The MENCS travels out west this week to compete at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We will need some luck on our side since NASCAR will be debuting the full 2019 rules package. The cars will be slower, the racing will be tighter and the finish will be more unpredictable from what we have seen in the past at this track. Hopefully these loaded dice will come up snake-eyes in Sin City. The race can be seen Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
One of the changes this season for the Driver Group Game is that your league commissioner has the ability to change to number of allocations for each driver and can place drivers into any group they choose. My picks will be based on the default settings (8 allocations per driver and the original group settings).
Qualifying was interesting to say the least. The cars will be lineup based on where they were in the draft and not the speed in their cars. There are some fast cars starting in the back and some slow cars starting up front. I expect the cream to rise to the top so my strategy will be to play my best drivers despite where they start the in the field.
Here are my picks for Las Vegas…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Brad Keselowski (8): My two Group A drivers (Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski) start deep in the field. I need to make sure I get 8 top 3 finishes out of Truex so I will save him for the races where he starts up front. Keselowski is already locked into the playoffs so he can gamble for track position. Keselowski has finished 7 consecutive races in the desert in the top 7, including wins in 3 of the last 6 races at the track. The draft will come into play Sunday and Keselowski is great at manipulating the air to get to the front. I will take my chances with the No. 2 car Sunday.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Brad Keselowski 3) Joey Logano 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Martin Truex Jr., 6) Kyle Larson 7) Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game B Picks
Ryan Blaney (8): Blaney has a 5.75 average finishing position since 2015 at Las Vegas. He probably would have had a chance to win the pole if normal qualifying was in affect at the track. Blaney will start 13th and he should finish in the top 10. Blaney will be in a good position to win if this race does come down to a drafting contest. He is one of the best young drivers at moving through the draft to make it to the front. I will take a chance with Blaney at his best 1.5-mile track.
Austin Dillon (8): Dillon looked fast in the test session at Las Vegas and the No. 3 team unloaded with a lot of speed Friday. Dillon had the fastest car in qualifying but could not keep up with the cars in the draft. He qualified 4th and he has the speed to keep his car up front. Dillon posted the fasted speed in Final practice with the fastest 10-lap average speed. The MENCS and Xfinity Series cars are similar this year so the extra seat time in the Xfinity Series race should help him this week. I will use an allocation with Dillon and save my top drivers for the races when this aero package is more predictable.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Ryan Blaney 2) Austin Dillon 3) Erik Jones 4) Denny Hamlin 5) Kurt Busch 6) Aric Almirola 7) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 8) Daniel Suarez 9) Jimmie Johnson 10) Alex Bowman
Driver Group Game C Picks
Daniel Hemric (8 I used Hemric last week and he almost rewarded me with a top-4 finish. The No. 8 car looks fast again this week. Hemric qualified 5th and the track position and excellent pit stall should keep him in the top 10. He had the 2nd fastest car in final practice with the fastest 10-lap average speed. I will continue to use Hemric until the other drivers in Group C catch up with him.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Daniel Hemric 2) Chris Buescher 3) Ryan Preece 4) Ty Dillon 5) Matt DiBenedetto
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Brad Keselowski (8)
Group B: Ryan Blaney (8), Austin Dillon (8)
Group C: Daniel Hemric (7)
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Good luck this week!
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