Driver Handicaps: Las Vegas

47604Jpg
Share:
This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Shelby 427. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 285-lap event.

Who's HOT at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
• Matt Kenseth has a 6.0 average finish in the last six races, which includes two wins, plus he has led the most laps of any driver with 438.
• Jimmie Johnson has won the last three of the last four events and has a series-leading driver rating in that span.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers with nine top 10s and is tied with Jeff Gordon for the most top fives (5).
• Defending event winner Carl Edwards won on four tracks with the new car in 2008 measuring exactly 1.5-miles in length.
• Kyle Busch has a 6.3 average finish in his last four starts.

Keep an Eye on at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second in this event last year.
• Jamie McMurray will be driving a car that performend well at Homestead-Miami last season.
• Jeff Burton has the best average finish (10.5) among all drivers that have entered every event
• Greg Biffle has posted an average finish of 8.3 in his last four starts.
• Denny Hamlin has yet to finish outside the top 10 in three starts.
• Tony Stewart has finished in the top 10 six times at Las Vegas.

Track Performers
In 2008, Kevin Harvick led all drivers with a 7.5 average finish in the eight races contested with the new car on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length. Kyle Busch was second with an average finish of 9.4. Defending Las Vegas winner Carl Edwards won the most races with four and led the most laps with 624. Both Edwards and Greg Biffle topped all drivers with six top 10s. Additionally, Edwards and Busch each won a race in 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which measures 1.54 miles in length.

Qualifying Tidbits
Kasey Kahne and Bobby Labonte are tied for the pole lead, with two, among active drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In 2007, Kahne reset his own qualifying record with a lap of 184.856 mph. Last year, Kyle Busch won his first Sprint Cup pole at Las Vegas after turing a lap of 182.352 mph in the M&M's Toyota. Carl Edwards won the 2008 race from the second position to become the fourth driver to win from a top-10 starting position. Matt Kenseth's 2004 victory came from the furthest starting position - 25th. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Auto Club Winners

Las Vegas Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Kyle Busch
1. Jeff Gordon
1. Kyle Busch - 6.8
2. Matt Kenseth
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Jeff Gordon - 7.5
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Carl Edwards
3. Jeff Burton - 10.5
4. Jeff Gordon
4. Greg Biffle
4. Greg Biffle - 10.7
5. Tony Stewart
5. Tony Stewart
5. Matt Kenseth - 10.8
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 1001
1. Jeff Gordon - 186
1. Jimmie Johnson - 112.0
2. Kyle Busch - 997
2. Kyle Busch - 174
2. Jeff Gordon - 111.4
3. Jeff Burton - 866
3. Jeff Burton - 171
3. Kyle Busch - 109.8
4. Greg Biffle - 795
4. Tony Stewart - 155
4. Matt Kenseth - 107.8
5. Mark Martin - 780
5. Jimmie Johnson - 148
5. Greg Biffle - 100.2

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


RacingOne Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Mark Martin
Pete Pistone: Matt Kenseth
Rachael West: Greg Biffle
Kym Opalenik: Jeff Gordon

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings


1. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has averaged a 6.0 finish in his last six starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, that includes back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004. His overall 9.0 finishing average at LVMS is second among all drivers. Also, Kenseth has led the most laps at Vegas with 438.

2. Jeff Gordon: Gordon captured his fifth top five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2007 when he led 111 laps en route to a second-place finish. His best finish at the speedway was in 2001 when he went to Victory Lane. Last year, Gordon was involved in a hard crash on the backstretch in the closing laps. He wound up finishing 35th in that event, which marked his second DNF in 11 starts at LVMS.

3. Kurt Busch: Busch finished 16th, 26th and 38th, respectively, in his three starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Penske Racing. In his five previous starts, Busch captured two top 10s with Roush Fenway Racing. Busch, who has the best starting average (6.1) among all drivers, will be racing chassis No. PSC-579 this weekend. This is a car that raced four times in 2008, debuting at Michigan in August.

4. Tony Stewart: Stewart has posted six top-10 finishes in 10 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his best finish coming in 2000 (second). The last time Stewart led a lap at LVMS was in 2006 when he led for 54 laps en route to a 21st-place finish because of a flat tire late in the race. The finish stopped Stewart's top 10 streak at four. Last year he finished 43rd after a blown right-front tire on lap 108 took him out of contention. This weekend Stewart will make his Vegas debut with Stewart-Haas Racing in the same car (chassis No. 450) that last finished 17th at Bristol Motor Speedway (August) with driver Tony Raines.

5. Greg Biffle: Biffle has posted an average finish of 8.3 in his last four starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His overall finishing average is 14.6 thanks to a 40th-place finish in 2004 due to engine problems.

6. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has yet to post a top-10 finish in three starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last year, Bowyer fought an ill-handling car to a 28th-place finish. This weekend he will be racing a brand new car (chassis No. 263) in the Shelby 427.

7. Michael Waltrip: Waltrip has competed in 10 races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After failing to qualify in 2007, Waltrip finished 31st last season in his first track start behind the wheel of the No. 55 Toyota. Waltrip's lone top 10 came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2003 when he finished third.

8. David Ragan: Ragan is coming off his first top 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after finishing seventh last season. The finish improved his finishing average to 22.0 after finishing 37th in his first start in 2007. This weekend Ragan will be driving a new car (chassis No. 620) in the Shelby 427.

9. Carl Edwards: Edwards is coming off his first win at Las vegas Motor Speedway after leading 86 laps from the second starting position. The win boosted his finishing average to 11.8 in four starts at the 1.5-mile track. This weekend Edwards will be driving a brand new chassis (RK-558) in the Shelby 427.

10. Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya will be making his third Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. His best start was fourth in his rookie season (2007) and best finish of 19th came last year.

11. Elliott Sadler: In 2004, Sadler scored his only top 10 in 10 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after he came home sixth. In six of his nine other starts, Sadler has finished 20th or worse with two outside the top 40. His career average finish at Vegas is 23.9. The past two seasons, Sadler finished 14th and 12th in his two track starts with (Gillett-Evernham) Richard Petty Motorsports.

12. David Reutimann: After failing to qualify for the 2007 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Reutimann made the show last year and finished 37th.

13. AJ Allmendinger: This weekend, Allmendinger will attempt to qualify for his first Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He failed to qualify for the 2007 and 2008 race, driving for Team Red Bull.

14. Reed Sorenson: Sorenson has the worst average finish (29.7) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway among all active drivers with two or more starts. His best finish came last year in 18th.

15. Denny Hamlin: Las Vegas Motor Speedway is Hamlin's best 1.5-mile speedway on the circuit based on his 7.3 average finish. Last year he finished ninth after battling back from going a lap down. This weekend Hamlin will drive the same car (chassis No. 225) that finished 17th at Texas last November.

16. Kevin Harvick: In 2005 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Harvick had the fourth fastest time in qualifying, but his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet failed to pass post-qualifying inspection for not having a full tank of fuel during his run. He was forced to start 42nd after NASCAR said the fuel pump had been altered to make it appear like it was full. Harvick battled back from the rear of the field to post his first of two career top fives at LVMS. His best finish came last year when he started 17th and finished fourth. Las Vegas is also the site of Harvick's first career top-10 in the Sprint Cup Series when he finished eighth in 2001. In 2004, Harvick had a strong run at Vegas leading 43 laps towards the end before running out of fuel. He ended-up finishing 21st, one lap down. Harvick, who has a 14.2 finishing average at Vegas, will debut a new car (chassis No. 272) in the Shelby 427.

17. Martin Truex Jr: Last year, Truex Jr. posted his best finish (12th) in his second start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2007. He also led his first laps (2) at the 1.5-mile speedway. Last year, Truex Jr. finished 15th to bring his finishing average to 15.7. This weekend he will pilot a new car (chassis No. 80) in the Shelby 427.

18. Kyle Busch: Busch has posted an average finish of 6.3 in his last four starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His first start at the track came in 2004 when he ran a partial schedule in the Cup Series. In that race, he finished 41st after crashing on lap 11. Last year in this event, Busch made his Vegas debut with Joe Gibbs Racing. He won the pole for that race and led 56 laps before finishing 11th. This weekend Busch will pilot the same chassis (No. 229) that finished sixth last November at Texas Motor Speedway.

19. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson won three consecutive Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from 2005-2007. In 2006, he only led the most important lap when he passed Matt Kenseth en route to the victory. In his two other wins, Johnson led a combined 196 laps, including a personal track-best 107 in 2005. Johnson, who finished 29th last season, has four top-10 finishes in seven starts at Vegas. Last season, Johnson posted his worst finish at LVMS in 29th to raise his overall finishing average to 9.3. This weekend, Johnson will be piloting a new car (chassis No. 534) in the Shelby 427.

20. Casey Mears: Las Vegas Motor Speedway is Mears' second-best track on the Sprint Cup schedule based on his 15.2 average finish. All three of his top-10 finishes came with Chip Ganassi Racing from 2004-2006. This weekend he will make his track debut with Richard Childress Racing driving a new car (chassis No. 273).

Notable Drivers Outside the Top 20

23. Kasey Kahne: Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the site of Kahne's first career pole after he became the first rookie to take the top spot at the track. He went on to lead two times for 43 laps en route to a second-place finish in that event. Kahne reset his own track record last year with a lap of 184.856 mph. Kahne's average finish took a hit in 2005 and in 2007 with a pair of crashes. He was able to rebound in 2008 with a sixth-place effort to bring his finishing average down to 17.0.

26. Brian Vickers: After failing to qualify in 2007, Vickers made his first start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Team Red Bull last year and finished 24th. Vickers' best finish at LVMS came with Hendrick Motorsports in 2006 when he finished 23rd. In 2005, he finished last after Dale Earnhardt Jr. clipped him early in the race. Vickers was one of four drivers to participate in a Goodyear tire test in December.

27. Mark Martin: Inaugural Las Vegas race winner Martin is second to Jeff Burton for the best finishing average among all drivers that have competed in every race. Martin's 11.1 average finish is coupled by two finishes outside the top 10 due to mechanical problems in 2003 and 2005. His worst finish (43rd) came in 2003 as a result of engine failure. Martin, who has a series leading nine top-10 finishes at LVMS, will be making his Vegas debut with Hendrick Motorsports. Martin was able to work with the team at LVMS over the offseason during a Goodyear tire test. He will drive the same car (chassis No. 523) that was used in the test when he makes his 725th career start on Sunday.

28. Jamie McMurray: In 2007, McMurray scored his second top 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after finishing 10th. His other two starts with Roush Fenway Racing have resulted in finished outside the top 20. His best finish (fourth) came with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2004. This weekend the No. 26 Team will be racing the same car (chassis No. 617) that finished third at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season.

31. Jeff Burton: At 10.5, Burton has the best finishing average among all drivers that have entered every Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After placing 17th, seventh, 15th and fifth, respectively, Burton will make his fifth start at LVMS in an RCR Chevrolet. Burton, who combined to lead his first laps (14) with RCR at LVMS over the past two seasons, will be behind the wheel of a brand new car (chassis No. 271).

33. Ryan Newman: Newman rebounded from a 43rd-place finish in 2006 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with an eighth-place and 14th-place finish the following seasons. In 2005, Newman earned his only pole at LVMS marking his fourth consecutive start at the track of fifth or better. Newman's best finish, of fourth, came in 2002 - the year that he captured NASCAR Rookie-of-the-Year honors. This weekend Newman will make his first track start with Stewart-Haas Racing.

35. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Earnhardt Jr. is coming off his second runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The finish in the 2008 event came in his first track start with Hendrick Motorsports. His previous eight starts came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. where he posted two top 10s. Earnhardt's finishing average of 20.8 took a major hit in 2005 when he was the instigator in an early crash when he clipped the left rear of Brian Vickers. The incident triggered a five car crash and saddled Earnhardt, Jr. with a 42nd-place finish. This weekend Dale Jr. will race the same car (chassis No. 488) that raced last season at Vegas and Texas (finished 12th).

Next MRN Broadcast

On Air Now
Dec. 19, 2017 7:00 PM ET

Upcoming Cup Broadcasts

© 2017 MRN. All Rights Reserved

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

ISC Track Sites