Race: Kobalt 400 Preview and Predictions to Win
Date: Sunday March 12, 2017
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Time: 3:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Well, if anyone has figured out how to give a race away, Kevin Harvick is the man! He absolutely dominated the race this past weekend at Atlanta. In fact, he won both segments and was geared to take the win relatively easily. Perhaps the only real contender he had was Brad Keselowski, and that was after Keselowski battled his way back into the top 5 from the back of the pack. He managed to pick away spot after spot, but I still dont think that he wouldve been able to take it away from Harvick if Harvick had remained in the lead. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Harvick, who is known for pit road penalties as a direct result of his crew, managed to score his own pit road speeding penalty very late in the race. This cost him the win in what wouldve been an seriously easy checkered flag to grab for this team. Instead, Keselowski stole it due to Harvicks error. But, hey, I guess thats part of racing! Drivers never cease to amaze in how they are still human and can dominate so easily just to lose the main event.
Regardless, the drivers and points are still quite jumbled in my opinion, but I think that they make a touch more sense after Atlanta. With the placings from the segments along with the points from the finishing positions, the points look a little more logical than after Daytona. In all honesty, everything looks more logical after Daytona anyway! This weekend will show much more of an average, obviously, of how this new points system will work. We are heading into what NASCAR has coined our west coast swing. The schedule has been tweaked to make a little more sense for the drivers and their crews in terms of travel. There was a lot of bouncing back and forth from one coast to the other in years past. Now, we are focusing on one or the other, making the schedule a little more bearable for everyone.
This weekend brings us to our first stop of the west coast swing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This track is pretty awesome. Ive never been to a live race here, but Ive had the privilege of doing the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Let me tell you what, this track is awesome. Ive enjoyed the racing as a fan from tv coverage, but to be able to drive the track and really feel what the drivers feel to a certain extent is absolutely awesome. It definitely gives you much more of an appreciation for what athletes they really are. Eight laps really turned my legs into Jello, and Im a pretty fit and active person! Las Vegas Motor Speedway is an asphalt 1.5 mile tri-oval. It has variable 12 to 20 degree banking in the turns and really carries some speed because of that banking. While we saw tires play a large role at Atlanta, I think that track position is going to be a little more important here at Vegas. This track doesnt seem to demand tires like some of the other intermediate tracks, and Goodyear has also been doing a darn good job of giving consistent tires to these teams.
Ultimately, the drivers that performed well at Atlanta should perform well at Las Vegasthat is, according to most other handicappers. The interesting thing to me is that this track, while an intermediate track, drives much differently than Atlanta. As aforementioned, tires arent as necessary here as they are at Atlanta. We also tend to see some fuel strategy at Vegas,
although the segments are changing that around a bit. Finally, the surface of Atlanta is old and worn. It is not nearly the same as Las Vegas. Regardless, I do believe that we will see domination from Kevin Harvick and both Penske drivers. Harvick won here in 2015 and really knows how to get around this place. Being that he threw away his win at Atlanta, I believe that we will see some determination from this driver and team, bringing him to the front of the pack and the checkered flag.
My Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Ryan Newman. Bet YOUR pick using your credit card and get a 50% bonus at MyBookie!
With 4 top five finishes in the last six races here, Newman and RCR are for sure looking for a much needed win and pick-me-up. Prior to battery problems last weekend, Newman showed impressive moves and strength throughout his race. He will likely continue to be a force this weekend. Chase Elliott has proven that he is someone to watch. He consistently improved last year through much of the year, really showing his abilities on the intermediate platforms. This year, he has come out with the same tenacity. Look for Elliott to be a contender in the closing laps. There are other potential contenders. Jimmie Johnson, for example, leads the field with the most wins, but his performance thus far into this short season leaves much to be desired. He will likely be able to rebound some, but Im not sure if a win is in the cards yet. Lets see the way that points worked out after Atlanta.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kurt Busch
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Chase Elliott
5. Joey Logano
6. Kyle Larson
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Trevor Bayne
11. AJ Allmendinger
12. Jamie McMurray
13. Aric Almirola
14. Clint Bowyer
15. Paul Menard
16. Matt Kenseth
Kyle Larson tried to sneak a win at Atlanta. Hes another one to really watch. Its taken him a little more time, but hes really starting to come into his own and show some confidence. Overall, weve got a nice crop of young drivers to keep our eyes on and who really are proving themselves against these veterans. Im waiting to see if these segments really show us any more excitement than normal because last week was nothing really stellar in terms of great racing due to the new format. If nothing else, we should really see how this points system is playing out a
little better after Vegas. Stay tuned for a great afternoon of racing as we head to Las Vegas for the Kobalt 400! For another 50% bonus and to bet on NASCAR races at a betting site where your credit card WILL work for deposits, sign up at Bovada Sportsbook!