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CUP: Thursday NASCAR Notebook

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MORE TESTING – Sprint Cup teams will be on the track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today for a pair of important test sessions – at 11:30 a.m. ET and 3:30 p.m. The test runs will provide key information for qualifying Friday and racing Sunday as the new Gen-6 cars compete on a 1.5-mile track for the first time.

TRACKING THE BACKUP – Driver Trevor Bayne will be running laps in today’s Las Vegas test in the Wood Brothers’ backup car. Crew chief Donnie Wingo explains: “We’re actually going to run the back-up car in the test because that will allow us more time on the track.

They both blew about the same numbers in the wind tunnel. We’ll try some different things and figure out what works the best for us and for Trevor. Like anything new, it’ll take a little time to figure it all out.” Wingo said testing with the team’s primary car would add extra time because testing equipment would have to be removed from the car prior to Friday’s track activities.

A LITTLE RECOGNITION – What’s this? Chad Little has directed only one race as the new Camping World Truck Series director, and he’s already picked for a hall of fame? Yes, but there’s an easy explanation. Little was named last week as one of five new inductees for the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Little is a former NASCAR West champion and a former Sprint Cup regular. He moved into a new position with NASCAR this season as boss of the Truck series.

PATRICK STRESSING QUALIFYING – Danica Patrick and crew chief Tony Gibson plan to use today’s testing and Friday’s practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to concentrate on qualifying runs. “That’s what we think is our weak point,” Gibson said. “With these cars being aero-sensitive like they are, you have to focus on qualifying. I talked to Danica about it, and we’re going to spend the second half of Thursday strictly on qualifying runs and then all of Friday on qualifying runs. We’re going to try that approach and see if that benefits us. I think the more runs she makes, we can get the balance closer for her. That’s our plan.”

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.