The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week in the Pennzoil 400. The races in the desert are usually pretty predictable but that may not be the case this week since this will be the first race with NASCAR’s full rules package. The racing should be closer and we should see more leaders. It should be one of the better races at the track in a long time. The race can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
The MENCS will have a normal schedule this week. The first practice is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. ET (FS1). Qualifying is Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1). There will be two practices Saturday. The first is at 11:30 a.m. ET (FS1) and the final practice is at 2:30 p.m. ET (FS1). Our lineups need to be submitted before 7 a.m. ET on Friday!
Ryan Blaney won the pole for the 2018 Pennzoil 400. He only led one lap before Kevin Harvick took over. Harvick won Stage 1 and Stage and then went on to win the race. Harvick totally dominated the race. The No. 4 car led 214 of the 267 laps but the win was taken away because the car had an illegal rear window brace. The Team Penske Fords finished 5th, 6th and 7th and Paul Menard was 9th. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson also looked good in the race.
Race Rewind at Las Vegas: PennzOil 400 (2018)
2019 Rules Package
NASCAR used the new aero package last week but it was not the full rules package for the 2019 season. The track at Atlanta is so abrasive that the cars had to have cooling ducts on the tires and brakes. This week the cars will have are ducts which to take the air from the front of the car and pass it through the side of the car. This will punch a bigger hole in the air and cause for more drafting.
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
It will be back to a normal length race on a 1.5-mile track this week. The race in Las Vegas is only 400 miles and not 500 like the two races that opened the season. That means there will be 267 laps and 66.75 bonus points available for leading laps and 133.5 bonus points available for fastest laps.
The trend at Las Vegas is for one driver to lead well over 100 laps. Last year Kevin Harvick led 214 and Martin Truex Jr. led 150 laps in 2017. The 2019 aero package should even out the field and allow for more drivers to lead laps. I expect one driver to lead roughly 80 laps, another to lead 75 and 3 others drivers to lead over 20 laps. The fastest laps will be spread out through the field based on where a driver is running in the draft. There should be more dominators this week. I plan to select 3 drivers who I think can dominate the race and fill the rest of the team with drivers who can score place differential points.
The drivers I expect to be the top dominators this week are: Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick
The drivers who could be the top value picks for the race Sunday include: Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman
The drivers I expect to be the best cheap drivers for the race Sunday include: Paul Menard, Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece and Michael McDowell
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 4 Races at Las Vegas
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Martin Truex Jr.||
|2. Brad Keselowski||
|3. Joey Logano||
|4. Jimmie Johnson||
|5. Kyle Busch||
|6. Ryan Blaney||
|7. Ryan Newman||
|8. Aric Almirola||
|9. Kyle Larson||
|10. Paul Menard||
|11. Austin Dillon||
|12. Kevin Harvick||
|13. Chris Buescher||
|14. Alex Bowman||
|15. Clint Bowyer||
I will post my final DraftKings picks no later than Sunday morning.
Fantasy Live Preview
My Fantasy Live picks continue to perform well. After two very unpredictable races, the picks scored 364 points and are beating 96.9% of the competition. Not too bad but we will not be satisfied until will are in the top 100 overall.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 7.30 p.m. ET Friday. My pick for the pole will be posted after the first practice Friday (4 p.m. ET) on the front page of this website.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
5 Starting Drivers
Kevin Harvick (9): Harvick absolutely dominated this race last year. He swept the Stages, led 214 of the 267 laps and went on to Victory Lane. The win was taken away after the race because his rear window brace was not secured properly. Was his dominance in the race a result of the extra down-force from the window or was his car just that fast. The No. 4 team said the brace made no difference in the race. I plan to have Harvick on my team just in case he brings another car to Las Vegas that can dominate the race Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. (9): Truex Jr. came close to winning at Atlanta and now he is my pick to win Sunday (before qualifying and practices). Truex has been a beast at Las Vegas. He has finished 1st, 4th and 3rd in his last 3 races at Las Vegas. He is averaging 84-laps led in these races as well. Truex should qualifying up front, lead some laps, score top-5 Stage points and be a threat to go to Victory Lane. What more could you ask from your fantasy driver?
Brad Keselowski (10): Keselowski does not need the flu to win at Las Vegas. He has three trips to Victory Lane at the track on his resume, including the last race in Sin City. This is a Team Penske track and Keselowski has been their best driver. Here are his finishes at Las Vegas since 2012: 1st, 6th, 5th, 1st, 7th, 1st and 3rd. That is an average finishing position of 3.4 in his last 7 races at the track. It does not get much safer than that for your fantasy team this week.
Joey Logano (10): Logano has never won at Las Vegs but that does not mean he is a bad pick. Logano has not finished outside the top 10 in Sin City since 2013 (6 races). He is also one of the best at qualifying at the track. Logano has started 4 of the last 6 races at the track on the front row. Logano should start up front, score a lot of Stage points and finish in the top 5 Sunday.
Kyle Larson (9): If Larson could have kept his pit road speed under control last week he could be locked into the playoffs already with a win at Atlanta. I expect Larson to be good again Sunday. He has a series-best 2.3 average finishing position in the last 3 races at Las Vegas (He finished 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in his last 3 races at the track). I will plan to play Larson this week and hope his success at Las Vegas continues.
My Garage Driver will likely be Ryan Blaney (9). Las Vegas is the best 1.5-mile track for Blaney. Last year he won the pole for this race and finished 5th in the spring and summer races at the track. Blaney has not finished outside the top 7 at Las Vegas since 2015. That makes him a safe pick to have in the Garage. This is a Team Penske track and I want access to all of their drivers Sunday.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Ryan Blaney
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Winning Manufacturer: Toyota
** Photos from NASCAR Media
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook