The NASCAR Cup Series moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the 2011 Sprint Cup Season, the Kobalt Tools 400. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday. When:
Sunday, March 6; 3:14 p.m./et.Weather:
Sunny with a high around 71; wind out of the SW at 10 mph. There is a 20 percent chance of precipitation.The Track:
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1.5 mile tri-oval that was reconfigured in 2007 when the banking on the corners was been increased from 12 degrees to 20 degrees. Roush Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have mostly dominated races at the track since it opened in 1998. Key to Race:
BEAT THE BIG BOYS
There have been 12 races run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since it opened and cars from the Roush-Fenway and Hendrick Motorsports have won 10 of them. The ability these teams have to experiment with multiple setups gives them a better chance to win the race. Qualifying Procedures:
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by two lap qualifying runs on Friday, March 4 at 6:40 pm/et. Cars that finished in the top 35 in owner's points after the 2010 season are guaranteed a spot in the race.Fantasy Cheat Sheet:Top 5
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
: Johnson has won four of the past six races at Las Vegas. This is about as big of a lock as we will have all season so feel free to safely use the No. 48 in all leagues.
No. 18 Kyle Busch
: Busch won the 2009 race in Vegas and has six straight top 15 finishes at his hometown track. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon
: Gordon has finished in the top six in five of the last six races at Vegas. He should be in the lead pack again.
No. 16 Greg Biffle
: Biffle has been great the past three races at Vegas. He is a fast choice.
No. 5 Mark Martin
: Martin has notched seven top five finishes in 13 career starts at Vegas. He is a great option this weekend. 6 to 10
No. 31 Jeff Burton
: Burton has nine top 11 finishes in 13 career starts at Vegas. He will be one of the top cars.
No. 99 Carl Edwards
: Edwards won the 2008 race at Las Vegas. He will have a top 10 car again this weekend.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth
: Kenseth has won two of the last eight races at Vegas. He shouldn't have a problem cracking the top 10.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
: Hamlin has finished outside the top 10 just two times during his career at Vegas. We like his chances.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick
: Harvick has averaged a 10th place finish at Vegas the past six years. He should be a top 10 finisher again on Sunday.11 to 20
No. 4 Kasey Kahne
: Kahne has five top 11 finishes and two 35th or worse finishes at Vegas in his career. We expect he will be pushing to crack the top 10 on Sunday.
No. 14 Tony Stewart
: Stewart has been a top five finisher at Vegas four times. He will be right around the top 10 this weekend.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer
: Bowyer has back-to-back top 15 finishes at Vegas. He is a solid choice.
No. 22 Kurt Busch
: Busch has been inconsistent in Vegas during his career. This isn't a great weekend to use the deuce-deuce.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya
: Montoya is off to a great start this season. Vegas isn't a great track for him, but we expect he won't have an issue cracking the top 20.
No. 20 Joey Logano
: Logano has struggled so far this season, but we think he will turn it around this weekend. Now is a good time to grab "Sliced Bread" in all fantasy leagues.
No. 39 Ryan Newman
: Newman has been terrific so far this season. He should have the No. 39 inside the top 20 when the checkers fly on Sunday afternoon.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
: Junior has four consecutive top 16 finishes in Sin City. We expect he will have a strong car again.
No. 00 David Reutimann
: Reutimann is off to an awful start to the 2011 season. He is a good buy-low option this weekend at a track where he has had past success.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray
: McMurray always has followed up a bad race at Vegas with a solid finish at the track the next year. He came in 34th last year so we expect he will be back inside the top 20 this visit. 21 to 30
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.
: Truex has averaged a 19th place finish at Las Vegas during his career. We predict he will finish right around his average.
No. 6 David Ragan
: Ragan has been hit-or-miss at Vegas during his career. He is a bit of a risky pick on Sunday.
No. 83 Brian Vickers
: Vickers has cracked the top 20 just once in five career starts at Las Vegas. This might be a rare weekend we recommend shying away from the No. 83 car.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger is ranked fourth in the points right now. We don't recommend adding him immediately, but he is worth keeping an eye on, there is no doubt he has talent.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski
: The new Blue Deuce driver has been average so far this year. He was terrible at Vegas last year and we would only use him as a fourth driver this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard
: Menard is off to a terrific start this season. For those of you in deep leagues he is someone to grab immediately.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose
: Ambrose has cracked the top 20 in both of his career starts at Las Vegas. He is worth using in deep leagues.
No. 13 Casey Mears
: Las Vegas is one of the best tracks for Mears. If there is ever a weekend to use him it is this one.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
: Bobby has been rejuvenated in the No. 47 car this year. He has had past success at LVMS and could crack the top 25 with a little luck.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne
: We hope you followed the advice from last week's column and didn't rush out and grab Bayne. There is no doubt in our mind that he will be a top driver, but that is still several years down the road. Field Fillers
No. 78 Regan Smith
No. 34 David Gilliland
No. 7 Robby Gordon
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 32 Terry Labonte
No. 71 Andy Lally
No. 46 J.J. Yeley
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 09 Bill Elliott
No. 38 Travis Kvapil
No. 60 Landon Cassill
No. 37 Tony Raines
No. 66 Michael McDowell
No. 92 Brian KeselowskiBrownie's PicksTop Four:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Greg Biffle Sleepers:
1. Casey Mears
2. Marcos AmbroseBust of the Week:Brian Vickers