Kaboom!


Joe Gibbs Racing has started 2011 with a bang, but it wasn’t the kind the team had hoped for.

The team was looking for an explosive start to the Sprint Cup season by winning the Daytona 500 in two weeks -- which still might happen -- but instead suffered a fiery one in its race shop.

According to ESPN.com, an explosion or flash fire while testing an engine in Gibbs’ engine department Friday morning (Feb. 4) led to smoke and water damage in the engine shop. No one was reported to have been injured at the sprawling compound in Huntersville, N.C.

The incident began about 9 a.m. ET when a routine test of an engine on one of two engine dynamometers exploded, a team spokesperson told ESPN.

Not the way any team wants to start a season but a least no one was injured. Those Gibbs engines must be packing some extreme power.

INDYCAR: VEGAS STYLE

Still no word on when the return of IndyCar racing to Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be announced. January has come and gone, and now it’s looking like it will happen some time this month.

Personally, I’d wait to make it on the Sunday (March 6) of NASCAR Weekend when every major motor sports journalist in the country will be at LVMS.

Not to worry about the delay: all of my sources say everything looks good that the series will race on Oct. 16, the day after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series night race.

CHAMP WON’T DEFEND AT BULLRING

Dustin Ash won last year’s Super Late Models championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring, but he told me this week he will not return as a full-time driver in the NASCAR All-American Series this year.

The 22-year-old said he might run a few races but plans to focus on serving as crew chief for teammate Robert Ewing.

DRAG TIME IN FLORIDA

Several top pro NHRA teams are testing through Tuesday (Feb. 8) in Palm Beach, Fla., and the noise will head to Las Vegas over the next two weekends.

An NHRA Pacific Division National Open will be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Feb. 11-13 with eighth-mile drag racing for bracket racers and testing opportunities for Top Alcohol dragsters, Funny Cars and Pro Mods.

The following weekend, Feb. 18-20, LVMS will hosts its annual NHRA Pro Stock Showdown in conjunction with a PSCA Nationals and testing by some top NHRA Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car teams.

Visit LVMS.com for information.

NASCAR COUNTDOWN TO VEGAS

NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas isn’t far away.

The big shindig is March 4-6, culminating with the Kobalt Tools 400 Cup race on March 6.

Racing that week opens at the LVMS Dirt Track with the popular World of Outlaws Nationals on the nights of March 2-3. Just added to that show will be races for IMCA Modifieds.

Visit LVMS.com for information.