After two weeks of racing in the southern United States, the NASCAR touring series schedule heads west for the next three weeks, starting off with a stop at the 1.5-mile speedway in the desert, Las Vegas. Since NASCAR started racing at this oval in 1998 in the Monster Energy Cup Series, Jimmie Johnson holds the record for most wins at the track with four. Brad Keselowski has taken a trip to victory lane here three times, while “Happy Harvick” has emerged victorious twice. Will any of these three perennial contenders win once again? Or will a new star start off NASCAR’s west coast swing with a bang?
Logano has been the epitome of consistency at the track, with an average finish of 9.18 and four top-five finishes in 11 career starts at Las Vegas. His average finish of 9.18 is the best average finish he has on any track in the Monster Energy circuit. He has never won at the Clark County speedway, but he has been knocking on the door for several years now. He has as good of a chance as anyone to knock the door off its hinges and register his first Monster Energy Cup Series win at Vegas on Sunday.
With five wins combined at this track between the three major touring series in NASCAR, Busch usually can be found toward the front of the field as the race winds down. This was the case once again in yesterday’s XFINITY race, when the hometown kid overcame a loose wheel en route to yet another win. At Las Vegas, Busch has eight top-ten finishes and six top-five finishes in NASCAR’s three series. Look for Rowdy to once again be a headache for competitors this Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr.
The winner of the 2017 Kobalt 400 is coming off of a runner-up finish at another 1.5-mile track (Atlanta), and after being quite upset after just coming up short last week, Truex will be looking to come back with a vengeance on the rest of the competition. The New Jersey native finished fourth and third at the “entertainment capital of the world” in the spring and fall races a year ago, as well as second here in 2015. Truex has shown the ability to get to victory lane in the desert, and is certainly a driver who could punch his ticket to the chase at the conclusion of the third race of the season.
In 19 starts at Las Vegas, ‘’The Bakersfield Basher’’ has won twice and is the defending winner of the Pennzoil 400. He has also collected eight top-ten finishes and five top-five finishes during his storied career. Combined with his two XFINITY series wins, Harvick has won at all levels at Vegas and if his car is handling well, look for the 2014 series champion to possibly win a stage or two and be a major factor toward the end of the 400-mile duel.
Johnson has been in arguably the biggest slump of his career for over a year, but at the end of the day, facts are facts. The seven-time champion has taken four checkered flags and registered nine top-ten finishes at Vegas. Picking against a man who has won seven championships and has won 83 times in the Monster Energy Cup Series is not a recipe for success. Johnson is a factor every week he takes the asphalt, and I believe that he will recover from an abysmal showing last week at Atlanta and come home with a strong run tomorrow, which will get his season back on track.