Week 2 is now in the books with Jimmie Johnson winning on pit strategy after Kevin Harvick dominated the race. The win is almost sure to lock Jimmie into the Chase while they know they still have some work to do on getting their car to be faster and the handling better. On the other hand, Kevin is probably a little disappointed he didn’t pick up the win and qualify himself for the Chase, but this team knows that they had the car to beat once again and that the wins will come soon enough.
This week the series heads out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the running of the Kobalt 400. Once again this is a mile-and-a-half race track somewhat similar to Atlanta. The difference is in the progressive banking on the track and the fact that tire wear should be improved over what it was at Atlanta. This is also a 400-mile race instead of 500-miles like the Atlanta race was. That shouldn’t really matter as we saw no engine problems on any of the cars last weekend.
Kevin Harvick: I am going to pick Kevin to win the race at Las Vegas this week after his dominant performance at Atlanta last weekend. Kevin won this race last season and showed this team still has the speed and handling to be a contender every weekend once again this year. After the disappointing result to the race last week, Kevin is going to be ready to get back on the track and show everyone that he is a legitimate contender once again this season.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with four wins at Las Vegas and has a lot of confidence after picking up the win last week at Atlanta. We have seen in the past how this team usually wins multiple races in a row and they will do everything they can to do it again. However, as I said before, this team needs to find a little more speed and better handling throughout the race so they can win with that instead of pit strategy.
Matt Kenseth: Matt had a great car last weekend and probably would have been a contender if not for a penalty on the gas man on a pit stop half-way through the race. To add insult to injury, they didn’t realize they were being black flagged and lost another lap when NASCAR stopped scoring them. Matt has won three races at this track and has finished in the top ten in nine of his sixteen starts here. All of the Gibbs teams showed speed and Matt is probably the best of them on the mile-and-a-half tracks.
Kyle Busch: Let’s not leave out Kyle though. After having the fastest qualifying lap, he was relegated to the rear of the field for the start of the race when his car failed post-qualifying inspection. Despite starting at the rear and not being able to really push his car because of tire wear, Kyle worked his way back towards the front and came away with a third place finish. Kyle has one win here and has finished in the top ten in five of his eleven starts.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale is still looking for his first win at this track, but he has finished in the top ten in nine of his sixteen starts at this track. Dale hung around in the top ten all race last week and then moved up to take second place on the green/white/checkered finish restart. It seems these types of tracks are really Dales favorites besides Pocono where he ran very well last year.
Carl Edwards: Carl has two wins at this track and has finished in the top ten in six of his eleven starts here. This includes top five finishes in four of his last five starts at Las Vegas. Carl stayed in the top ten for most of the race last weekend despite feeling a vibration in his car for much of the race. Once he can feel confident that his car isn’t going to blow a tire or he doesn’t have a loose wheel he will be able to push it a little harder.
Joey Logano: Joey had a good car last week at Atlanta also and only found himself a lap down because he hit the cone entering pit-road and had to do a pass through penalty which stuck him a lap down that he didn’t get back until the end of the race. This team has been good over the past couple of seasons on this type of track and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in victory lane this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin is another driver looking for his first win at Las Vegas. He did finish runner-up to Kevin Harvick in this race last year and was the second best car to Kevin’s last weekend also. This team looks poised to make another run at a championship this season and has an even better chance now that they are affiliated with the Joe Gibbs Racing teams.
Denny Hamlin: Denny started off last week’s race like a man on a mission as he passed a slew of cars early in the race. However, he wore out his tires and lost all of the track position he had gained and never quite recovered as he lost a lap on the track. This wasn’t a big deal to this team after winning the Daytona 500 and qualifying themselves for the Chase already. Denny has finished in the top ten in five of his ten starts at LVMS and shouldn’t have to worry about tires as much this weekend.
Chase Elliott: The rookie ran well all day at Atlanta last weekend and came away with a top ten finish. This should give this team a lot of confidence as they head into this weekend’s race at a similar track. There is only upside to the potential for this young driver. He has great equipment, teammates that can give him a lot of good advice, and a father who has been through it all before. I look for this team to win a race before the end of the season and it might come this weekend.
My Big 18 pick for this week is going to be Matt Kenseth. I think that after last week’s disappointment, this team will come out firing on all cylinders. Besides, I am going to use Kevin Harvick at Phoenix where he has been almost unbeatable the past three seasons.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Carl Edwards
- Austin Dillon
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
- Matt Kenseth
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dark Horse: Chase Elliott
Stay Away From: Kurt Busch
Big 18: Matt Kenseth