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Second NASCAR date in Vegas signed and delivered
by Tom Zulewski
Mar 17, 2017 | 263 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The moment was at least six years in the making, but the pride radiated across the faces of those from Las Vegas Motor Speedway who gathered for a major announcement one week ago at the Cashman Center.

With the help of a sponsorship agreement with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the 1.5-mile oval will have a second NASCAR race weekend, starting with the 2018 season. The agreement will bring fans an opportunity to see one of the races in the fall as part of the 10-race Monster Energy Cup playoffs.

“This is something that’s been a long time in the making,” said Speedway Motorsports president Marcus Smith. “The support NASCAR receives from Las Vegas is phenomenal. Race fans have spoken very loudly, and they want a second race.”

To accommodate the change, SMI will remove the fall race weekend, including the Camping World Truck Series race, from its track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as well as the stand-alone XFINITY race from Kentucky Speedway. The combination of moves will create a pair of tripleheader weekends at Las Vegas, the only NASCAR track to hold the distinction.

“It means everything having grown up here, watching the track being built, winning championships at the Bullring, then winning in NASCAR,” said 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, who was in attendance with older brother and fellow driver Kurt Busch at the announcement. “Congratulations go out to the city, but most importantly, to the race fans.”

One side benefit the newly-formed tripleheader weekends gives Kyle Busch is the chance to race in the Truck Series. That race has run as a standalone in the fall during the Cup race at Dover.

“This is a fantastic day,” Kurt Busch added. “This town has a big sports atmosphere, and it takes a lot of people to pull it all together.”

Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell said he won’t have to hear one of the two most frequently asked questions he’s heard over the last few years with the scheduling announcement.

“I’m always asked ‘is this job fun?’ and ‘when are you going to get a second race,’” he said. “The NHL is here. The NFL wants to be here, and we have two National League MVPs (Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant) who are from here. This will have an impact long into the future.”

That impact will be felt by XFINITY Series driver Brendan Gaughan, whose father, Michael, owns the South Point Hotel and Casino.

“It’s not lost on my family how important this is,” Gaughan said. “The fans are the winners. If you have a choice to go to any track in the country, there’s no other place. It’s a perfect fit.”

While nothing is finalized yet for how the races will be scheduled, Powell called it “likely” that both weekends will feature the Truck Series race Friday, XFINITY on Saturday, and Monster Energy Cup Series on Sunday.

-Got to give props when they’re due, and the SUU men’s basketball team came up with a fairly monumental win at the Big Sky tournament March 7. Not only did they wipe out a 15-point second-half deficit, but practically willed themselves to a 109-105 victory in triple overtime over the Montana State Bobcats in Reno, Nevada.

If you read this space last week, I looked into my crystal ball and thought the T-Birds didn’t have a realistic chance in a certain fire-laden place to win and advance – curse you, deadline. History has a way of being rendered meaningless on occasion, and SUU’s performance that didn’t end until nearly midnight eight days ago created its own marvelous moment for the memory bank.

It was the T-Birds’ first postseason tournament win since the final Summit League season in 2012, when they beat Oakland in the opening round. They lost in the next round to South Dakota State.

Whether or not March 7, 2017 becomes a day that lives in SUU basketball infamy and propels the program out of the depths of futility remains to be seen, though. One win is nice, but many more over a full season will be even better.

Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TommyZee81 or email tominator19@yahoo.com.

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