Kyle Busch crashes in Nationwide Series practice

jutter@charlotteobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

— It was not the kind of hometown welcome anticipated by Kyle Busch and Dylan Kwasniewski.

Both drivers – both Las Vegas natives – wrecked in separate Nationwide Series practice sessions Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kwasniewski wrecked in the day’s first practice session, and Busch hit the wall in the second practice session. Both drivers will compete in backup cars in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 but will not have to start from the rear of the field because the incidents happened before qualifying.

Saturday’s race is the first at the 1.5-mile speedway for Kwasniewski, who is making his third series start after winning consecutive titles in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series the past two seasons.

“I really can’t describe the feeling that I am going to have taking the green flag this weekend in Las Vegas,” Kwasniewski said. “When my family and I sat down a few years ago and methodically put together a plan to help me reach my goals, this was high on the list and something I really wanted to achieve.

“A lot of people think I am going to have a ‘home-field’ advantage this weekend, but the truth is, I have never run a lap on the big track. I have done all my racing at The Bullring across the street.”

Burton gains another race

Jeb Burton, who lost his full-time Truck series ride with Turner Scott Motorsports before the season began, has earned a second race this season with ThorSport Racing.

Burton ran the season opener for ThorSport at Daytona and also will compete in the March 29 race at Martinsville, Va., with the organization.

“We were really impressed with Jeb, his ability to mesh with the team and the way he worked his way through that first race and had a respectable finish, which isn’t easy at Daytona,” team manager David Pepper said.

JGR adds development driver

Joe Gibbs Racing has added Cody Coughlin to its driver development program.

Coughlin, 19, captured the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Championship in 2013. In addition to another season in that series, Coughlin will compete in 12 Automobile Racing Club of America series races for Venturini Motorsports beginning March 22 at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway.

“It’s hard to imagine finding a better organization to work with than Joe Gibbs Racing,” Coughlin said. “They have a tremendous history of working with young drivers and giving them the best opportunity to be successful both on and off the track.”

Crafton on standby for Menard

Reigning Truck series champion Matt Crafton will remain on standby this weekend in Las Vegas for Cup driver Paul Menard, whose wife, Jennifer, is due to deliver the couple’s first child at any time back in North Carolina.

“It’s tough, because you just don’t know when or even if it will happen, but kind of like that backup quarterback, you have to be ready at any time,” Crafton said. “For him to have the confidence in me to get the job done if he has to head back home – that’s awesome.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: jim_utter

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