Going into Las Vegas, it feels like a repeat of last weekend with the discussion of rain in the area for Saturday threatening Cup practice and Nationwide qualifying, not to mention the race itself. In the one Cup practice that took place on Friday so things seemed fairly obvious. Hendrick unloaded off the truck very well once again it seemed and Johnson and Junior were putting up very good laps in race setup immediately. Chevy overall seemed to be the quickest through much of the session until cars switched over to qualifying setups.
Once the cars began qualifying, hometown boy Kurt Busch landed the pole with a new track record over Jeff Gordon. Kevin Harvick?s run of brief success took a hit after hitting the wall in practice and following that up with a 34th place starting position. Go or Go-Homers that did not make the cut this week were the same as last week with Casey Mears and Terry Cook not being able to find enough speed out of their cars. Top 20 qualifying efforts from Papis, Speed, and Nemechek.
Since the remodel of the banking out in Vegas the race averages 11 cautions compared to roughly 5 and a half. So the ?new? track does promote better racing and I am all for it but the racing does get interrupted a little more than back in the day. Rain may be a factor as well on Sunday so perhaps a situation like Fontana last week may develop.
Drivers to Watch:
? Kyle Busch: Hometown boy who won here last year, has the best average finish in the three races since the remodel of 7.0 and is a factor wherever he goes anyways.
? Jimmie Johnson: No matter the track the car finds its way to the front before the checkered. He won the first race after the remodel, but since then has failed to finish on the lead lap at the track in the next two races.
? Dale Earnhardt Jr.: This may be the only time I list him as a driver to watch this season but he looks good in practice and has found some success past runnings of the race, including 2nd and 10th place finishes the past two seasons here.
? Jeff Burton: RCR is hot, he?s been very hot and the last two times Burton has run at Vegas he has finishes 3rd and 5th.
? Dark Horse Pick of the Week- Joey Logano: Qualified 6th, ran 5th last week at Fontana, and finished 13th in his first ever trip to the track last season.
Nationwide Drivers to Watch:
? Kyle Busch: Finished 2nd in 2007 here and qualified Top 5 in the past two races but crashed out early. He is a factor wherever he goes and the fact that he has run here 6 times and has not found victory lane, look for him to be hungry.
? Denny Hamlin: Until someone can beat them at the intermediate tracks, I probably will continue to pick both JGR cars in the Nationwide series. Hamlin looked good in practice and not running a full schedule he is only looking to win.
? Greg Biffle: Strong car out in Fontana last week and was quick in practice yesterday. Greg has finished first and second and the past two event here as well.
? Carl Edwards: Top 5 last week, Top 3 in both practices and in the past here has finished in the Top 10 in each of the last 2 at the new track.
? Non-Cup Pick of the Race: After last week?s performance I want to go with Brian Scott, but something is telling me to pick Danica. Actually nothing is telling me to pick her at all. I am going to watch her teammate Kelly Bires though. He is my pick of the week. Kelly quietly came home in the Top 10 last week and has looked decent in the practices on Friday and we all know the equipment is good enough.
Cars in Victory Lane: I will go with Hamlin in the Nationwide and for some reason I want to pick the 88 of Earnhardt on Sunday so I will.
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