Race: Shelby 427
Date: Sunday March 1st, 2009
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Time: 3:30 pm ET
If luck is your game, this weekend is your race. We are heading to the 1.5 mile oval known as Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This track is awesome. I absolutely love watching this race and didn’t realize how fast these cars could get until I had the opportunity to drive this track last fall. It is a D-shaped oval with 9 degree banking on the straights and 20 degree banking in the turns. I really didn’t know what 20 degree banking felt like, but let me tell you, the force you feel going into those turns is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, especially at 160 mph.
The frontstretch boasts 2275 feet while the backstretch is a short 1572 feet. You can really get up and rolling off turn four and get up some serious speed on the front stretch as you dive into turn one.
One of the hardest parts of the track in my opinion had nothing to do with the banking, the turns, the straights, or any of that. It was the glare that you get coming off turn four and heading down the frontstretch. When Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds show you that glare that the drivers fight on tv, it’s nothing nearly as difficult as seeing it in person when you’re going that fast. Honestly, I wasn’t scared of the horsepower, the speed, or the turns. I was scared that I couldn’t see where the heck my marks were!
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This track is awesome. It’s one that you can really race on and get some good side-by-side going on, which is different than what we saw last weekend at California. I think that we are going to see some good races throughout the pack on Sunday. This is one of those tracks where we see the two typical teams dominate. The Hendrick guys are strong and always do well here, but the Roush guys are the ones to watch as well, especially that Matt Kenseth. Winning the first two races of the season is nothing to sneeze at.
Carl Edwards is the defending winner here, while Jimmie Johnson won the three consecutive races prior to that. Before Johnson, Kenseth dominated the two years prior with Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton also showing their strength here. Now while Kyle Busch doesn’t have a Cup win here, I really think that he is the one to watch. We are going to see a heck of a front pack fighting it out. I’d be looking to see Gordon, Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Kenseth running strong all day. If Gordon can solidify his pit crew a little more, I think he will be more of a threat. I really just think that Busch is going to throw it all out there at his home track though. He’s been very strong, showing that consistency that he had early last year as well.
It could easily be a toss up between Gordon and Busch, but I think Busch will come away with the win this weekend. Here’s a recap of your current top 12 in points so we can evaluate how much movement there’s going to be after this weekend:
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Kurt Busch
4. Tony Stewart
5. Greg Biffle
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Michael Waltrip
8. David Ragan
9. Carl Edwards
10. Juan Montoya
11. Elliot Sadler
12. David Reutimann
There is definitely more than one standout this year. We are seeing the good ‘ole boys in Kenseth and Gordon coming back to their rightful spots at the top. We’re also seeing a very strong development of a new team with Tony Stewart and all of his guys. It’s going to be interesting in the next couple of weeks to see who truly is going to maintain that consistency that will win the Cup. I can certainly say that Johnson is going to give it his all to be the first 4 consecutive championships driver. That is a heck of a feat, but if he can repeat his last three years, he’s a shoe-in. Go ahead and place your bets, ladies and gentleman, because it’s about to get crazy as we head into Sin City this weekend!