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Nascar notes

Staff Report • Mar 8, 2007 at 4:51 AM

Wheldon tops IndyCar open testing in Florida

Coleman ready for another try in Busch race

Stewart doesn't like changes at Las Vegas

• FORT WORTH, Texas - Tony Stewart doesn't like the changes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two-time NASCAR champion thinks they were unnecessary and will make for a boring race this weekend.

"I thought they screwed up a really nice race track," Stewart said Wednesday. "They had a track that every year was getting better and better, and the racing was getting better and better."

During reconstruction of the 1½-mile oval since the Nextel Cup race there last March, the banking was increased from 12 to 20 degrees. The pit lane was moved closer to the front stretch grandstands, making for a smoother transition from corner to straightaway.

Las Vegas officials contend the reconfiguration will create more side-by-side and competitive racing. But Stewart expects the cars to run "in one or two lines" Sunday in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

There's no question that the Las Vegas track is now faster. Elliott Sadler turned a lap of 188.772 mph during testing five weeks ago, significantly higher than Greg Biffle's pole speed of 172.403 mph last March.

Wheldon tops IndyCar open testing in Florida

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• Dan Wheldon was the top overall driver during five days of open testing by the IRL's IndyCar Series entries.

The teams tested Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 on a 2.72-mile road course setup at Daytona International Speedway and again Feb. 21-22 on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, where they will open the season March 24.

Wheldon, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, led both nights of testing at Homestead, while the 2005 IndyCar Series champion and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske were the only drivers ranked in the top five on each day of testing.

Coleman ready for another try in Busch race

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• Brad Coleman turned 19 last week, but his celebration was somewhat muted when his NASCAR Busch Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing was cut short by a broken transmission that relegated him to a 38th-place finish on the road course in Mexico City.

Coleman will get another chance this week in Las Vegas, where he will take on the newly reconfigured 1½-mile oval. The youngster, who won a race in the ARCA series as an 18-year-old, plans to run 17 Busch races for the Gibbs team this year.

Coleman is well aware that rookie of the year honors in Busch are based on each driver's top 17 finishes.

"I know that leaves me no room for error, but I will not change my driving style to chase the award," he said.

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