Race: UAW-Dodge 400
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday March 2, 2008
Time: 3:30 pm ET
The big story this week: NO RAIN IN SIGHT! As a matter of fact, there
is no rain anywhere near Las Vegas predicted for the next seven days.
That’s a welcoming sight to all drivers and crews after the debacle last
Sunday in California after the race was delayed and eventually postponed
but not before several drivers totaled their rides for the weekend.
Despite this, everyone seems to be in good spirits as we move on to Sin
City in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a track known to be one of the most
exciting tracks on the circuit. It’s a mile and a half D-shaped oval
with nine degree banking in both the front and back stretches. The
turns are twenty degree banking. Mark Martin set the race record way
back in 1998, so, again, it will be great to see if these new cars have
anything for Martin’s old record. It will also have to do with the
cautions that these cars see as well.
As for driver stats here, both Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth are two-time
winners. But, although I know you are tired of hearing his name, Jimmie
Johnson has won the past three races at the track. Martin won the race
the same year that he set the race record. Both Sterling Marlin and
Jeff Gordon are also past winners here at this track.
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I would have to say that it is going to be difficult to bet against
Jimmie Johnson this year, seeing as he has won the past three races and
also after coming off such consistency that he had last year. Despite
his Daytona finish this year, Johnson ran strong during virtually all
practices and test sessions as well as qualifying. Consistency is the
name of the game here, so I am going with Johnson. We can never rule
out teammate Gordon, but his luck here has never been that great. In
fact, he does not hold a spot in the top five of average finishes,
average start, and laps led. While this is hard to believe, I do not
think that he is going to win it. I think he will perform well but
leave the winning to his buddy and teammate.
I will say that Matt Kenseth has a great record here as well. His
average finish is only slightly below Johnson’s at 7.6. He has two
wins, so he will be one to watch, but he is going to have to get around
Johnson for that victory in my opinion. Kenseth does not seem to have
much help from teammates either, and while Vegas is not a super
speedway, it never hurts to having someone else watching your back.
Hendrick is the role model for teamwork. As far as Johnson coming away
with a victory after struggles with Daytona, historically, Hendrick
teams have never picked up speed until they reach Las Vegas. In fact,
Johnson, Sprint Cup Champion last year, finished 39th at Daytona last
year, a statistic that few remember.
Despite rumors of Gibbs taking over Sprint Cup and the surprise showing
of Dodges during Daytona, Hendrick is never one to be counted out and
certainly still the front-runner. The teams have been together longer,
they know each other better, and they have the equipment to out perform
any other team (with respect to testing equipment, etc.). Toyota has
the potential to destroy track records and win every race this year, but
they first have to figure out how to STAY out front. My money this week
goes on Johnson.