Plenty of newness for LVMS test

There will be a mix of the old and the new on hand Wednesday and Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the 1.5-mile track hosts the first of three scheduled organizational tests for the series in 2018.

Of the 13 teams slated to participate, nearly half feature a driver change from 2017.

Erik Jones, the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, will be making his debut in the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing;

William Byron, the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series champ, will be behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports;

Speaking of Hendrick, after six years with the four-team organization, Kasey Kahne now finds himself behind the wheel of the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing;

Darrell Wallace Jr., isn’t exactly new to the No. 43 of Richard Petty Motorsports – the 24-year-old made four starts for the team last season while driver Aric Almirola was recovering from a back injury. However, Almirola has since landed at Stewart-Haas Racing and Wallace is now the full-time driver for RPM, which has made the move from Ford to Chevrolet.

Paul Menard is the newest driver of the No. 21 Ford fielded by Wood Brothers Racing. Menard won the 2011 Brickyard 400 while the Wood Brothers won the 2011 Daytona 500. Make of that what you will.

Last on the “new” front – SHR XFINITY Series regular Cole Custer will handle testing duties this week with Go Fas Racing in that team’s No. 32 Ford.

Absent from the roster is defending MENCS champ Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota team. The team dominated the 1.5-mile stops last year, with seven of its eight victories coming on the intermediate tracks. Truex did take part earlier this month in a Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway, another 1.5-mile venue.

Rounding out the roster of drivers and teams testing this week are:

Brad Keselowski, Team Penske No. 2 Ford; Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford; Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford; Cole Custer, Go Fas Racing No. 32 Ford;

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet; Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet; Ty Dillon, Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet; Chris Buescher, JTG Daugherty No. 37 Chevrolet;

Wheel force cars from the three OEMs will be driven by Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet), David Ragan (Ford) and Drew Herring (Toyota).

Gates will open at 9 a.m. PT daily and fans will be admitted free of charge in grandstands and the popular Neon Garage both days.

LVMS will host the Pennzoil 400 Sunday, March 4, the wrap-up to a triple-header weekend that will also include Camping World Truck and NASCAR XFINITY Series races.

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