South Point 400


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The South Point 400 NASCAR Cup Series was held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in mid-October, near the end of the racing season. It was our first live NASCAR race since attending the Daytona 500 five years ago and we had a great time.

The race weekend included an Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the main event on Sunday. We spent several hours before each race in the infield and pit areas, and particularly enjoyed talking to some of the crew members as they prepared for qualifying and the race. We were interested to learn that the teams are increasingly hiring amateur and professional athletes for their pit crews. Under 10-second pit stops require speed and precision.

And Jennifer was super-excited to get a picture with our current favorite driver, Ross Chastain of Trackhouse Racing, pictured above. We really enjoy the aggressive and skillful driving style that often puts him up front. Two weeks after this race, Chastain became a viral internet sensation after deliberately running his car along the wall to slingshot through the field and secure a spot in the Championship 4.

Below are highlights from October 14th through 16th, 2022. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a map with our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

10/14/2022
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Mt. Rainier
View to the southwestern flank of Mt. Rainier from our flight to Las Vegas to attend the NASCAR race.
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The Dalles
The big bend in the Columbia River at The Dalles. We passed through the dam there on our trip up the Columbia and Snake rivers.
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Crescent Dunes
The 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project contains 10,000 mirrors that track and focus the sun’s energy on a receiver tower filled with molten salt. The salt, heated to 1000°F (537°C), is released when needed for heating water to produce steam power. The plant suffered design, construction and technical issues, and didn’t produce power from 2019 to 2021 while bankruptcy proceedings progressed. In July of 2021, the project was restarted by NV Energy.
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Spring Mountains
The rust-colored Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas. The red splotches in the distance are Red Rock Canyon National Park that we visited on a return trip to the US one year.
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Car Rental Queue
Alamo touted our car rental as “Skip the counter. Skip the kiosk. Go directly to your vehicle”, but failed to mention the lengthy 20-minute wait for a bus to actually reach the car rental area.
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Penthouses
Heading up the elevator to our 33rd-floor “penthouse” apartment we rented for the weekend through VRBO. Typically the penthouse is the top floor, but the developers of this building appeared to have doubled-down on the appeal of a penthouse apartment and designated over a quarter of the floors as “penthouse”.
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VRBO
The spacious VRBO studio apartment we rented. Having a balcony, a small kitchenette and fridge is a rarity in most Las Vegas hotels that we’ve stayed at in the past, and is much nicer for us.
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Sunset
A beautiful sunset for the balcony of our VRBO apartment.
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Driving Range
Passing a multi-tiered golf driving range as we walk out for dinner in Las Vegas.
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Evening
Evening view north towards the Las Vegas strip from the balcony of our VRBO apartment.
10/15/2022
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Dawn
The dawn view from our Las Vegas VRBO apartment. It looks like we’ll have a clear and sunny day for racing.
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Ferrari
One of several Ferraris and other exotic cars parked outside our building this morning.
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Nellis AFB
The entrance to Nellis Air Force Base, known as “The Home of the Fighter Pilot” where the US Air Force focuses on advance combat training. The base employs 9.500 military and civil personnel, with a total military population in the area of 40,000 including family members and retirees.
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LVMS
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first day of a two-day weekend of NASCAR racing. We’ve not attended a NASCAR race since the Daytona 500 in 2017, and are it’s great to be back.
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Neon Garage
Our weekend tickets include access to the Neon Garage in the infield.
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Technical Inspection
One of the NASCAR technical inspection areas in the infield.
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Section 2P
The view from the infield to our seats in section 2P.
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Gas Cans
A set of gas cans ready to go for today’s Xfinity race.
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Spotters
Spotters getting ready for the race atop the main grandstand. The spotters are the driver’s “eye in the sky” and communicate with them during the race to help them navigate through traffic or accidents on the track.
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Xfinity Garages
Looking down to the Xfinity cup garage area, where the teams are getting ready to bring the cars out for this afternoon’s race.
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Pushing Cars
The Pala Resorts team pushing their Xfinity car number 78 out to the track for the upcoming race. The reason for pushing the cars rather then driving them out is because transmission aren’t geared for slow driving, so it’s hard on the clutch.
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Portable Screen
We were impressed that this huge screen could fold up completely for transport inside the trailer below.
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Kyle Busch
NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch heading out to the track for qualifying. Busch is the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series champion.
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Trackhouse Transports
All the racing teams have beautiful trucks to transport their cars to the track that double as on-track offices for the teams.
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Stilts
Part of the Las Vegas-themed performers at the speedway were several people on stilts.
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Xfinity Pits
The Xfinity team pits, foreground, with the Xfinity cars parked just beyond for the race later today, after the Cup Series qualifiying.
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Tires
Sets of Goodyear tires piled and ready for the Cup Series teams.
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Tunnel
It’s a long way down to the tunnel to cross under the track from the Neon Garage to reach our seats at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Qualifying
The NASCAR Cup Series cars lined up on pit road for qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Xfinity Race
The field heading through corner four at the start of the Xfinity Series race on Saturday.
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Noah Gragson
Noah Gragson, in Xfinity car number 9, pulls out of the pits. Behind Gragson’s car, the crew for Myatt Snider, number 21, is visible completing their pit stop. The jack man is just rounding the left rear and the the rest of the crew are at the front of the car. At right the last bit of fuel is going into AJ Allmendinger’s car number 16.
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AJ Allmendinger
A later pit stop for AJ Allmendinger’s car number 16 during the Xfinity Series race. The jack man, front tire changer, tire carrier have run around the front of the car and are underway, the first fuel can is partway in at the left rear of the car, and the rear tire changer is halfway around the rear of the car.
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89F
It’s a toasty 89°F (32°C) today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Josh Berry
Josh Berry doing donuts at the start-finish line to celebrate his Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Victory Lane
After the race, we crossed back over to the Neon Garage area. Here we are at Victory Lane as driver Josh Berry and the crew for car number 8 celebrate their Xfinity win.
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Ross Chastain
Looking down at Trackhouse Racing’s car number 1, driven by our current favorite driver, Ross Chastain.
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Carvana
On our way back from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we passed a multi-story car “vending machine” run by used-car dealer Carvana.
10/16/2022
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Spitfire
Spitfire has always been a vocal cat, and has become even more so as he’s gotten older. The team at Wagly, where we board him when we’re away, caught a picture of him letting loose a giant “Meeow!”.
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Mirror Man
A mirror man performing outside Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Officials’ Meeting
An official’s meeting in the Neon Garage area prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race.
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Rear Fascia
We spent about an hour in the pit area before heading up to our seats. this is a Camero rear fascia sitting in one of the pit areas.
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Composite Body
The label on the rear fascia reads “NASCAR Nextgen Composite Body. Rear fascia, Camero”.
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Pace Car
The Toyota Camry pace car for the South Point 400.
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Trackhouse Racing
Outside the Trackhouse Racing team pit area of our current favorite driver, Ross Chastain in car number 1.
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Matt Simmons
We spent ages talking with Matt Simmons, a pit crew member for Trackhouse Racing. Race teams are increasingly hiring amateur and professional athletes for their pit crews, and Matt came to the job as an All American baseball player. Under 10-second pit stops require speed and precision.
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Sunoco
Sunoco supplies all the fuel for the various NASCAR series.
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Grandstands
A view to the main grandstands from the start of pit road.
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Car Number 18
Kyle Busch’s car number 18 being pushed onto the track for the NASCAR Cup Series race.
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Brakes
NASCAR next gen wheels and breaks have moved forward greatly from previous designs. Here you can see the new aluminum wheels, the quick-change central wheel bolt, and fairly exotic six-piston brake callipers.
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Car Number 1
Car Number 1, driven by Ross Chastain, being pushed out onto the track for the race.
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Kaulig Racing
The Kaulig Racing team, who campaign NASCAR Cup Series cars 16 of A. J. Allmendinger and 31 of Justin Haley, getting their tires and wheels ready for the race. This is a great time to meet the crew where they’re cleaning up any burrs or rough spots on the wheels for error-free pit stops later in the day. It’s a relatively relaxed time of the day and everyone is happy to talk.
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Jack
We noticed several different jack manufacturers in use across the various NASCAR Cup Series teams. The jacks have to be super-light and single pump.
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NFL Player
A former Denver Broncos player now part of the pit crew for Trackhouse Racing car number 99, driven by Daniel Saurez.
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Wood Brothers
Two members of the Wood Brothers team readying their wheels and tires for today’s race. Wood Brothers was formed in 1950 by Glen and Leonard Wood and they’re one of the longest-lived teams in NASCAR.
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Portable Stage
A portable stage coming out onto the track for the drivers’ introductions. Other than a staircase that is brought out separately, the entire stage fits inside this trailer.
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Number 34
Looking down pit row from the pit box of car number 34, Michael McDowell. The numbers on the ends of the poles are used to guide the drivers into the correct pit box during the race.
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Valvoline Number 6
Mark Martin’s Valvoline-sponsored car number 6 on display in the infield at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Martin won 40 NASCAR races, including the first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998 in this car. Martin did a demonstration lap at speed in this car prior to today’s race.
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On the Track
Jennifer out walking on the track prior to the race. It’s quite steep.
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Marbles
Tire debris, called “marbles”, pushed up to the edge of the track.
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SAFER Barrier
A close-up to the SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier that rings Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The barrier is designed to absorb the energy of a high-speed crash to minimize driver injuries.
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Trackhouse Pit
In the pit box for Trackhouse racing car number 1, Ross Chastain.
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Mmmm … tools
No shortage of tools in a NASCAR team pit.
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Cleaning Pit
Each team carefully cleans their pit box prior to the race.
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At the Track
Standing along pit road at Las Vegas Motor Speedway prior to the South Point 400.
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Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash impersonators behind the driver’s introduction stage. We are in Las Vegas :-).
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Dale Jarrett
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett, in tan pants, and other announcers, preparing what they’re going to say once they’re back on the air.
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Mark Martin
Mark Martin, the winner of the first NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998, signing autographs prior to the drivers’ introduction. Martin today will have another first at the track and is being honored as the inaugural member of the Speedway Legends program.
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Davante Adams
With LA Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, honorary pace car driver for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Gilliland etc.
NASCAR Cup Series drivers, from left to right, Todd Gilliland, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley, and Cole Custer walking to the stage for the drivers’ introduction.
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Chase Elliott
2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott signing autographs on the way to the drivers’ introduction.
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Logano etc.
Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and Chris Buescher (left to right) walking to the drivers’ introduction.
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Tyler Reddick
Back-to-back XFinity series champion (2018-2019) Tyler Reddick.
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Ross Chastain
A picture with driver Ross Chastain of the Trackhouse racing team. We really enjoy the aggressive and skillful driving style that often puts him up front.
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Crow’s Nest
Looking down the walkway at the bottom of the grandstands to the crow’s nest above the start-finish line where the NASCAR flagman stands.
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Lunch
A quick lunch in the club area behind our seats before the race starts.
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Corner 1
The NASCAR Cup Series pack heading through corner one with
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Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace leaving the track after an altercation with Kyle Larson. After Larson squeezed Wallace against the wall, Wallace intentionally drove into Larson, spinning out both cars, then walked the 100 yards to Larson’s car to initiate a shouting match. NASCAR suspended Wallace for a week, without fine or point penalty, in an incident that many drivers felt Larson had instigated.
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Allegiant Stadium
On our way to the airport we passed Allegiant Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Raiders NFL team and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels college football team. Completed in 2020 at a cost of nearly US$2 billion, the stadium is the second most expensive in the world after US$5.5 billion SoFi stadium on Los Angeles.
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Sunset
Sunset from the air on our flight home from Las Vegas.
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Loch Katrine Fire
We’re on a final approach over Seattle at low altitude, and even here we can see the wildfires burning near the city.
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Airport Lockdown
Just as we were about to exit the airport, SeaTac went until a full security lock down. No one was allowed in or out for nearly a half hour.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map. And a map of our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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