Sunday, March 9, 2014

Three observations from Sunday's NASCAR race at Las Vegas

   Three observations from Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400:

   - There have been several doubters of whether NASCAR’s new Chase format would live up to its promises. Three races into the 2014 season, it’s safe to say it’s already delivered. The is no way Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team elects to roll the dice on fuel three races into the season to gain a second win if he wasn’t already virtually ensured a spot in the Chase. He and his crew chief, Steve Letarte, confirmed that after the race. And the downside – which really isn’t one – is there are already three very talented drivers known who will battle for the title – Brad Keselowski, Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick.

   - For much of the weekend, it appeared Danica Patrick may be primed for one of her better NASCAR performances. She was fast in practice on Friday and did well in qualifying. She was also good in Saturday’s first practice session. In Saturday’s final practice, however, she seemed to fall off and in Sunday’s race she quickly fell back in the field. But it wasn’t all bad, by the end of the race Patrick finished 21st, one lap down, but she was the highest finisher of all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers.

   - No idea if it’s a sign of things to come but fans certainly turned out in much larger numbers this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than a year ago. The tone was set on Friday which saw one of the largest qualifying crowds in several years for any NASCAR track. It’s much too early to tell if NASCAR changes this season are the reason, but it’s safe to say they haven’t hurt.

Chip Ganassi Racing adds Dylan Kwasniewski as development driver

   Two-time NASCAR K&N Pro series champion and current Nationwide series driver Dylan Kwasniewski has joined Chip Ganassi Racing as a development driver.
   Kwasniewski, 18, will continue to compete in Nationwide with Turner Scott Motorsports but team owner Chip Ganassi hopes to move the 18-year-old Las Vegas native to the Sprint Cup series in two to three years.

   “This young man has impressed us from the moment we saw him,” Ganassi said. His poise, skill and determination on the race track are remarkable for someone so young.”

   Kwasniewski called the move "a dream come true."

   "I have wanted to do nothing but race for as long as I can remember," he said. "I look forward to being part of Chip's organization and will hopefully be a key contributor to its future success."