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Aaron McMorran makes LVMS Bullring history with heavy heart

On the night before he would become the first driver in Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring history to clinch two division championships in the same season, the home in which Aaron McMorran grew up — in which his parents still resided — burned down.

This sort of puts a penalty for speeding on pit road in big boy auto racing into perspective.

And yet the first thing McMorran mentioned on a history-making night for the local short-trackers were the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victims.

“I wish we were able to celebrate, but I was born and raised here, and seeing what happened Sunday broke my heart,” said McMorran, a street equipment operator for the City of Boulder City. “My parents’ house burned down last night, and we’re just trying to get through it. All my guys know how much I love them, and thanks everybody.”

Season championships in Grand American Modifieds and NASCAR Bombers were the third and fourth for McMorran, whose son, Aaron II, began competing at the Bullring this year in the USLCI Bandolero Bandits division. The old man has won 26 Bullring feature races, and sometimes shares his enthusiasm for motor sports with area elementary students by taking his car — or cars — to community outreach events.

While McMorran kept a stiff upper lip at the track, a post on his Instagram account captured more of his raw emotion after learning of the fire.

“(Expletive) week for our family, childhood home that my parents still live in burned mostly down,” it said. “Glad they are safe. All of their personal belongings are gone, and anything I ever accomplished as a kid likely gone with it.”

Herbst pursues rookie honors

Las Vegas’ Riley Herbst trails South Carolina’s Gus Dean by two points in the Rookie of the Year battle in the ARCA series, with the race between the two to be decided at the season-ending Kansas 150 on Oct. 20 at Kansas Speedway.

“We’re going to try to do what we do every week — try to win the race,” said Herbst, an 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing protege, about competing on another big track for the first time. “I’m so proud of these JGR guys. They act like this ARCA team is their fourth Cup team.”

A high finish also could help Herbst improve his position in the season championship of the NASCAR steppingstone series. He won a race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and sits fifth in points heading to the Heartland.

Gragson wins at Winchester

Another Las Vegas teenager won a significant Super Late Model in Indiana, as Noah Gragson set the pace in the Winchester 400 on the Winchester Speedway high banks.

Driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports entry on an off weekend from the NASCAR Truck Series, Gragson chased down leader Harrison Burton in the closing laps and picked up the win when Burton hit the wall and had to pit for repairs. Gragson added his name to an impressive list of Winchester 400 winners that includes NASCAR’s Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.

NASCAR steps up for shooting victims

It wasn’t announced publicly, but during the drivers meeting before Sunday’s Cup Series playoff race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corp., Speedway Motorsports Inc., and NASCAR’s other tracks and extended family said they will contribute $250,000 to victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

Also, Xfinity Series driver Spencer Gallagher of Las Vegas said in a text that DriversforVegas.com has raised $23,000 so far through sales of VegasStrong T-shirts and stickers. NASCAR drivers Gallagher, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan and Noah Gragson of Las Vegas, along with pit road reporter Jamie Little, are combining on the fundraiser in partnership with Zappos, which will match 100 percent of donations up to $1 million.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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