NASCAR DFS: Las Vegas
I've been doing the NASCAR DFS previews for just over a year now, and just last week, my worst nightmare happened....two of the three drivers I chose...and, even worse, advised...to park finished in the top two at Atlanta last week. Props to Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson for proving me wrong, but darn you at the time.
It would've been more appropriate if my misfortune happened this week, as the circuit hits Las Vegas, the Mecca of Misfortune, for a Sunday afternoon event. I try to get back on the right side of things with equal trios of guys to start or park.
Race: Kobalt 400
Laps: 267 laps (Split in two stages of 80 laps each, and a final stage of 107 laps)
Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV (1.5 miles)
TV: 3:30 PM EST, Fox
LVMS is approaching its 20-year anniversary of hosting NASCAR races, but for now celebrates it's 10-year mark of a surface repavement, increasing the banking, which, in turn, increased exciting side-by-side racing. The track recently received a bit of good news, as it was announced that the Clark County establishment will not only be getting a second race date, but a race during the NASCAR Playoffs, swiping New Hampshire Motor Speedway's fall event in 2018. We got three below who can bunch their ticket to the playoffs on Sunday, as well as three who would be better off looking elsewhere.
Three To Start
Martin Truex Jr. (Starting 2nd)-Some felt Truex would lose some speed with some of Furniture Row's resources now dedicated to his new rookie teammate Erik Jones, but his Toyotas have shown the speed we've become accustomed to in recent times. Truex very well could've won the Daytona 500, fading late after leading in the final laps, and he earned his first Top 10 finish of the year last week at Atlanta, coming in 8th. Starting on the front row on Sunday, Truex will be looking to end it one spot better, having finished in the runner-up spot in 2015.
Joey Logano (Starting 6th)-Equal 6th place finishes have opened Logano's 2017 season, and among all drivers with at least eight starts at Las Vegas, his average finish (10.75) is highest, failing to finish in the Top 20 only once in that span. A jackpot...in other words, a win...at Las Vegas has eluded Logano thus far, he has shown amazing consistency, leading at least 40 laps in each of his past three appearances, including a runner-up spot last year. In his career Vegas eight races, Logano has completed every single lap but one.
Jimmie Johnson (Starting 16th)-We're only two races into the new year, but it's still a bit of a culture shock to see Johnson, he of the seven titles, wallowing in 31st in the standings, having been the victim of an accident and a pit row speeding penalty in the first couple on the young season. Vegas would be a great place for Jimmie to pick it up, as he has led more laps at Vegas than any other driver. Removing a crash-induced 41st place finish in 2015, Johnson's average finish at Vegas is 4.2 between 2012-16
Three To Park
Kurt Busch (Starting 17th)-You may be tempted to take Busch, considering his recent victory in the Daytona 500 and the fact he's a Las Vegas native. The stats, however, mostly say otherwise. Busch has finished in the Top 5 just once in 15 starts, and that came all the way back in 2005. During that stretch, Busch has two 9th place finishes, including one last season, but including those results, he has finished in the Top 20 only one other time.
Danica Patrick (Starting 28th)-Patrick has shown some promise, particularly at Daytona, in the early going, but Lady Luck has avoided the lady of NASCAR. In four starts at Vegas, Patrick's best finishes are a pair of 21st's, and only last season did she finally finish on the lead lap. Patrick's starting position also continues a tough trend, as she hasn't had a starting spot higher than 18th, setting her up for a tough day right from the get-go.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Starting 29th)-Patrick's beau's success at Vegas isn't much better, his finish of 12th last season providing a needed outlier in his other results, 18, 27th, and 29th. An already rough weekend, with a tough qualifying run, got even worse for Stenhouse during practice on Saturday, when an encounter with the wall resulted in damage that forced Stenhouse into a backup car.
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