Las Vegas Motor Speedway Set to Host Two-Day MENCS Test

Wednesday, Jan 30 1256

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will invade Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a two-day test session at the 1.5-mile oval. Teams will test the new rules package for 2019 that will see slower speeds, which will increase corner speeds and allow drivers to draft. The goal of the new package is to provide better overall racing for the series.

A total of 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will participate in the two-day test. In addition, there will be four NASCAR XFINITY Series teams and three manufacture Wheel Force cars on-site, raising the total to 21 cars.

CAR:

DRIVER:

00

Landon Cassill

1

Kurt Busch

2

Brad Keselowski

3

Austin Dillon

6

Ryan Newman

13

Ty Dillon

14

Clint Bowyer

18

Kyle Busch

21

Paul Menard

43

Bubba Wallace

47

Ryan Preece

48

Jimmie Johnson

51

Cody Ware

95

Matt DiBenedetto

CWF

Ross Chastain

FWF

David Ragan

TWF

Drew Herring

8

Zane Smith

9

Noah Gragson

18

Riley Herbst

98

Chase Briscoe


Jimmie Johnson, who enters the new season with a new crew chief, will test at Las Vegas for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson also participated in a 2019 rules package test at Atlanta Motor Speedway awhile back.

“The speeds are going to be a little bit higher than what we had at Charlotte. And then, I think depending on the track, it’s really going to showcase this rules package and at some tracks, I think it’ll put on a great show and at other tracks the potential is there but it might not do what we want,” said Johnson. “I think we all new that inside the competition space of NASCAR teams and drivers and even NASCAR has as well. They needed to make a decision. They needed to make a change. We know this isn’t going to be the perfect package everywhere, but I do feel like at the majority of the tracks it will be highly entertaining.”

Johnson later spoke about the unknowns of the package going into the test during Hendrick Motorsports media day. The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion mentioned a lot of tire fall-off at Atlanta and Auto Club Speedway.

“Vegas has so much grip, I think it will be pretty forgiving for the package and I think will put on a pretty strong show,” Johnson said. “I did the Atlanta tire test last year and there was a lot of tire falloff. I don’t know how the package is going to do in that environment. At California, again a lot of tire falloff. Cars can start close together and then spread out. So, I think the tracks where the tire falloff is low, we will all have grip regardless of where you’re running on the track; and dirty air won’t make that big of a difference, and it’ll be really entertaining and put on a good show.”

Chase Elliott, Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, will not participate in the two-day test. Elliott is, however, looking forward to hear what Johnson has to say on the new package at the desert oval.

“Yeah, I don't have the test. I think Jimmie is testing this week, but I think it's going to be a valuable test. Vegas comes up quick on the schedule, and I think Vegas will be a good indicator as to how the package is going to race at some of the -- a little more freshly paved mile-and-a-halfs that we'll go to,” said Elliott. So I think it'll be interesting to hear his take and honestly kind of let them do their thing and then digest it, and then talk to them after they've done all that. Yeah, look forward to talking to him about it, but I think it'll be valuable for all of us, and Jimmie is a great asset to go test. He does the best of explaining things and feeling them in the car and then being able to put it into words for the rest of us to understand. So he's a perfect candidate to go out there and do it.”

Denny Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart will also be sitting on the sidelines as Kyle Busch will participate for Joe Gibbs Racing. The duo joined the media via teleconference this week and mentioned how drivers and teams can attack the new package in many ways.

“With this year's rules package, it's really exciting because there's just so many different ways to attack it, and it's really going to depend on the weekend and the track,”said Gabehart. “I think you're going to see a lot of people, especially early on, trying to figure this out, and that's going to change from racetrack to racetrack, which is going to create good racing and I think a lot of comers and goers week to week.”

As for Denny Hamlin, it’s seeing the driver data.

“I know for me personally, it's all about kind of driver data, seeing how my teammates are driving this new package, the things that they're going to get speed out of it,” said Hamlin. “That's kind of the gist of what I got.  I think Chris will have a lot bigger scope of things that he happens to look at other than just the driver aspect. He's going to have more data to look over than certainly I will.”

Testing at the 1.5-mile oval will begin at 11 a.m. ET. and run until 10 p.m. ET. on Thursday. Testing will pick back up on Friday starting at 11 a.m. ET. and conclude at 4 p.m. ET. The sessions will include general on-track time along with three 25-lap races on Thursday.

A portion of the grandstands and pit road will be open to fans free of charge.

NASCAR.com will live stream a portion of the test on Thursday from 11 a.m. ET. to 3 p.m. ET. It’s unclear whether or not timing and scoring will be offered.

The test comes just nine days before NASCAR on-track activity begins at Daytona International Speedway.

Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.