Note: PRN has the radio coverage of the South Point 400
There are a number of stories to keep an eye on during Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Start of the Playoffs
The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin with Sunday’s race and 16 drivers have a chance to win this year’s title. The title field is led by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, who are tied at the top of the grid, with Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski the first four. Harvick, Truex Jr. and Keselowski have combined to win the last five races at LVMS.
New Look Schedule
For the first time since being added to the Cup Series calendar in 1998, Las Vegas will host two races this season. The change from Chicagoland Speedway, which had the number one playoff spot for several years, triggers a completely revamped first round that will see Richmond Raceway and the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway to follow. The unknown factor of what lies ahead might impact Sunday’s Vegas race and force playoff teams to be conservative so as to not have to play catch up the next two weeks.
The first 11 starting spots in Sunday’s race were claimed by playoff drivers in Friday’s qualifying session. Second year driver Erik Jones won the pole with Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson right behind. Austin Dillon was the poorest playoff qualifier and will start in the 18th position.
Truex Jr. Title Defense
There hasn’t been a back-to-back Cup Series champion since Jimmie Johnson in 2009-2010. Truex Jr. has a chance to put his name in the record book if he can replicate his title run of a year ago. He’ll have to overcome the news around Furniture Row Racing’s future, which will cease operations at the end of the season due to lack of sponsorship. It will be interesting to see how the team handles the internal pressure during the playoff run. (Read More)
Keselowski Hot Streak
The regular season has been dominated by the “Big 3” of Kyle Busch, Harvick and Truex Jr. who combined to win 17 of the first 26 races this year. But Brad Keselowski comes to Vegas as the hottest driver in the series with consecutive crown jewel wins at Darlington and Indianapolis. Keselowski has six straight Vegas top-10 finishes, including a pair of wins and will be trying to become the third driver (joining Harvick and Kyle Busch) to win three straight races in 2018. (Read More)
The Heat Is On
After a cool and wet trip to Indianapolis, weather conditions this week are the polar opposite. And by polar we don’t mean cold. Temperatures have hovered around triple digits all weekend in Vegas and the heat should make for slick on track conditions, meaning slipping, sliding and chassis adjustments will be in play over Sunday’s 400 miles.