds after testing two of his Penske Racing Dodges.

"The speeds keep getting quicker and quicker and the lap times keep getting lower and lower," Busch said. "Where is going to be the point break with the tires? With the engines?

"There's really a unique aspect of racing cars, going fast and trying to be safe at the same time. We challenge ourselves most of the time at a new track like Charlotte last year or Texas when it was first built. Atlanta still holds the ultimate record for speed at 197 on a downforce type car. We're always going fast and we're going to continue to go fast. There's always going to be that question of if we are going too fast."

01/30/07 Paul Menard had the fastest speed during Nextel Cup testing at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, going 187.099 mph in the draft in the No. 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet. Tuesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track 1 mile shorter than Daytona, Menard went faster. Menard topped Tuesday morning's chart with a fast lap of 188.370 mph as speeds continued to rise at the newly configured track. All but two drivers, AJ Allmendinger and Brandon Ash, topped the 180 mph mark. Scenedaily.com The Nextel Cup track record of 174.904 is sure to be broken as the drivers risk their lives on a track now too fast because of the steeper banking.

01/30/07 ‘Under Construction’ seemed to be the theme Monday at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway Monday. Over 90 cars were on hand at the track that is receiving a major infield ‘face-lift’ before teams return in early March for the third Nextel Cup race of the season. The track surface was already reconfigured and paved in the summer of 2006, but this was the first time that most Cup teams spent significant time at the track. The first of two days of testing did not go without incident with five on-track accidents. Drivers, crew chiefs and engineers were all left scratching their heads figuring out what it will take to win big at Vegas in March. The teams of Tony Raines, Reed Sorenson, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, and Greg Biffle are down to one car for Tuesday’s final day of testing after crashing on Monday.

Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team had a solid day of testing. Labonte turned in the 27th fastest time of the day. Crew Chief Paul Andrews discussed the teams test session and what he thought of the accidents.

“The test has been up-and-down," said Andrews. “We didn’t start off great, but we got pretty good late afternoon. We were pretty happy, but maybe we messed up a little bit. We’re not as happy as we want to be, but we keep trying stuff. We were pretty good in the early afternoon and happy. We just need to go back to that point. We didn’t finish that off.

“All the wrecks are scary. It makes you nervous about the race. We just don’t know what to think, what caused them. Some guys have lost tires and some haven’t. We’ll have to see, but it’s pretty scary."

01/29/07 Las Vegas Motor Speedway increased the banking in the turns from 12 to 20 degrees during the off-season. In doing so maybe now they will kill or injure someone.

"We're running ridiculously fast speeds," Tony Stewart said. "I mean, it's stupid to be running this fast in a Cup car [on a 1.5-mile track]. I think, in my opinion, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me why we're running mid to low 29-second laps in a 3,400-pound stock car around here."

Kasey Kahne agreed that the speeds were high. "You're going fast," Kahne said.

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