A year ago I attended my first NASCAR race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Happily I'm going again this year. The racing surface and entire infield facility had a major facelift which started the day after last year's Cup race. LVMS used to be basically a flat track but now it's a true speedway. The banking in the corners used to be 12 degrees but are now 20 degrees while the banking on the backstretch went from 3 degrees to 9 degrees! Translation, the race track is really fast now!!! Pit road has been moved up 275 feet closer to the grandstands to give fans a better view and a new fan center as well as media center has been built. Amazing this was all done within a year in time for this year's event. Qualifying will be on Friday, the Busch series race on Saturday and the top series the NEXTEL Cup Series will race on Sunday. I checked the weather forecast and it looks good. No rain and it's not going to be as cold as last year. Last year on the day of qualifying the temperatures were down near the 30's with the wind chill plus it was overcast. Being from Hawaii that was hard to handle! Brrrrrr. It will also be very difficult to top last year's trip. We were staying at the Wynn and on Saturday just after I placed a bet on Jimmie Johnson to win Sunday's Cup race (he had 8-1 odds) as we were leaving the Wynn's betting area my boss pulls me back and says "there's Jimmie Johnson!" I couldn't believe it. There he was sitting in the last row of seats with some friends. We had been out shopping earlier that day and I had purchased a Jimmie Johnson t-shirt and a Jeff Gordon t-shirt. It was a good thing that I hadn't gone back to the room first and therefore still had my shopping bags with me. Luckily a friend had a sharpie and Jimmie was really down to earth and nice. He signed my t-shirt and I then shook his hand wishing him luck on the next day's race and I showed him my bet ticket. I put $150 on him, betting with my heart. The race was simply awesome! Watching it on TV does no justice to this sport. Being there is incredible and the sound of the cars! Jimmie Johnson had been gradually catching the race leader Matt Kenseth as the laps wound down to the end of the race and time was running out for him to catch up. However a late caution brought when Tony Stewart loss a wheel brought the field back up to the leader and Jimmie was now right behind leader Matt Kenseth with 2 laps to go! First Jimmie tried to pass Kenseth on the inside of turn of turns 3 & 4 (right where we are sitting) but Kenseth put the block on him. Now with just 1 lap left it was Jimmie's last chance to win. In a daring move he went to the outside of Kenseth in turn 3 and they were side by side up to the finish/start line! I forgot how many hundreds of a second the margin of victory was, let's just say it was an extremely close finish as Jimmie won the race!! We were going crazy in the stands! Now it just can't get better than that. Meet one of my 2 favorite drivers, get his autograph, shake his hand and he wins the race! 🙂 Below are some pics of the totally redone LVMS, an overhead view of the entire facility and a picture of my autographed Jimmie Johnson t-shirt with Aichan scarf. I leave this evening and arrive in Las Vegas early tomorrow morning. Last year's attendance was around 160,000. This year's race is sold out too!