7 reasons to care about NASCAR this weekend

NASCAR comes to town this weekend for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series races, and there are more reasons to care than just because traffic is going to be a mess. Here are 7 of them:

It helps the economy

As many as 125,000 people will make their way to Las Vegas this weekend for the races and hundreds of side-parties and related events. That translates to about $83 million in local spending — and further insurance against you having to pay state income tax in the near future.

The events

Speaking of parties and events, there are plenty to take advantage of outside of the races themselves. That includes the Neon Garage, which is basically the Disneyland of NASCAR. Get more info here.

NASCAR drivers are also more accessible than top athletes in other sports. Here’s a list of events and driver appearances.

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch will race in the Kobalt 400 Cup event on Sunday. Catch a preview as he gears up to become the fourth driver in auto racing history to attempt the double — driving in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Local drivers

Four Las Vegas drivers compete in NASCAR’s top two series, Sprint Cup and Nationwide. Kurt Busch is racing in the Kobalt 400 Cup, Brendan Gaughan and Dylan Kwasniewski are racing in the Boyd Gaming 300 Nationwide and Kyle Busch is racing in both. Oh, and Kwasniewski is only 18 years old. What were you doing at 18?

The big personalities

Jeff Gordon teamed up with Pepsi MAX recently to prank an auto blogger (and the result was hilarious — check it out here). Everyone’s in love with Danica Patrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. just won his second Daytona 500 a decade after the first and has to refocus and kick it into gear this weekend. There’s a lot of personality to NASCAR drivers on and off the track.

It might be the last time you see Jeff Burton there

Jeff Burton is kicking off his final Sprint Cup season on Sunday. He’s running a limited schedule of races in 2014. Rumor has it Burton is looking to wean himself off the wheel and make a move into the announcing booth.

What else is there, really?

We’re coming into the dry season, as far as sports go. Regular season baseball hasn’t started, the NCAA tournament is almost here, but not quite, and football is over. A handful of NBA regular season games are being nationally televised over the weekend. And then there’s NASCAR.

Brett Steidler contributed to this story.

Contact Stephanie Grimes at Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes

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