NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, a Las Vegas native, first Nextel Cup driver on the repaved 1.5-mile tri-oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Tuesday. The new surface is part of a $30 million renovation.
When Las Vegas Motor Speedway was being built in 1995, Kurt Busch would sneak a peek at the construction. But he was never invited inside for a tour, let alone one with red-carpet treatment.
Ten years later, the 28-year-old Nextel Cup star was invited back as the featured guest Tuesday when the speedway officially unveiled its repaved 1.5-mile tri-oval. the centerpiece of the speedway’s $30 million makeover.
Banking in the corners has been nearly doubled from 12 degrees and 20 degrees in an attempt to create faster and more exciting races, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway park officials say.
Busch became the first NASCAR Nextel Cup racer to drive unofficial laps on the track. He used a car borrowed from the Richard Petty Driving Experience that was painted and adorned with decals identical to Busch’s No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
“Everything about (the new surface) is right,” Kurt Busch said. “The transitions into the corners, the banking, the speed. … So much speed, so much adrenaline.”
In the decade since Kurt Busch watched the Las Vegas Motor Speedway being built, he won the 2004 Cup championship for Roush Racing.
This year, however, brought changes. The Durango High graduate is adjusting well to his new Penske team as he replaces Rusty Wallace. Through 21 races, Busch has won once and claimed two poles. Five races before the Chase for the Cup begins, he sits 13th in the point standings.
Though Busch’s goal of making the Chase hangs in the balance, his disposition continues to be mostly sunny in his first season with Penske. He’s happy to be with a new team, but his personal life has undergone a major change. Two weeks ago, he married Eva Bryan, his girlfriend of three years.
After spending Tuesday in Las Vegas, Busch will stop off today at his home in Concord, N.C., before heading to Watkins Glen, N.Y., where he’ll compete in both NASCAR Cup and Busch series races this weekend.
Taking some laps around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway track teased Kurt Busch as to how much faster he could race during the March 11 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Cup race. Visit NASCAR com for all of your NASCAR ticket needs.
“It’s hard to tell how much faster it will be, but I can’t wait for our test session in January,” the Las Vegas native said, adding that lap times might be two or three seconds quicker than on the flatter track.
The track and pit road will be ready for the Sept. 23 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, but the new media center, fan interactive area, the Neon Garage, Las Vegas Motor Speedway park will not be completed until the March Cup race weekend.
Source: LV Review Journal
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NASCAR Nextel champ Kurt Busch first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.