The Frontstretch: Matt's Driver Handicaps : Las Vegas by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday March 7, 2007

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Matt's Driver Handicaps : Las Vegas

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday March 7, 2007


Author's Note: The Las Vegas Speedway has been completely reconfigured for this event, with 20 degrees of banking added in the corners. While it ought to make for a much better race (if the Goodyears don't start failing in the middle of a fuel run), it also makes the track difficult to handicap. About the only thing left the same at Vegas is the distance around the speedway and the neon glow from Glitter Gulch in the distance; the track is now more like Charlotte and Atlanta and less like California and Michigan. I'll still go ahead and water the lawn in the rain, anyway…just take these handicaps with a grain of salt.

Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has won the last two Cup races at Vegas and his record at Charlotte is outstanding, so this should be a good weekend for him.

Matt Kenseth: Kenseth can be forgiven if he didn't think this track needed changing. He's won two Cup races here and finished in the top 10 in the last four Vegas events.

Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished tenth in his Cup car and sixth in his Busch car here last year. You'll have to ask the Vegas oddsmakers what the over/under is on a sophomore slump.

Kevin Harvick: Harvick has just one Top 5 and two Top 10 finishes in six Cup starts here. But he hasn't finished worse than third in the last four Busch races in Vegas, winning one of them in the process.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Junior is one of the drivers who probably applauds the changes to the track. While he finished second here in 2003, he's struggled in the last three Vegas Cup races and failed to finish two of them, including the infamous handling fiasco of ’05 where he was black flagged for going too slow.

Jeff Gordon: It has been feast or famine for Gordon here in the land of the over-the-top buffets. Gordon's win and four Top 5 finishes at Vegas are offset by five finishes of fifteenth or worse. He has managed Top 5s in his last two starts here, gaining a rhythm just in time for them to tear up and reconfigure the track. What's a Wonderboy to do?

Jeff Burton: Burton finished second in the inaugural Vegas Cup event and won the next two. Since then, he's split the difference with three top 10 finishes in six starts. Burton also has two wins here in the Busch series.

Kasey Kahne: Kahne has two Top 5 finishes in three Cup starts here. More importantly, he swept Charlotte last year, so this could be a good weekend for him.

Mark Martin: Martin won the inaugural Las Vegas Cup race and has finishes of sixth or better in six of his nine Cup starts on the old track.

Kyle Busch: Busch has finished second and third in the last two Cup races at his home track.

Tony Stewart: Stewart finished second here in 2000 and has Top 10 results in five of his eight Cup starts.

Carl Edwards: Edwards has struggled in both his Vegas Cup starts. Oddly enough, while he's posted Top 10 finishes in both his Busch starts here, he also failed to finish all three Vegas Truck series races he entered.

Greg Biffle: Biffle has Top 10 finishes in the last two Vegas Cup races, the last five Vegas Busch races, and the last two Truck series races he ran here, including a win in 1999. But Biffle hit the wall a ton here in preseason testing and may still be a little gunshy about the new configuration as a result.

Casey Mears: Mears has Top 10 finishes in the last three Vegas Cup races.

Brian Vickers: Vickers’ Vegas Cup starts have been his Waterloo; he's averaging a 29th place finish in three starts, and only lasted eleven laps in the 2005 race before wrecking out. I doubt the new Toy car is going to help him much.

Kurt Busch: Busch finished third here in 2005 but is averaging about a sixteenth place finish here.

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished fifteenth here last year driving a car with HBO's The Sopranos sponsorship. A win this week? Fahgedaboudit.

Ryan Newman: For Newman, it has been feast or famine at Las Vegas. His three Top 10 finishes here in six starts are offset by three finishes outside the Top 25. Last year was particularly lean for Ryan, who crashed and finished dead last.

Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex finished twentieth here last year in his only Vegas Cup start.

Scott Riggs: Riggs hasn't fared very well here, with an average finishing position of 29th in three Vegas Cup starts.

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Anthony Wehr
03/08/2007 02:44 PM

Wheres Elliott Sadler he was the fastest car in testing and is really excited about this weekend he will do a wail of a job at las vegas