The NASCAR Cup Series moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the 2012 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 11; 3:16 p.m./et.
Weather: Partly cloudy with a high around 73; wind out of the S at 7 mph. There is a ZERO percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Las Vegas MotorSpeedway
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 13 races run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since it opened and cars from the Roush-Fenway and Hendrick Motorsports stables have won 11 of them. The ability these teams have to experiment with multiple setups during practice gives them a great chance to win the race.
45 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by two lap qualifying runs on Friday, March 9 at 6:40 pm/et. Cars that finished in the top 35 in owner's points after the 2011 season are guaranteed a spot in the race.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has won four of the past seven races at Las Vegas. Feel free to safely use the No. 48 in all leagues.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards won the 2011 and 2008 races at Las Vegas. He will have a top five car again this weekend.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart has been a top five finisher at Vegas five times. He will finish inside the top 10 this weekend.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has finished outside the top 10 just two times during his career at Vegas. We love his chances.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has finished in the top six in five of the last seven races at Vegas. He should be in the lead pack again.
6 to 10
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been great in three of the past four races at Vegas. With the speed Ford brought to Daytona, the Biff is a fine choice.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch won the 2009 race in Vegas and has finished in the top 15 in six of the past seven races at his hometown track. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has won two of the last nine races at Vegas. He shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 10.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has averaged an 11th place finish at Vegas the past seven years. He should finish inside the top 11 again on Sunday.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has nine top 11 finishes in 14 career starts at Vegas. He will be one of the top cars.
11 to 20
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has five consecutive top 16 finishes in Sin City. We expect he will have a strong car again.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has six top 15 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. 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. 2 Brad Keselowski: The Blue Deuce has struggled at Vegas so far in his career, but he will breakout of the slump on Sunday.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has notched seven top five finishes in 14 career starts at Vegas. He is a rock solid third driver in all fantasy leagues.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has back-to-back-to-back top 15 finishes at Vegas. He is a solid choice.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has cracked the top 20 in all three of his career starts at Las Vegas. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch has been inconsistent in Vegas during his career. This isn’t a great weekend to use the Cinco-Uno.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya ran a strong race at Vegas last year. He should bring some speed this visit to Sin City.
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.
21 to 30
No. 22 A.J. Allmendinger: Dinger is off to a decent start to the 2012 season. He is worth grabbing in most leagues.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has averaged an 18th place finish at Las Vegas during his career. We predict he will finish right around his average.
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. 10 David Reutimann: Reutimann is off to an awful start to the 2012 season. He is a good buy-low option this weekend at a track where he has had past success.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has averaged just a 20th place finish at Vegas in his career. He isn’t much of an option.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has been hit-or-miss at Vegas during his career. He is a bit of a risky pick on Sunday.
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 had past success at LVMS and could crack the top 25 with a little luck.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne: Bayne had some tough luck at Daytona this year. He will be eager to get a chance to race the No. 21 car while actually being on the lead lap.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola driving very well behind the wheel of the No. 43. He is someone to grab in all deep leagues.
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 78 Regan Smith
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 33 Brendan Gaughan
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 7 Robby Gordon
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 49 J.J. Yeley
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 26 Josh Wise
No. 37 Timmy Hill
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Tony Stewart
4. Denny Hamlin
1. Casey Mears
2. Paul Menard
Bust of the Week: