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Notebook: SMI's Smith elated by Cup banquet's move to Vegas

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith has been lobbying for a second Sprint Cup race date for his Las Vegas Motor Speedway for several years.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith has been lobbying for a second Sprint Cup race date for his Las Vegas Motor Speedway for several years.

Smith also has suggested that NASCAR move its season-ending Cup awards banquet to the entertainment mecca in the Nevada desert.

A report in Friday's Las Vegas Review-Journal indicated Smith will get at least one of those wishes. NASCAR and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have reached an agreement in principle to move the banquet to Las Vegas, with the term of the agreement and a specific site still to be negotiated.

"There are at least three places you could (hold the event) -- Mandalay Bay, MGM, and I don't know how many people you could seat at Bellagio, but they seat 16,000 at the two previous places I mentioned," Smith said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, another SMI property.

"So maybe we could sell 10,000 seats to the race fans and let them come and enjoy the activities. That's what I'd like to see."

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Smith also would like to see the Cup season finale at LVMS, with the banquet to follow.

"I plan to suggest that," he said with a smile.

QUALIFYING FALL-OFF CONFOUNDS KURT BUSCH

Kurt Busch plummeted from third fastest in Friday's Sprint Cup practice session to 28th fastest in qualifying -- and had no idea why.

"That's really baffling," Busch said after his qualifying run. "We didn't change much of anything from practice to qualifying and slowed down about 25 hundredths (of a second) on the stopwatch. We had a pretty good-handling Miller Lite Dodge in practice, but when we were out there making our lap, the car was just bouncing around too much and was pushing bad in the corners.

"If we didn't change much and dropped off like that, and so did guys like Mark Martin (fastest in practice, 23rd in qualifying), the track must have changed a lot. With no cars running laps out there after our practice, it has us scratching our heads."

HAMLIN, JOHNSON HAVEN'T TALKED

Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson haven't spoken since contact between their two cars last Sunday at Martinsville allowed Johnson to make what turned out to be the winning pass with 15 laps left in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500.

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Hamlin also said viewing a replay hasn't changed his perspective on the incident.

"I think right after he got out of the car, I guess he was going to assume I was going to bash him, because he got defensive right away and said, 'No, he chopped me. He chopped me,'" Hamlin said Friday at Texas. "I think he realizes that I didn't chop him off. He dove in there pretty late and got into us. I haven't talked to him, but I'm sure we'll talk. Probably at (driver) intros (on Sunday)."

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