Leila Navidi / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
You don’t have to have a ticket to this weekend’s NASCAR races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to be part of the action.
There are several free events leading up to Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400, the annual Sprint Cup Series race in Las Vegas.
On Thursday, admission to the speedway will be free for the Nationwide Series Race practice run. Cars will be on the track from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Drivers will also be signing autographs from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Several drivers will be making appearances and signing autographs throughout Southern Nevada all week, including Las Vegas’ Kyle Busch, who will sign autographs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at M&M’s World on the Strip.
Also Thursday on the Strip at 6 p.m. is the NASCAR Hauler Parade.
The haulers, the 18-wheelers that carry the race cars and equipment, start at South Point and proceed to Sahara Avenue before entering Interstate 15 to complete the journey to the speedway. About 50 haulers are scheduled to be in the parade.
Carl Edwards, one of the top drivers on the Sprint Series who won the Las Vegas stop in 2008, said he enjoys racing each year in Southern Nevada.
“Vegas is great. If we raced in Vegas once a month, you wouldn’t hear any complaints from anyone in NASCAR,” Edwards said last week while in Las Vegas to promote the race. “We really enjoying coming here. The fans, they seems to be knowledgeable fans who like to come out to the track.”
Reigning Sprint Series Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is the defending champion in Las Vegas. Johnson, who has won four of the last six years, is favored to repeat — with odds of 9-5 — by the Las Vegas Hilton.
Here are appearances. Information is from the speedway’s website.
Tuesday, March 1:
• Appearance by World of Outlaws Sprint Cars drivers Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Levi Jones and Bryan Clauson from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at J.D. Byrider, 3024 Fremont St.
Wednesday, March 2:
• Dale Earnhardt Foundation Celebrity Poker Tournament at 4 p.m. at the Stratosphere. The following are scheduled to appear: Kerry Earnhardt, Taylor Earnhardt, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Matt Crafton, Eric McClure, Jeff Green, Carl Long, Robert Richardson Jr., Tommy Baldwin, Mike Skinner, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Michael McDowell, Charles Lewandoski, television personality Riki Rachtman, Morgan Shepherd and Jeremy Clements. Fans can support the foundation by playing in the poker tournament ($150 entry fee). The winner will receive $2,500 in cash and Dale Earnhardt souvenir merchandise. Spectator tickets are $20.
• An appearance by Brad Keselowski from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Discount Tire, 6565 East Lake Mead Blvd.
Thursday, March 3:
• Tony Stewart — Office Depot, 1435 West Craig Road, North Las Vegas, 12:30 p.m. Wristbands (600) will be distributed for autographs (one per person). The wristbands may be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis at the store beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. Fans with a wristband must be in line no later than 1:30 p.m. to receive an autograph.
• Free driver autograph session from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Neon Garage at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during NASCAR Nationwide Series testing. Admission to the speedway is free for this practice day. Autograph session ends promptly at 2:30 p.m. to allow drivers to return to their cars to resume Nationwide Series practice. Drivers signing autographs include: Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Danica Patrick, Elliott Sadler, Kenny Wallace, Steven Wallace.
• Autograph session with Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 at The Pub at Monte Carlo.
• Autograph session with Kyle Busch from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at M&M’s World on the Strip. Contact the store at 736-7611 for details on obtaining a wristband.
• Autograph session with Matt Kenseth at 6 p.m. at the MGM Grand. Wristbands will be distributed at 3 p.m. to the first 300 fans. The No. 17 Crown Royal show car will be located near the Studio 54 nightclub.
• Autograph session with Robby Gordon from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Carnival Court at Harrah's.
• Appearance by Brad Keselowski from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at PT’s Sierra Gold, 6515 South Jones Blvd.
• Q&A session hosted by Chris Myers of Fox Sports with Jimmie Johnson from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sam’s Town. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. This is not an autograph session, but fans are invited to ask questions.
• Kyle Petty and Ryan Newman at the Victory Junction Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament at 7:30 p.m. at Hard Rock. There will be an autograph session from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Friday, March 4:
• Fan Q&A with Las Vegas’ Kurt Busch at 10:30 a.m. in the Sprint Experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
• Autograph session with driver Harry Gant from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Neon Garage at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
• Autograph session with driver Bobby Labonte from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Pub at Monte Carlo.
• Autograph session with drivers David Reutimann, Regan Smith from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Suncoast.
Greg Biffle, David Ragan, Fox Sports’ Jeff Hammond – Sam’s Town Live! inside Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Q&A session hosted by Fox Sports’ Chris Myers. Not an autograph session, but fans are invited to ask questions.
• Autograph session with Jeff Green, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Matt Crafton, Eric McClure, Mike Bliss, Carl Long, Robert Richardson Jr., Dave Blaney, Mike Skinner, Timothy Peters, Michael McDowell, Charles Lewandoski, Timmy Hill at 8 p.m. in the Back Alley Bar, at the Stratosphere.
Saturday, March 5:
• Autograph session with Harry Gant from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
• Autograph session with NHRA Funny Car champion John Force from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Neon Garage at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. .
• Appearance and autographs by Juan Pablo Montoya from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Deer Springs Town Center (North 5th St. & 215 Beltway). The first 200 people in line are guaranteed to receive Montoya’s autograph. There will be pit crew demonstrations from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• Appearance by driver Joey Logano from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Home Depot, 855 East Dorrell Lane.