Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2019

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Columnist Brian Hilderbrand: Tracy prepared to take first spin in stock car

Brian Hilderbrand covers motor sports for the Las Vegas Sun. His motor sports notebook appears Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] or (702) 259-4089.

Las Vegas resident Paul Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, is scheduled to begin his NASCAR experiment today with Richard Childress Racing.

Tracy, 36, told reporters at this past weekend's San Jose Grand Prix that he would test an ARCA stock car today at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., and then test a NASCAR Nextel Cup car next week at Michigan International Speedway. Tracy said he was hoping to make his Nextel Cup debut Aug. 21 at Michigan.

"If everything goes OK, I'm going to drive the (No.) 33 at Michigan," Tracy was quoted as saying. Kerry Earnhardt has driven the No. 33 in two races this season, Clint Bowyer piloted it in one race and Brian Simo drove the car to a 10th-place finish in June at Infineon Raceway.

Tracy, who has won 30 Champ Car races in his 15-year open-wheel career, does not yet have a contract to drive in Champ Car next season.

STEWART 'FURIOUS': Tony Stewart wasn't at all happy when he heard that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had sold the naming rights to this weekend's Brickyard 400 Nextel Cup race and renamed it the "Allstate 400 at the Brickyard."

"I'm not saddened -- I'm furious by it, to be honest," Stewart, an Indiana native, said Monday. "It would be like saying the McDonald's 500 for the Daytona 500 this year; I don't understand what they were thinking there.

"I mean, there's one thing in breaking some traditions but to commercialize everything, I think they could have done it different. I think they could have (called it) The Brickyard 400 presented by whoever it is. We don't make the rules and I guess it's not our pockets that we're worried about filling. They're going to do what they're going to do from that standpoint, but I'm very disappointed by it."

Stewart also said he was "freaked out" when he heard NASCAR's stock cars would be racing at Indy but conceded, "In hindsight, I think it's been one of the most positive things for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

TAKING A BREAK: Las Vegas native Kurt Busch, the reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, spent his final off-weekend of the season watching the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix -- in person.

"I'm intrigued by this sport, on how it looks and how the people operate, and just the excitement," Busch said. "It is so different for me (compared to NASCAR). It is my only off weekend and here I am at a racetrack halfway around the world.

"I am just beyond belief when I look at (the F1 cars). The technology, the amount of money they pour into them, it's quite the show. I'd love to have the opportunity to try and drive one."

BRIEFLY: Former Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher led for seven laps during Saturday night's NASCAR West Series race at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., and became the first woman to lead a lap in the history of the series. Fisher, who qualified third on the .646-mile paved oval, finished the 200-lap race on the lead lap, in 11th place. Las Vegas resident Scott Lynch finished third and maintained his lead in the series standings. ...

NASCAR Nextel Cup star Bobby Labonte teamed with open-wheel star Roberto Moreno and finished 14th in the Daytona Prototype class in Sunday's Porsche 250 Rolex series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. ... Following a monthlong break, racing will resume Saturday night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with competition in Super Late Models, Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, Thunder Roadsters, Bandoleros and Bullring Bombers. Spectator gates open at 5 p.m., qualifying begins at 6 and opening ceremonies start at 7:15.