Two popular additions have joined the list of entrants for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Veteran Mark Martin will drive a Turner Motorsports Chevrolet in the Sam’s Town 300, and Jennifer Jo Cobb, driving for 2nd Chance Motorsports, will join Danica Patrick as the only women in the field.
Martin has won the local Nationwide race three times, most recently in 2008. He will also drive Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 entry the next day in the Sprint Cup race, an event he won in 1998.
"The races we picked for both series are personal favorites of mine," said Martin, who will compete in at least three other Nationwide races and a few truck events in 2011. "I’ve got to get back to Victory Lane in the Dollar General car so I can keep Kyle (Busch) from breaking my Nationwide series record."
Busch, expected to compete in the race, has won 42 times in the series to Martin’s 48.
Cobb, who has raced in five Nationwide events, placed 17th in the Camping World Truck standings last season, the best finish ever by a woman in one of NASCAR’s three national series.
■ TESTING — The first major Sprint Cup test session begins Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Four teams participated in tire testing on the newly repaved 2.5-mile oval Dec. 15 and 16, but next week’s three-day session will be open to all teams.
NASCAR is soon expected to announce the addition of a test day for Nationwide teams March 3 at Las Vegas.
The new-generation Nationwide cars — the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and revamped Toyota Camry and Chevy Impala — will be used full time for the first time this season and make their initial visit to Las Vegas.
Spectators will be admitted free and allowed to enter the Neon Garage, where all participating drivers will sign autographs from 2 to 3 p.m. in between a pair of two-hour practice sessions.
■ ANOTHER CUT FOR FONTANA — After taking away the fall Cup race from Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR has shortened the March 27 race at the Fontana, Calif., track from 500 miles to 400.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0247. Go to lvrj.com/motorsports for more news and commentary.