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Thunderbirds add to excitement of NASCAR weekend

NASCAR fans can expect action on the track and in the skies this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform a flyover for the Pennzoil 400 race on Sunday. About 12,500 fans, a limited 15 percent capacity, will be treated to the aerial event.

Looking down at the crowds will be the pilot behind the No. 6 jet, Maj. Kyle Oliver.

“It’s an absolute honor,” Oliver said Friday. “The Thunderbirds had an impact on me from a very young age and they are the reason that I ended up in the Air Force and a fighter pilot to begin with.”

Oliver said the relationship between NASCAR and the Thunderbirds is special because both entities are often represented by a small portion of the team. NASCAR fans see the drivers and pit crews, but often not the engineers and mechanics behind the scenes. As for the Thunderbirds, while they are comprised of six jets and pilots, there are more than 130 people who make each mission happen.

Flying over Las Vegas is always a highlight for the Thunderbirds because it is the city they call home.

“We hope the people of Las Vegas are proud of us, we’re certainly proud of them,” Oliver said. “We hope that when people think of Las Vegas they think of the Strip, they think of Red Rock and then they think that’s the home of the Thunderbirds.”

The green flag drops on the Pennzoil 400 at 12:30 p.m.

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Pennzoil 400 race results

Results of the NASCAR Cup race Pennzoil 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.