Nationwide teams get extra practice time to adjust to cars

A bonus for this year's Las Vegas NASCAR Week is today's special practice sessions for Sam's Town 300 Nationwide Series teams at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The sessions will allow teams to adjust to new "next generation" cars racing on the track for the first time.

The cars have added safety features and other changes including characteristics of Ford's Mustang and Dodge's Challenger. Toyota will run a version of its Camry, and Chevrolet its Impala.

The new cars were used in four races last year and will run in 33 races this year, including Saturday's Sam's Town 300.

Admission is free to watch practices from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. A special autograph session -- also free -- in the Neon Garage infield area is scheduled to include Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Kenny Wallace and Steven Wallace.

■ TRUCKIN' ON THE STRIP -- The popular NASCAR Hauler Parade will stage at the South Point tonight before heading north on Las Vegas Boulevard at 6 p.m. for the trek to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

About 50 NASCAR 18-wheelers will proceed down the Strip to Sahara Avenue before jumping onto Interstate 15 to complete the journey to the speedway.

■ DRIVER AUCTION/FAN WALK -- The Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities will present its annual Racing Memorabilia Auction under a new format.

Fans can bid to ride around the track in the back of a pick-up truck with their favorite NASCAR driver during the prerace driver introduction lap. The auction for Cup drivers is Saturday at the Sprint Experience on the midway, immediately following the Sam's Town 300.

Cup drivers in the live auction include Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer. ...

The Speedway Children's Charity Track Walk is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday. Fans can walk around the 1.5-mile oval. Registration is in the SCC tent, near the LVMS office building at the corner of Speedway and Checkered Flag boulevards.

Registration at the tent is required, along with an advance donation of $25 or $35 that includes a special T-shirt. Children 16 and younger are free with a paying adult.

■ NEON GUESTS -- Racing legends Harry Gant and John Force, and 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion Robert Hight and Coutney Force will be among celebrities signing autographs during the weekend.

Gant will be on hand from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday in the Neon Garage.

Force, the 15-time and reigning NHRA Funny Car season champion, his daughter Courtney and their teammate Hight will sign autographs from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Neon Garage. Force will debut his team's new Road Show caravan display at the speedway all weekend.

■ ON RADIO -- Cup and Nationwide races will be broadcast by the Performance Racing Network in Southern Nevada on KNUU-AM (970).