Hamlin could be fired up for Vegas NASCAR race

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will hope to continue two solid streaks: Two top-five finishes already this season and 10 straight top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks.

Last week's race in Phoenix got mixed reviews, with many drivers and fans bored by the single-file racing and relative lack of passing action.

But several drivers found the race compelling and competitive, particularly since they're still figuring out what their new cars can do — and Vegas' bump-filled tri-oval should maximize the Gen-6 car's strengths.

"A fast, high-banked, 1.5-mile track with some real challenges — that's what competitors love," Jeff Gordon said. "They love a good challenge. The competition always seems to come out here."

The teams learned plenty from a lengthy practice session Thursday, and most expect to use that knowledge Sunday.

Kyle Busch also gathered valuable knowledge with a second-place finish in Saturday's Nationwide Series race on the sprawling track on the north side of his desert hometown.

Busch has trepidation about the bumpy, sunbaked track, but he's hoping for better results after his strong Nationwide effort.

"I think it helps, feeling like you have a good car versus struggling, being 30th or something like that, not looking forward to the day," Busch said. "We are, and we have, a good car. The guys worked hard Thursday here, and we made a lot of gains on some things then. ... I wish we could have qualified (for Sunday). I think we'd be starting a little bit further forward, but we'll see what we have in store for us when the green flag drops."