Race No. 3 of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules brings both series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Similar to Auto Club Speedway, Roush Fenway Racing has traditionally run very well at the 1.5 mile tri-oval, visiting Victory Lane six times. Hendrick Motorsports has won another four times at the track. Chip Ganassi’s team (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) with Sterling Marlin driving (2002), and Joe Gibbs Racing last year with Kyle Busch are the only other teams to visit Victory Lane.
As Mike mentioned in his Weekend Lowdown last week, Jimmie Johnson used Auto Club Speedway to his advantage, winning for the fifth time at the track. The victory boosted him all the way to 12th in points from 35th.
Over the past eight years, Jeff Burton, with 1128 points, has scored the most points at LVMS. Burton has competed in every Cup Series race at LVMS and currently sports an overall average finish of 9.8 (9.4 over the past eight years). He has two career wins at the track (1999 and 2000) and has only finished off of the lead lap once (2001, when he crashed two laps into the race and had to go to the garage for repairs). It has been 44 races since Burton last went to Victory Lane. With the up tick in performance from RCR so far this season, this looks like a pretty good chance for Burton to return to Victory Lane for the 22nd time in his Cup career.
Jimmie Johnson is also very strong at Las Vegas, having earned just one less point over the last eight races there than Burton. In his eight career starts at LVMS, Johnson has three victories (consecutive, 2005-2007) and four top 10 finishes. However, he has struggled there the last two years with uncharacteristic finishes outside of the top 20. In 2008, Johnson struggled all day and finished 29th. Last year, Johnson led 92 laps, but crashed with six laps to go and finished 24th. Johnson will have a lot of momentum from his victory last weekend in Fontana, no matter how lucky it may have been.
What You Need to Know About this Weekend’s Races
Practice, Qualifying and Race Coverage
All Times Eastern Standard Time
2:00 p.m. – Nationwide Series Practice (SPEED)
3:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Practice (SPEED)
4:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series Happy Hour (SPEED)
6:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Qualifying (SPEED)
12:00 p.m – Nationwide Series Qualifying (SPEED)
1:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Practice (SPEED)
2:30 p.m.- Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour (SPEED)
5:00 p.m.- NASCAR Countdown (ESPN 2)
5:30 p.m.- Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300 (ESPN 2)
2:00 p.m. – Shelby American Pre-Race (FOX)
3:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Shelby American (FOX)
What’s the Odds
Las Vegas is well known for gambling, so of course we’re going to give you some betting odds. These are simply examples of betting odds, available via BetUS.com, and are accurate as of Thursday night.
Jimmie Johnson: 4/1
Kyle Busch: 7/1
Jeff Burton: 15/1
Carl Edwards: 15/1
Greg Biffle: 15/1
Matt Kenseth: 20/1
Martin Truex, Jr.: 50/1
Advice: Over the previous races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, two race teams have dominated. Roush Fenway Racing has won six times in Las Vegas, including the first three Cup races at the track. In fact, Roush managed to get all five of their cars (driven by race winner Mark Martin, Ted Musgrave, Johnny Benson, Chad Little and Jeff Burton) in the top 10 at the end of the race back in 1998. Hendrick Motorsports has won four times in Vegas, once (2001) for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson has won three times, including a thrilling pass for the win at the line in 2006. Your best bet is likely going to come from these two teams.
Frontstretch Live Blog
The Frontstretch Live Blog kicks off Sunday at 3 p.m. for the Shelby American. Make sure to stop by and join in the chat as your favorite Frontstretch writers breakdown all of the on-track action live from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Drivers to Watch
Nationwide Series (Nationwide-only drivers)
- Danica Patrick: Only because she has apparently learned from her disappointing run in Fontana and now seems to know how to function in traffic.
- John Wes Townley: Yes, I picked Townley. He qualified very well in Fontana before having some issues during the race. Hopefully, he can recoup his qualifying momentum from last week and parlay that into the race.
- Brendan Gaughan: Never underestimate the power of being in one’s hometown. Brendan will want to make the home crowd proud.
- Kelly Bires: Came back from a terrible qualifying effort in Fontana to post a top 10 finish.
- Jeff Burton: Ran very well last weekend in Fontana, but came up just a little bit short at the end. Lets see if he can repeat the performance at one of his best tracks.
- Kevin Harvick: Was likely going to win last week in Fontana if he didn’t hit the wall.
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Needs a good run so the team can forget the broken axle in Fontana.
- Matt Kenseth: Obligatory Roush Fenway Racing pick. Likely to be very strong on Sunday
- Jimmie Johnson: Has to shake off the demons of the past two years in Vegas.
LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
Sam’s Town 300: Kyle Busch
Shelby American: Jeff Burton
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