Author's Note: The Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is set for this Sunday, March 7th at 3:30 PM. Tune in on Fox Sports 1, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch the action.
Kyle Larson Top 5 Finish (Yes +165 DraftKings)
Kyle Larson is back. Larson was out of a cup car for 3/4 of the year and his first time around a track was qualifying recently at Daytona. Following a respectable 10th place finish there, he made a mistake with eight laps left while in second place at the road course and finished 30th. He came back strong last week at Homestead, however, with a fourth place finish. What’s most impressive for Larson is that he ran 61% of his laps last week inside of the top 5 and 97% of his laps inside of the top 10. Other drivers fell back through the field and had to work their way back up, but not Larson, and while fans had become used to seeing him ride up against the wall, his new Hendrick ride was fast enough that he didn’t have to. Rewind to last year’s Las Vegas spring race, and Larson also finished ninth while completing 70% of laps inside the top 10. He will start from third overall on Sunday, and I look for the #5 car to be a contender all race long.
Joey Logano (-118 DraftKings) vs. Brad Keselowski
The books seem to love to post this matchup in particular, and when looking at these Penske teammates, Joey Logano has the clear edge at Las Vegas. Logano won last year's spring race thanks to a late caution and a decision not to pit, while Brad Keselowski finished seventh. Looking deeper, Logano ran 83% (222/267) of his laps inside the top 5 and Keselowski only ran 7% inside the top 5. Logano also clocked 14 of the fastest laps, with nine of those coming in the second half of the race. In the fall race it was Keselowski that beat out Logano, finishing 13th to Logano’s 14th . While battling for the lead on lap 87, Logano and Kyle Busch made contact and Logano had to come to pit road for a tire going down. Before that, he had run 85/87 laps inside the top 5. Logano had a hiccup last week (25th at Homestead), but I fully expect the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford to rebound Sunday. Keselowski starts 10th/Logano starts 15th.
Ryan Blaney (-106 DraftKings) vs. Kyle Busch
Cool temperatures, along with tracks that have grip and high speeds, are "Ryan Blaney tracks." Blaney runs very well at Las Vegas in the spring compared to when it’s a little warmer in the fall race, and he ran the most laps inside the top-5 (87%) and clocked 19 fast laps in last year’s race as well. Blaney should have easily won that race, but a questionable call to pit while under a late caution pushed him back to an 11th place finish. Kyle Busch, on the other hand, struggled throughout the day en route to running 20% of his laps in the top 10 and a 15th overall finish. All in all this is not one of Busch’s strongest tracks, and Joe Gibbs Racing has a routine where they struggle at a track early in the year and come back later in the season to dominate. Even in the fall race, which is not a strong time for Blaney either, Busch won the matchup with a 6th place finish to Blaney’s 7th place finish. After going back and reviewing that race, Busch only beat Blaney by half a car length. This is the perfect spot for the underdog Blaney to rebound after a rough start to the year. Play the long game here, as Busch will start 14th and Blaney starts 26th.