The West Coast swing begins for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This will be the first of two races at the track this season, which is a new schedule tweak to the Cup Series.
CUP SERIES PREVIEW FOR PENNZOIL 400
Post-Final Practice Update: Kyle Larson was the fastest in second practice and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average during final practice. His practice speeds indicate that he will be one of the fastest cars during long green flag runs, which are common at 1.5 mile Intermediate tracks since crashes don’t occur as often at that track type. Larson will compete for the win. Kevin Harvick was fourth in second practice and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average during final practice. Harvick’s practice speeds also point to having a faster car on longer green flag runs compared to most. He will compete for the win and because he is starting second, he is in a prime position to lead laps.
Denny Hamlin ($9,100) was 11th and had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. He starts 19th, which means that he will gain points from PD as he finishes around the Top 10 based on his final practice speed. Cole Custer ($6,400) is making his Cup Series debut this week. He starts 30th and was 23rd in second practice and 25th in final practice. Custer has no experience in the Cup series, but his practice speeds are good enough to finish in the Top 25, making him one of the better bargain plays. Aric Almirola ($7,700) was 12th in final practice and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Almirola’s final practice speed points to a finish in the Top 15, which makes him a standout pick for PD. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500 on DraftKings) dominated at Las Vegas last season by leading 150 laps and scoring a win. In 12 starts at LVMS, Truex has the fifth-best Average Finishing Position of 13.1 and four Top 10 finishes, which include two in his last three starts. Truex has the highest Average Driver Rating of 117.9 in the last three Las Vegas races and had the second-most Fastest Laps in last year’s race with 62. He was eighth in first practice, starts fourth, and is the favorite to win this race based on recent history at 1.5-mile Intermediate tracks. Expect Truex to be highly owned, but you must have him in a lineup this week.
Kevin Harvick ($10,300) had one win at Vegas in 2015, when he also led the most laps at 142. Since 2005, Harvick has the fourth-best DR of 96.8 and the third-most Laps in the Top 15 with 2,461. He had the second-best AFP at 1.5-mile Intermediate tracks last season at 8.1 and he was second in first practice. Harvick will start second. After winning last week’s race at Atlanta, expect Harvick to have another strong Top 5 finish based on history and his good speed in first practice.
Las Vegas is the home track of Kyle Busch ($10,000), who has one win and six Top 10 finishes in 13 starts at the site. Since 2005, Busch has the second-best Average Running Position of 9.4, the second-most Laps led at 230, and the second-best DR of 102.9. He was fourth in first practice and has the third-best AFP of 10.1 at 1.5 mile Intermediate tracks in the last two seasons. Busch will start 13th, which gives him the potential to score some Place Differential points. Based on his first practice speed and history at LVMS, Busch will finish in the Top 5.
Kyle Larson ($9,800) has Two Top 10 finishes in four starts at Las Vegas, which includes a finish of second last season. Larson led the fourth-most laps at 1.5-mile Intermediate tracks in 2017 with 238. He was first in first practice and finished ninth last week at Atlanta. Larson will start fifth. Larson’s first practice speed and performances from last season at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks make him one of the better options.
Brad Keselowski ($9,400) is one of the best choices for Las Vegas. He has finished seventh or better in his last five starts at Las Vegas, including two wins in 2014 and 2016. Keselowski has the fifth-best Average Highest Driver Rating in the last three Vegas races (127.5). He also has the second-best ARP of 5.8 and the most Fastest Laps with 105 in the last three Vegas races. Keselowski starts eighth, was seventh in first practice and has shown high consistency throughout recent years at LVMS.
Statistically, Joey Logano ($9,300) is a respectable pick for Las Vegas. He has finished in the Top 10 in his last four Vegas starts and has the third-best Average High DR of 130.6 in his last three starts at the track. Logano was 14th in first practice and has the best ARP of 5.3 in the last three Las Vegas races. He starts 10th, and you can expect a finish from Logano around his starting position based on history.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Ryan Blaney ($8,700) has two Top 10 finishes in three starts at Las Vegas. He has the second-best AFP of 10.6. Blaney was eighth in first practice and starts first. He has very good history at Las Vegas and will easily lead laps based on his prime starting position.
Erik Jones ($8,300) finished 15th in his only Cup Series start at Las Vegas. This week marks his first start with Joe Gibbs Racing at Las Vegas and he now has more experience with racing at Intermediate tracks. Jones was sixth in first practice and starts ninth. Jones will pick up a new career-best finish at Vegas in the Top 10.
Ryan Newman ($7,100) has two Top 10 finishes in his last four starts at Las Vegas. In 17 starts at the track, Newman has eight Top 10 finishes. He was 17th in first practice and starts 25th. Newman’s first practice speed points to a finish in the Top 20, making Newman a decent choice for your lineup.
Paul Menard ($6,900) has three Top 10 finishes in 11 starts at Las Vegas. He also has finished ahead of his starting position in four of his last six Vegas starts. Menard starts 12th and was third in first practice. Based on his first practice speed, Menard will finish in the Top 10.
Ty Dillon ($6,500) will start 31st and has a very good chance of gaining points from Place Differential. He was 29th in first practice and finished 21st in his only start at Las Vegas. Dillon is one of the best bargains for his PD potential.
Chris Buescher ($5,800) has two starts at Las Vegas. He finished 23rd last season at the track. Buescher starts 28th and was 23rd in first practice. Expect Buescher to finish ahead of his starting position based on his first practice speed.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR BOYD GAMING 300
Post-Qualifying Saturday Update: Christopher Bell won the pole for the second consecutive week. He already showed good speed compared to most throughout practices, and starting out front will allow him to gain more clean air for his car, allowing him to go faster. Expect Bell to lead several laps in this race.
Ryan Truex ($7,900) will start 17th at Las Vegas. Look for him to score a couple of points from PD as his practice speeds point to a finish around the Top 10. He was 12th in first practice and 11th in final practice. Brandon Jones ($7,300) is another driver that will score a few points from PD. Jones has two starts at Vegas and one Top 10 finish. He was 11th in first practice and 13th in final practice. Jones will finish in the Top 15 based on practice speeds. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Kyle Larson ($12,600) was first in both practices. In three starts at Las Vegas, Larson has two Top 3 finishes. Based on practice speeds, Larson is the favorite to win. Ryan Blaney ($10,100), was second in both practices. Blaney has one Xfinity start at Vegas, and he started fourth and finished second. Look for Blaney to compete for the win based on practice speeds.
Christopher Bell ($8,700) will make his Xfinity Series debut at Las Vegas. He was fourth in both practices and will compete for a Top 5 finish. Daniel Hemric ($8,400) and Tyler Reddick ($8,200) also have shown better speeds than most in practices. Hemric finished 13th in his only start at Las Vegas last season. He was 10th in first practice and fifth in final practice. Look for him to finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds. Reddick is making his first start at Vegas. He was sixth in first practice and third in final practice. Reddick will compete for a Top 5 finish based on practice speeds.
The bargains to throw in lineups for this week are Spencer Gallagher ($6,900), Austin Cindric ($7,200), and Alex Labbe ($5,900). Gallagher finished 23rd last season at Vegas in his only start. He was 13th in first practice and 17th in final practice. Cindric and Labbe are both making their first Xfinity starts at LVMS. Cindric was 19th in first practice and 20th in final practice while Labbe was 22nd in first practice and 18th in final practice. All three of these drivers will finish in the Top 20 based on practice speeds.