Outlaws back; same old story

The World of Outlaws winged, sprint car series returned to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on Thursday night for the first time in three years. And Donny Schatz picked up where he left off on the half-mile oval.

The reigning Outlaws series champion and driver for Tony Stewart Motorsports won Thursday before about 8,000 fans to post his sixth A-Main feature at the track, including the one in 2006.

It’s great to have the Outlaws back. Scheduling the race as part of NASCAR week guarantees a good crowd with the thousands of fans spending the latter part of the week camping on speedway grounds.

It would be even better if a fall event were added to the LVMS schedule.
For a complete recap of the late-finishing Outlaws race, go to the new lvrj.com/motorsports Web site later today and look under the Open Wheel/Bikes section on the home page.

 Although sales for Sunday’s Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race have picked up the past week, a sell out remains a long shot.

Speedway president Chris Powell didn’t panic like many other tracks including Daytona and Fontana, Calif., by offering discounts over the past couple of months. He also didn’t have blocks of seats that have not sold the past few years that he could discount.

Powell also felt a last-minute sale would not be fair to the more than 60,000 fans — the amount believed to have attended Sunday’s Fontana race — who already had renewed tickets by early summer at full price.

So to help ensure a near capacity crowd of 150,000 this Sunday, Powell gave away tickets, with about 1,000 going to the “Welcome Home Troops” organization for Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen.

About the same number was provided to Clark County School District workers and other worthy local groups.

Very nice touch.
Who says nothing is free anymore in Las Vegas?
And there couldn’t be two more deserving groups.

 A year ago I was excited Michael McDowell of Phoenix was getting a chance to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Back in the mid-1990s, I created a marketing kit for Michael when he was a top go-cart racer. He was 12. A few year ago I started to see his name pop up as a successful sports car racer.

He made the jump to stock cars a couple of years ago and got his big break last year when he was signed to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing. His stint was short-lived and he was dropped from the team late in the season. I blame his disappointing results more on the team than his driving skills.

McDowell is back this year in the Nationwide Series with Jodi Geschickter’s JTG-Daugherty Motorsports. McDowell finished 14th on Feb. 14 at Daytona and is 20th in points after two races.

But he received something Wednesday that tops any championship.

He and wife Jami welcomed their first child to the family. Their little girl, Trace McDowell, is named after Michael’s mother Tracey, who died of cancer in 2006.

His biggest challenge this weekend will be stuffing his smile inside his No. 47 Toyota.

And if you like to play the numbers game, “7” is magical for McDowell. Trace weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces when she was born at 7 a.m.

“I’m headed to Las Vegas to do what I love to do, and I have a new fan, and I’m rolling all 7’s,” he said in a press release.
 “I wouldn’t bet against me this week.”

Neither would I.

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