Things are already underway in Vegas as teams prepare for the upcoming Kobalt 400 race on Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Heading to Vegas signifies the beginning of the yearly “NASCAR Goes West” tradition when teams pack up and head out as per Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series schedules. After Vegas, teams will be doing race action across the Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway in California.
As for packing up stuff, it seems that not all drivers have decided to travel light. For starters, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick is serious about taking a lot of shoes with her. After all, 17 days is a long time to be stuck with only a few pairs of shoes. Meanwhile, it seems that Patrick’s boyfriend, No. 13 Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is also following her lead. Just look at all the bags he packed for the trip. In contrast, Stenhouse’s teammate Bubba Wallace is all about packing light.
Once the teams and drivers arrived in Vegas, they wasted no time taking to the track as test sessions got underway. No. 48 driver Jimmie Johnson topped the first session with a speed of 192.981. He is followed by No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin with a speed of 192.843 and No. 20 driver Matt Kenseth with a speed of 192.137.
For the second test session, No. 43 Aric Almirola took the top spot with a speed of 192.940. He is closely followed by No. 3 Austin Dillon, No. 21 Ryan Blaney and No. 41 Kurt Busch. Meanwhile. No. 16 Greg Biffle rounds up the top five.
Meanwhile, Stewart-Haas Racing has chosen Brian Vickers to take Tony Stewart’s place in the race again, since Daytona. Following the announcement, Vickers said, “It was an honor to fill in for Tony and it will be an honor to fill in for him again this weekend in Las Vegas.” Vickers said he can relate to Stewart’s current situation, having to skip most of the races last year himself due to an open-heart surgery and the reoccurrence of blood clots. During the first testing session, Vickers scored 4th place with a speed of 191.564, just ahead of teammate Patrick.
As for Stewart, the team says he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet this year. Nonetheless, Stewart has retained radio contact with the team throughout the races in Daytona and Atlanta. Moreover, he is also with them in Vegas and will even appear in a live Q&A session with Patrick at The Mirage on Saturday.