Las Vegas Motor Speedway is set to make history on Thursday, Sept. 13, as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races on dirt for the first time at the Star Nursery 100.
Heading into the historic race, multiple-time LVMS Bullring winner Derek Thorn has the series points lead after scoring wins at Colorado National Speedway and Evergreen Speedway, along with an impressive average finish of 2.9 and 10 top-10 finishes. Trailing Thorn by 25 points is another Bullring veteran, Ryan Partridge, who has a win at Orange Show Speedway to go along with an average finish of 3.9 and 10 top 10s of his own.
The series’ most prolific driver so far this year has been 17-year-old Derek Kraus, who leads all competitors with three wins, four poles and laps led at 349. Kraus will arrive in Las Vegas riding the momentum from an Aug. 24 victory at Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis.
NASCAR drivers Christopher Bell and Brendan Gaughan are competing in the event as well, and both are no stranger to winning on dirt or in the K&N Series. Bell won his second consecutive Chili Bowl at the Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Center in January, and Gaughan is a two-time (2001-02) K&N Pro Series West champion.
Fourth-ranked Cole Rouse and Trevor Huddleston, who is fifth in points, are both looking for their first series wins of the season and could factor into the mix down the stretch. Other series winners include Kody Vanderwal with two and Will Rodgers with one.
Fan favorite Hailie Deegan has shown flashes of greatness this season, as she became the highest-finishing female in series history after earning a second-place finish at Douglas County Speedway. The 17-year-old – who has two other top-five finishes and sits seventh in the points standings – is an experience dirt track racer who is excited about competing at the LVMS Dirt Track.
“Coming into the K&N Series (this year), the race I was looking forward to the most was the Vegas race,” Deegan said. “I feel like we’re going to be really good there. We have a good car and have made some changes for the dirt racing, and we’ll have five hours of practice time on Wednesday, so I think we’ll come out of the gates really strong.
“With Christopher Bell and some of the other NASCAR drivers racing, I think there will be some good competition.”
The Star Nursery 100 – the K&N Series West’s first race on dirt – begins at 8 p.m. Pacific Time and kicks off a full weekend of racing at America’s Racing Showplace. Bell and Gaughan will join the K&N drivers for an autograph session at the Dirt Track from 4:30-5:30, while Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Noah Gragson and Riley Herbst will be part of a NASCAR drivers autograph session from 6-7.
Following the Dirt Track race, action will then shift to the superspeedway with the World of Westgate 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Friday, Sept. 14, the DC Solar 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the South Point 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion, will go for a Las Vegas sweep on Sunday as the South Point 400 kicks off the 2018 MENCS playoffs.
Star Nursery – which began its operation in 1983 and has seven of its 15 locations in Las Vegas – was title sponsor of the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series race at The Bullring in 2001. Southern Nevada’s premier garden center, Star Nursery also sponsored Las Vegas-born Kurt Busch during his NASCAR Southwest Tour Series championship season in 1999.
The Star Nursery 100 gives the LVMS Dirt Track a powerful trio of events for 2018, along with the World of Outlaws FVP Outlaw Showdown that took place Feb. 28-March 1 and the 21st annual Duel in the Desert that is scheduled for Nov. 7-10.
The K&N Pro Series West brought races to the 1.5-mile speedway from 1996-2001 and to The Bullring from 2001-03, but the Star Nursery 100 will mark the first K&N event at the LVMS Dirt Track. The evening will also include a 25-lap IMCA Western RaceSaver Sprint Series race as well.