NASCAR Picks for Las Vegas
Length: 1.500 miles
Shape: D-Shaped Oval
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Be sure to read this weekend's Practice Recap and 7 Drivers to Watch.
The Cup Series wraps up a two-week road trip out West this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile oval has seen plenty of changes over the years, transforming from what was essentially a flat, one-groove track to a high-speed, multi-lane track with progressive banking. Not surprisingly, some drivers have struggled to remain successful at the ever-evolving track, but at the end of the day, a majority of the drivers that have excelled at the intermediate ovals have run well at Las Vegas. For that reason alone, Sunday's Kobalt 400 is one of the most important early races of the season from a fantasy perspective. Keep in mind that there are more 1.5-mile ovals on the schedule than any other track type. Your main focus should still be on building a strong roster for this weekend's race, but pay close attention to how every driver performs. Going forward, the information gained can be just as valuable.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Kenseth is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he is a three-time winner at Vegas for his career. Meanwhile, his 11.9 average finish at the track is the third best in the series. Last year, Kenseth led all drivers with four wins and a 5.7 average finish in 11 races at 1.5-mile tracks. He is definitely the man to beat until somebody else proves otherwise.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He has been excellent at Las Vegas throughout his career. In addition to a series-leading 9.5 average finish at the track, Johnson has tallied a series-best four wins. In 12 starts at Vegas, Johnson has finished sixth or better six times, including three times in his last four starts at the track.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
The Nevada native has made himself at home at his home-state track. In 10 starts at Las Vegas, Busch has recorded seven top-15 finishes. More importantly, he has finished fourth or better four times, winning at the track in 2009. Busch is also coming off a year when he won two races at 1.5-mile tracks, while Joe Gibbs Racing combined to win seven of the 11 events at 1.5-mile tracks.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Edwards has been on the most reliable options at Las Vegas throughout his career. His 9.7 average finish at the track is the second best in the series, and in nine starts, he has seven top-15 finishes. Meanwhile, Edwards is a two-time winner at Vegas, and he has cracked the top five in the last three races at the track.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He came out on the wrong end of a great battle for the win in the closing laps at Las Vegas last year, but he did lead a race-high 114 laps en route to his second runner-up finish at Vegas. For his career, Kahne has seven top-15s in 10 starts at the track, including four finishes of sixth or better.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Junior is off to a torrid start in 2014, and he has been quietly stringing together solid runs at Vegas for a while now. He has three straight top-10s at the track, and in his last seven starts, he has finished 11th or better six times. Junior's worst finish during the stretch is 16th, so he is definitely among the more dependable options this weekend.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although normally a slow starter, Stewart has been on the mark at Las Vegas the past several years. He has finished 11th or better in four straight starts at the track, compiling a 5.3 average finish during the stretch. Meanwhile, Stewart finished second at Vegas in 2011 and won in 2012, leading the most laps in both events.
Kevin Harvick, #4 Budweiser/Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He is still looking for a win at Las Vegas, but Harvick has made up for his lack of wins with excellent consistency. He has seven top-12 finishes in his last nine starts at the track, including five in his last six starts. Not to mention the fact that Harvick scored the second-most points of any driver at 1.5-mile tracks last year.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Hamlin has been solid at Las Vegas, compiling a 13.1 average finish and finishing in the top 20 in seven of his eight starts at the track. On the flip side, he only has one top-five finish at the track, so fantasy owners should expect a solid (but not spectacular) day from him this weekend. In Yahoo! leagues and other similar formats, you can probably get more bang for your buck by saving him for another track.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]
After starting his career with four straight finishes outside the top 25 at Las Vegas, he finally broke through at the track last year. Keselowski finished a strong third at the track last March, and he is a much better option this weekend than his 25.0 average finish suggests.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He has been a little up and down at Las Vegas lately, but Gordon's numbers at the track are pretty impressive. In addition to being a former winner at Vegas, he has finished in the top 15 in seven of his last 10 starts. During the stretch, Gordon has tallied five finishes of sixth or better.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In 10 career starts at Las Vegas, Biffle has finished in the top 10 on six occasions. A couple of third-place runs are his only top-five finishes, but his 13.8 average finish ranks eighth among active drivers. Texas, Homestead and Kansas have all been kinder to Biffle, but he makes a viable option at any 1.5-mile track, including Las Vegas.