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Las Vegas, NASCAR Trucks forge fast friendship

Updated September 28, 2017 - 12:36 pm

With all respect due Eddie Kendricks and his 1973 hit record, “Keep on Truckin’ ” might be an even more popular refrain in context of the NASCAR Truck Series and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Saturday’s Las Vegas 350 will mark the 21st time the racing pickups have lapped the big LVMS oval, and myriad local drivers have made racing names for themselves both here and elsewhere on the truck racing circuit.

Here’s a look at some memorable Truck Series moments in Las Vegas, and Truck Series memories made elsewhere by Las Vegas drivers:

—- Before it became an official NASCAR series, truck racing was a demonstration sport founded by off-road racers Dick Landfield, Jimmy Smith, Jim Venable and Frank “Scoop” Vessles. Las Vegan Rob MacCachren, who is still kicking up dust on the various off-road circuits, was one of the demonstration drivers in races that led to formation of the inaugural NASCAR SuperTruck Series in 1995.

—- In 2001, Kyle Busch was a 16-year-old rookie who was sent home from a Truck Series race at Fontana, California, essentially because he was too young to smoke. The race was part of the IndyCar Marlboro 500 weekend, and there was a rule then prohibiting drivers under 18 from competing in an event sponsored by a tobacco company.

—- Brendan Gaughan was a relative newcomer in the Truck Series in 2003. Driving a Dodge Ram entered by his father, Michael, and sponsored by The Orleans, Gaughan won on his hometown track. Las Vegas was the fifth of a series high six truck stops he would win that season en route to a fourth-place finish in final points.

—- Before he became a Daytona 500 pole winner and Coca-Cola 600 race winner, Austin Dillon won the 2010 Truck Series race in Las Vegas. In 2014, Eric Jones came home first at LVMS, helping launch his Cup Series career. With 49 Truck Series wins, 2015 NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch of Las Vegas is second on the all-time victory list but has never won in his hometown, mostly because his Cup schedule precludes him from racing here.

— During a 2016 truck race at Gateway Motorsports Park across the river from St. Louis, local Spencer Gallagher and 2015 Las Vegas Truck Series winner John Wes Townley got into a fight on the track after climbing from their disabled vehicles. Well, it was sort of like a fight. The two wrestled a bit and gave each other noogies like kid brothers and endured ridicule afterward from other NASCAR drivers.

Expanding roots

Remember when NASCAR was considered a Southern sport contested by Southern gentleman (and Jimmy Spencer)? Not so much in the Truck Series.

The entry list for Saturday’s Las Vegas 350 shows only six drivers representing the Deep South, or states close to it. One (Noah Gragson) is from Las Vegas. One (Jennifer Jo Cobb) is a woman. One (Travis Pastrana) is a former action sports star.

The others are good-naturedly referred to as foreigners.

At the Bullring

California driver Jeremy Doss won both Super Late Model 35-lap feature races highlighting racing at the Keith Danser Kids Candy Grab at the 3/8ths-mile oval. Doss was racing a new car as a tuneup for the Oct. 21 Senator’s Cup Fall Classic, one of the marquee events on the local short track calendar.

Chuck Deguevara won the first Super Stocks feature, joining son, Joe, and grandson, Ethan, as Bullring winners. It was also a family affair in the second Super Stock feature. Justin Kiser took the checkered flag, joining brother, Jason, and father, Fred, as past Bullring pacesetters.

Next up at the short oval is Championship Night on Oct. 7 during which eight track championships will be decided.

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

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