NASCAR haulers wage race of their own


Travel logistics for NASCAR teams need to be as efficient as a race car's fuel mileage.

No time is more critical than the first three weeks of the season, including this weekend's races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After the Feb. 14 Daytona 500, teams headed back to their shops in North Carolina and then embarked for California a week ago.

Teams in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series had to be prepared for last weekend's races in Fontana, Calif., and this weekend's races in Las Vegas.

Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Bobby Hutchens said he needed to have seven cars ready for the first three events before heading to Daytona. Stewart-Haas fields teams for drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

Most NASCAR teams arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday night or early Monday morning, after leaving Auto Club Speedway following the completion of Sunday's race.

Many, including Stewart-Haas, set up temporary work areas in the South Point parking lot. A few teams are working in the South Point Racing shop (the former home of the Gaughan family's NASCAR truck team) near the speedway.

Stewart-Haas and most other major Cup teams will have their primary car for the Las Vegas race delivered to their temporary pit area. At that point, at least one race car, parts and some equipment used in California will be traded for fresh supplies.

"As soon as 'happy hour' is done we'll call the shop to let them know what they need to bring," Hutchens said before Saturday afternoon's final practice in California.

Two truck drivers would then begin the 33-hour, 2,200-mile trek to Las Vegas -- and make a quick turnaround (workers back at the shop have to start preparing for a March 7 race in Hampton, Ga.).

Most regular traveling crews will stay in Las Vegas this week to get ready by Thursday, when about 60 team transporters will parade down Las Vegas Boulevard at 6 p.m. en route to the speedway's Neon Garage.

Newman's No. 39 Toyota Camry needs extra work to change its primary graphics to promote Tornado's taquitos, after the car was dressed up to promote Haas Automation at Fontana and the U.S. Army at Daytona. Hutchens said it takes at least half a day to apply the full-color vinyl wrap.

The team also needs 176 new crew shirts, 11 new protective firesuits for crew members working on pit road and four new driver suits for Newman that colorfully promote the taquitos.

"We'll swap out some of that stuff too so we don't have too much weight on the truck when it goes back," Hutchens said.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit lvrj.com/motorsports for more on Stewart-Haas Racing.

 

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