The first round of the playoffs is in the books and Cole Custer, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, and Matt DiBenedetto have been eliminated from contention. Kevin Harvick leads the last twelve drivers in the standings and has a comfortable 62 point lead ahead of the cutoff position. I think Denny Hamlin is the only other driver who can relax a little, but one mistake by any driver could cost them a spot in the third round. The second round has a wildcard race at Talladega and then a road course race in Charlotte, so there will be some position swapping coming up.
SOUTH POINT 400
This week the series heads out west to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the running of the South Point 400. This will be the race all of the playoff drivers will want to win because no one wants to head to Talladega needing a win or worrying about getting caught up in a big wreck there and then going to a road course which can always be hard on equipment.
This is a mile and a half track with multiple racing grooves. All of the drivers will have chances to work on their cars to get them handling so they have a shot at the win towards the end. Mistakes early in the race might be overcome, but towards the end they will spell disaster.
Martin Truex Jr.: I’m going to go with Martin to win this week. He has won two of the past six races he has run at Las Vegas including winning this race last season. He also has five top five finishes in his last eight starts here. He came close to winning in the first round and know he is going to have to step up his game to guarantee his spot in the third round.
Kevin Harvick: It’s hard not to pick Kevin to win every race at this point of the season and he’s been very good at this track. He has two wins in his last eight starts here and finished second in this race last year. He has also finished first or second in six of the last ten stages run here which tells you he runs up front for the most part all through these races.
Joey Logano: Joey has won the last two spring races here and has finished in the top ten in each of his last nine starts at this track. This team doesn’t seem to be quite where they were earlier in the year, but this could be the track where they get it all put back together again. All in all a pretty decent selection if you want to try and make up ground in your league and know the players above you will pick Martin or Kevin.
Brad Keselowski: Let’s take a look at Brad’s last ten starts at Las Vegas. In that stretch of races he has three wins and seven top five finishes. Those are pretty good stats at any track. Brad has shown that he can win on any given week this year even though he hasn’t been consistent. This is one of those tracks where he should be good though.
Chase Elliott: Chase has also shown that he can get the job done this year, but once again this team doesn’t seem to be in the groove they were in earlier in the season when they were winning races. He is either pretty good or pretty bad at this track with three top ten finishes and three finishes in the thirties in his seven starts here. Might be better to save him for the road course race.
Ryan Blaney: Even though he got knocked out of the playoffs he isn’t going to give up on trying to win races yet this season. Ryan has five top seven finishes in his eight career starts and we have already discussed how good the other two Penske drivers have been at this track. Ryan could be a contender once again this weekend.
Denny Hamlin: Here was a surprise to me. Denny only has three top ten finishes here in his last eleven starts and has only scored points in three stages in that stretch. This might not mean much as we have seen him compete all year with Kevin Harvick on this type of track. There are better places to use him left on the schedule though.
Kyle Busch: Kyle knows he’s going to have to start winning if he want to make it into the next two rounds. He was very disappointed after the Bristol race when he finished second to Kevin. He hasn’t run real well on this type of track all season, but hasn’t been bad here in the past. This is his home town track and he hasn’t won here since the 2009 season. Not sure if this is the point of the season where they put it all together on this track type.
Aric Almirola: Aric is a driver who isn’t great here, but has one of the best average finishes in his last six starts. In fact his best finish in those races was a sixth place finish, yet his average finishing position is under twelve. He is going to have to run better and probably win a race if he wants to keep advancing.
Austin Dillon: Austin is on a bit of a roll lately and has surprised some people including myself with his consistency. He finished fourth here this spring, but like Aric he hasn’t been great at this track in his career. He has only two top five finishes at this track in ten starts. He has no other top ten finishes here either. This could be a make or break week for him.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
Driver Group Game Group B
- Ryan Blaney
- Aric Almirola
- Alex Bowman
- William Byron
Driver Group Game Group C
- Tyler Reddick
- Cole Custer
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
- Joey Logano
- Ryan Blaney
Dark Horse: Alex Bowman
Stay Away From: Matt Kenseth
Big 18: Alex Bowman