This Saturday night the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will have a special treat for the local community when they combine two races into one evening.
They’re calling it the "Double Down in the Desert" beginning at 7 p.m. with the Craftsman Truck series race and then immediately following will be the Champ Car World Series race scheduled to begin around 9.
Combining the two events in one night from two different major series is unprecedented, but early indications is that the concept is being well received by the fans. They’ll get to see two vastly different type of races for the price of one ticket. First, they’ll get to witness the bumping and banging of the truck series and then they’ll watch the sleek super speeds of the Champ Cars. It’ll be the ultimate night for any motor sports enthusiast.
The trucks have been coming to Las Vegas almost every year since the track opened, but this will be the first time the Champ Car series, formally known as CART, have raced in the facility. Last month the Champ cars had a test session at the Speedway and speeds were around the 205 mph range.
Last year, the Truck Series race was a smashing success with nearly 80,000 fans attending. The success of local driver Brendan Gaughan during the season had a lot to do with it. This season Gaughan is in the Nextel Cup series but his Orleans racing team owned by Michael Gaughan will still be racing.
In fact, Gaughan will have two trucks in the race. The first will be driven by Steve Park and the other will be driven by Scott Lynch. Park has been a regular in the series all season, but has had a bumpy road trying to duplicate the great season Brendan had last year.
Coming home and the fact that the team is running better than ever this season gives Park reason to feel they might be able to win like Gaughan did last year. "The Las Vegas race has significance because it is the home of Orleans Racing," Park said. "I know how much it means to the team and the guys being home. It is their home track. The guys on the team keep me pumped up about the race since it is their hometown track. Their enthusiasm rubs off on me."
While the truck series only has a team and crew members from Las Vegas, the Champ Cars have four drivers from Las Vegas that will be driving and they’re four of the top drivers in the series led by Paul Tracy, who everyone will agree might be the most aggressive driver in motor sports.
Tracy is one driver who should probably be in NASCAR where the cars have fenders, but the style suits him very well where he’s at. Along with Tracy in the Vegas stable is his teammate Patrick Carpentier, his buddy Jimmy Vasser, and Alex Tagliani.
Racing at home will have its perks for all four drivers. Family and friends will be in the stands cheering them on and they will be able to wake up in their own bed on race day. Tagliani thinks the Champ Car race at LVMS has been well developed and has great intensity behind it.
"I think Champ Cars is just another way to be entertained in Vegas. It’s a good city and a great race to add to our schedule. I’m excited to be racing here."
With both races in Vegas, of course there will have to be some wagering on it. Stations Casinos has offered a bunch of odds from matchups, odds to win to win, and propositions regarding the races. One of the props asks which Vegas driver will have the best finish in the Champ car race.
Paul Tracy is the favorite followed by his teammate Carpentier. The favorite to win the race is points leader Sebastian Bourdais at 9-5 followed by his teammate Bruno Junquiera at 5-2. There is a tremendous amount of value with several of the drivers that are usually middle of the pack.
These cars do not run at these speeds ever. This is not a road course and street circuit series with the cars being set up more for handling coming in and out of right and left turns. They ran on one oval this season at the Milwaukee Mile where Ryan Hunter-Reay won at 15 to 1 odds placed on him. That same type of scenario could unfold this week because of the unknown factor involving these cars along with the drafting that will help many cars that are slower on the road courses.
Junqueira, Carpentier, and Vasser are probably the most accomplished oval drivers.
The favorite in the truck series race is Roush Racing’s Carl Edwards at 5-1. He’s been the hottest driver in the series over the last six races followed by a resurgent Travis Kvapil (6-1). Series point leader Bobby Hamilton (6-1) and his teammate Chad Chaffin (8-1) also figure to run well this week. The Orleans racing team led by Steve Park is set at 12-1 with Scott Lynch at 20-1. The race will be wide open.
Local signing stops
All 18 drivers entered in the Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona Champ Car World Series event will be signing autographs at the ESPN Zone at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23.
Many of the top NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers, who will compete in the Las Vegas 350, will sign autographs at the NASCAR Street Party on the Third Street Promenade in downtown Las Vegas on Friday, Sept. 24 from 7-8 p.m. The street party, which is being produced in conjunction with the Lady Luck, will have live bands, show cars, interactive games, contests and food and souvenir vendors.
NASCAR visits Dover
Not to be forgotten is the Nextel Cup race in Dover. Las Vegas driver, Kurt Busch (7-1) won last week at New Hampshire and put himself in a tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr (8-1) for the point title lead.
Jeff Gordon (7-1) and Ricky Rudd (50-1) are the active leaders in wins at Dover with four each. Mark Martin (12-1) won back in June and has a great shot to extend the streak of sweeps at Dover to three years.
A few drivers took a giant step backwards last week and have some ground to make up, particularly Tony Stewart (10-1) and Ryan Newman (10-1). Both have two career wins at Dover and have to feel a sense of urgency.