TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) DISTANCE: 267 Laps – STAGE 1: 80 Laps, Stage 2: 85 Laps, FINAL STAGE 102 LAPS, 400.5 Miles)
This will be the 30th time the Cup Series has visited the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 25 of those would have come in March as the sport added this playoff race there in 2018.
But, Vegas has become a track that has produced a ton of lead changes lately with the last 6 featuring at least 20 including 7 of the last 8 overall.
Ford has been the most dominant team on the 1.5-mile track with 13 wins in 29 tries but were shutout a year ago. However, Toyota’s have dominated this track and Kansas (the closest resembling track) this season.
In the spring race, Toyota led 107 of the 274 laps (39%) that day. In Kansas 1, they led 171 of 267 laps (64%) and took home finishing spots 1-3-4-5-6. In Kansas 2, they led 94 of the 267 laps (35%) but finished 1-2-3-5.
Over the past five NASCAR Cup Series seasons, the spring race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been a precursor to how the rest of the campaign will go.
In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. led 150 of the 267 laps in the Cup race en route to a dominating victory. He’d go on to win seven more times that season including the championship as well.
In 2018, Kevin Harvick won his first of eight trips to Victory Lane in the March race in Vegas as he led 214 laps that day. No one won as many races in 2018 as Harvick.
Joey Logano won the next two spring races and would march to fifth in the final standings at the end of the year in 2019 and the Championship 4 in 2020.
Kyle Larson won last year and won the title too later. The entire top six of the finishing order last spring took up six of the eight spots into the Round of 8 last postseason.
Does that change this year since there’s been so much parity from the new Next Gen car? This past spring saw Alex Bowman beat Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain. Kyle Busch and William Byron rounded out the top 5 that day.
Stage 2 Success
Here’s a strange but true stat, the second stage winner at Vegas has won seven times and was fifth in another in 10 tries. 2020 was the only outlier when Chase Elliott swept both stages in the spring race but cut a tire in the end. Kurt Busch snuck up and stole a win in the Fall race. That’s 4 of the last 6 races this stage produced the race winner too.
Youth Starting To Turn The Tide?
Joey Logano’s spring win in 2020 was the first time that a Cup winner was under the age of 30 in any of the previous races run at the track. Kyle Larson then won last year and was 28 at the time. This past spring, Alex Bowman was 29 in his spring race win this past year giving us 3 of the last 5 being under the age of 30.
5 times has the winner of the 7th playoff race gone on to win the title later that season – 2007 Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta), 2011 Tony Stewart (Martinsville), 2016 – Jimmie Johnson (Martinsville), 2018 – Joey Logano (Martinsville), 2021 – Kyle Larson (Texas).
Denny Hamlin (+650)
He won this race last year and was 4th and 2nd respectively in the 2 Kansas races at that. Hamlin has 3 top 4 finishes in his last 4 Vegas starts and has improved his finishing position in 4 of the 5 tracks that we’ve made a 2nd visit to in 2022.
Christopher Bell (+800)
Worth a look. He was seventh last year and 10th this past spring. Bell also was 5th and 3rd in the 2 Kansas races this season as well and enters as the last race winner on the season.He has bettered his result in 4 of the 5 return trips this season to tracks. Bell has 4 top 5’s in 6 playoff races too.
Tyler Reddick (+800)
He has a pair of top 10 finishes here in-a-row including 7th in the spring. Reddick also has 2 finishes outside the top 30 this year at Kansas but both were due to crashes while leading when a tire went down too…
Kyle Larson (+900)
He won last spring, was 2nd this spring and had a fast car last Fall too. On like tracks this season he’s finished 2nd (Kansas 1), 8th (Kansas 2) and 9th (Coke 600). The only question is, how locked in are they now after being eliminated from the playoffs in a shocking fashion last weekend?
Ross Chastain (+900)
Chastain won an Xfinity race for Ganassi here and was 3rd this past spring. On top of that, Chastain finished 7th in both Kansas races this season as well.
William Byron (+1000)
He finished seventh in the playoff race in 2019 and restarted the Spring race in 2020 on the front row before contact cut his tire on the overtime restart. He was eighth last year in this very race too. Byron finished 5th in the spring and 16th and 6th at the pair of Kansas races this season. He said when seeing tracks for a 2nd time has helped him this season. He’s right. He’s improved in 4 of those 5 races.
Martin Truex Jr. (+1200)
He has 9 top eight’s in his last 10 there overall. He was 6th and 5th respectively at Kansas this season as a like track.
Kyle Busch (+1500)
7 top 7’s in his last 9 Vegas starts including 4 straight top 6’s. He was 4th here in the spring and 3rd at Kansas’ spring race. He also enters on the heels of a top 5 last Sunday too.
Alex Bowman (+1500)
3 of his last 5 Vegas starts he had a top six. His other six finishes were outside the top 10 too. At Kansas, Bowman finished 9th in the spring and 4th this Fall including leading over 100 laps that day.
Chase Briscoe (+2000)
3 straight top 10 finishes on the season has him back on this list for favorable odds.
Brad Keselowski (+10000)
He has a top 10 finish in all but 2 starts at Vegas since Penske went to Ford’s in 2013. He won the Fall race in 2018. He was second and third respectively in 2019 and seventh and 13th in 2020, with a runner-up and seventh last year. Now he’s with his own team at RFK Racing and picking up speed.
Who To Fade?
Chase Elliott (+800)
Prior to a runner-up in last year’s playoff race, Elliott had just two career top fives on this track with his last 4 finishes being 26th, 22nd, 13th and 9th respectively. He has five finishes of 22nd or worse there too and was only 29th and 11th at Kansas. He enters this weekend with 5 of his last 7 results being outside the top 10 including 4 of which 20th or worse.
Joey Logano (+1200)
He has 10 Top-10 finishes in his last 13 Vegas starts but with only being 14th here in the spring and 17th in both races at Kansas this year makes me wary. He also has finished 17th or worse in 4 of the last 5 weeks on the season too.
Ryan Blaney (+1200)
He has eight Top-7 finishes in his last 11 starts in Vegas. He was 12th and 9th respectively in Kansas though too and without a win this year…
Kevin Harvick (+3000)
He has had three Top-4 finishes in a 5 race span before being eighth, 10th, 20th and ninth in his last four. At Kansas though, Harvick was only 15th and 36th respectively.
Austin Cindric (+5000)
I don’t see a rookie winning here. He finished 19th in the spring as well as being 11th and 12th respectively in the pair of Kansas races this season.