Las Vegas Preview

The green flag waves for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas in 2013. [Photo credit Getty Images]

The green flag waves for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas, Nevada. [Photo credit Getty Images]

by Dan Margetta and John Wiedemann

Kobalt 400
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
400.5 miles (267 laps)
Sunday, March 8 3:30 pm ET
FOX, 3 pm ET
PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour heads to the bright lights and fun of Las Vegas for the Kobalt Tools 400 Sunday afternoon at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is another 1.5 mile oval, similar to last week’s Atlanta stop, so expect the drivers who performed well there to have a good showing in Vegas as well.

The opening two races of the 2015 season have produced two different winners in Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson but many others have run well to start off the year and are in prime position to extend that streak of distinct winners to three at Las Vegas.

It’s Vegas baby! So place your bets as the Kobalt Tools 400 kicks off Sunday afternoon from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and while we’re not odds makers, we’ll do our best to tell you who to watch this weekend…


Jeff Gordon (Dan Margetta)
Jeff Gordon’s final season hasn’t started off the way he wanted it to as crashes in the opening two races have left him with finishes the equivalent of a pair of deuces. That isn’t to say he hasn’t raced strong however as he has been one of the fastest cars each week so far only to fall victim to bad luck. At 7-1 odds, he very well could turn that luck around this weekend in Vegas and I expect him to be a strong contender for the win on Sunday. He only holds a single Vegas victory that came way back in 2001 but this team finished last year strong and despite their finishes this year, their speed on the track shows they haven’t lost a step. Plus, the car Jeff Gordon will race on Sunday is the same one he drove to a convincing win last season at Indianapolis and the Hendrick Motorspors cars were very fast last week in Atlanta. Many people including some odds makers, will overlook Jeff Gordon this week, but don’t be surprised if he’s standing in victory lane at the end of the day on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick (John Wiedemann)
Kevin Harvick is due for a win and Las Vegas may just be the place for him to hit it big. A favorite according to the bookmakers, the line on Harvick was 9-2. Harvick’s stats at Vegas include an average finish of 14.7 with three top five, five top ten finishes and a driver rating that is eighth best. Even though he hasn’t yet won at Vegas, the signs point to him running well there this weekend. Including the finish to last season, Harvick is on a roll and last week’s race made it five races in a row that he has finished in the top two. Harvick started in the back last weekend, drove to the front and led the most laps in the race. Look for him to be up front again.

Jimmie Johnson (DM)
The question of when Jimmie Johnson will win a race in 2015 was answered rather quickly and convincingly last weekend in Atlanta as Johnson drove away from the field late in the race for the victory. That performance could be an early statement from the #48 team that after an off year a season ago, they are back in a big way to contend for that seventh championship. Being knocked out of the Chase early last year gave the most innovative group on the tour a few weeks head start to figure out this season’s rules and the work paid off with last week’s victory. Johnson is listed at 6-1 odds this week as he comes to a Vegas track where he has been extremely successful with four victories already in his pocket. The team will bring a brand new chassis to Las Vegas as they try to double down on their Atlanta win and try to become the season’s first repeat winner.

Brad Keselowski (JW)
Sunday’s Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas will mark the 200th career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Now in his sixth season, the 2012 series champion has 16 wins, 50 top five and 80 top ten finishes. Keselowski is also the defending race winner this weekend and will be a threat again to find victory lane. Keselowski seemed to be off his game early in the Atlanta race last weekend. By the end of the race Keselowski and the team were able to capture a ninth place finish which was a relief after finishing 41st at Daytona. Barring the same kind of start as he had in Atlanta, Keselowski should be in contention for the victory and justifying his 8-1 odds to win.

Joey Logano (DM)
A good rule in Las Vegas is to go with the hot hand and bet with someone who is on a roll. Joey Logano is on a roll to begin 2015 and he leads the point standings after winning the Daytona 500 and finishing fourth in Atlanta. Logano is listed at 8-1 odds for this weekend at Las Vegas, a track where he finished fourth a year ago. Logano’s Penske Ford is one of only a handful of the Blue Oval contingent to consistently be among the leaders in every practice session, qualifying, and race this season. Vegas loves a winner and Joey Logano’s hot streak to start 2015 could very well continue on Sunday in the Kobalt Tools 400.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (JW)
The odds for Dale Earnhardt Jr to capture his first victory in Las Vegas are 8-1. Junior has three top five and eight top ten finishes in Las Vegas and is coming off two third place runs in the two races this year so far. Quietly a contender a Atlanta, Junior’s run should be a big boost to the team and propel them to a solid run this weekend. So far the crew chief change hasn’t seemed to affect Earnhardt and he looks to be running as well as last season when he ran off three top two finishes to start the year, including a second place run at this race.

Martin Truex (DM)
Where did Martin Truex and the #78 team come from to start off 2015? Truex heads to Vegas sitting fifth in the point standings after a pair of top ten finishes to begin the season. He’s listed at 40-1 odds to win this week but Truex and this team have found a resurgence so to speak as the season begins. That momentum should carry on to Las Vegas this week and Truex has a more than legitimate shot at the victory on Sunday. This team entered 2015 on a very positive note both personally and professionally and that vibe has seemed to pay off with strong runs in the opening two races. Truex could surprise some people in the Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday.

Carl Edwards (JW)
Running at the front most of the day, Carl Edwards looked to have a solid finish coming his way until a flat tire ruined his day. Edwards was able to salvage a 12th place finish, but what could have been is key to predicting how he will run in Las Vegas. 10-1 are the odds set for Edwards at Vegas, a track where he has two wins, an average finish of 9.7 and the sixth best driver rating of current competitors. Things are looking good for the new Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Edwards has run great in the two races this season, now he just needs to finish the race like he has run. Las Vegas is the right track for him and I am predicting a third trip to victory lane in the middle of the Neon Garage at Vegas.

Greg Biffle (DM)
At one time Roush-Fenway Racing was one of the dominant teams at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the organization holds eight Vegas victories. Performance has fallen off a bit however and now their top driver, Greg Biffle comes into Las Vegas with whopping 100-1 odds to win. The team opened up 2015 optimistic they had turned the corner performance wise but last weekend’s Atlanta race wasn’t anything to write home about. The Las Vegas race should be a test to see if the less than stellar Atlanta results were a fluke or a continuation of the struggles from a year ago. Being listed at 100-1 odds this week should be incentive enough to prove the naysayers wrong. We shall see…

Share Button