Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube Picks & Predictions

by | Last updated Feb 28, 2024 | nascar

Race: Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
Date: Sunday March 3, 2024
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Time: 3:30pm ET
Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

Talk about a photo finish! If there ever was a close finish, this was one for the record books. Daniel Suarez took the win over Ryan Blaney by a mere 0.003 seconds. Kyle Busch came in 3rd place just 0.007 seconds behind Suarez. That is crazy. There were only 5 laps remaining on the restart and if I had to guess, Blaney probably thought he had it in the bag, but his move to the bottom lane cost him just enough to cost him the victory. Blaney also realized fault with letting both lanes get runs on him in turns one and two, but it’s really hard to calculate exactly what to do to prevent both lanes from beating you without wrecking the entire field. Kyle Busch played like he knew what the outcome was going to be, but hindsight is always 20-20. He can say what he wants, but it’s never that predictable.

What we saw throughout literally the entire race was so much carnage. Even after completing just the first lap of the race, Todd Gilliland checked up nearly the entire front of the field causing 14 cars to wreck, a track record. That’s something Gilliland shouldn’t be too proud of. The likes of Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, and Christopher Bell were all involved with heavy damage extremely early in the race. For Noah Gragson, well, it was 2 races in a row that he just couldn’t muster a decent finish. The bigger question still remains of whether Atlanta is all it’s hyped up to be. Quite frankly, great finish, terrible race. I’m sorry. You can’t destroy half the field within one lap and think that’s great. It’s just not. I don’t care how many lead changes you have. You can have 90 billion lead changes within 2 laps on a superspeedway. That doesn’t make it great racing. And having 2 superspeedway style races back to back is also a questionable choice by NASCAR. I’m not sure what prompted that other than maybe trying to make it easier on the haulers, but I don’t agree with that call either.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend:

All I’ll say is I’m glad we’re going to an intermediate track this weekend. I never really thought I’d say that. I’m not really a fan of these cars. I’m not really a fan of intermediate tracks. But I’m a fan of these cars on intermediate tracks. They do well on them. We see pretty good racing on the mile and a half tracks. We don’t see half the field wreck out and destroy the best cars within 2 laps. The drivers actually have a chance to make it to the finish and have a good race. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is going to give us some quality racing if I had to guess. Honestly, I think that Daytona gave us better racing than Atlanta did. It was like Atlanta sucked the cars up and threw them against each other and spun them out. Joey Logano just went into Chris Buescher with no warning and then there goes Denny Hamlin. I’m not going to say I hated it, but it was pretty wild. I’d like to see everyone have a fairer shot at getting to the finish line. Maybe we’ll see that this weekend. Las Vegas is a 1.5-mile asphalt tri-oval with 20 degrees of banking in the turns and 9 degrees on the front and backstretches. The speeds still get pretty high around this track because of the banking. That’s the beauty of Vegas. There’s little to no banking, momentum into the turns, and throttle out of them.

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Odds And Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner, the last few years give us a pretty good picture of some of the best guys to pick. Our regulars of William Byron and Kyle Larson are no surprise. Those two drivers are going to be pretty hard to beat. In fact, Larson has two wins here and Byron has one himself. Teammate Alex Bowman also has a win, but his average finish is not nearly as good as his cohorts, sitting at nearly 18th place. Besting both Byron and Larson for best finish is Kyle Busch, with an average finish of 5th but no wins. Busch is coming on strong this year. I think he’s got something for us and this might just be his weekend. Coming off such a strong finish at Atlanta is nothing to sneeze at and really shows us what that team has done in the off season to give him such a successful start to the 2024 season. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into this weekend’s Vegas race with odds by Bovada:

  • Winner: Kyle Busch
  • Mid-Range Pick: Chris Buescher
  • Dark Horse: Josh Berry

Consistency is important Buescher has improved year over year. He was doing well last weekend before Logano put in the wall. Honestly, he had a very solid year last year. I anticipate him getting better this year. He’s done well on the intermediates, and I believe that he will improve this weekend at Vegas. Josh Berry is a guy with very little experience. He had one go of Vegas last year as a fill in driver for HMS. This guy did a phenomenal job for the organization. As the replacement for Kevin Harvick on the SHR team, I believe we are going to see some amazing growth out of this driver. I’m throwing some confidence into him as someone who can surprise us with some skill. Maybe he won’t get into victory lane this weekend, but I think we will see it at some point. They will all be chasing Kyle Busch this weekend. It’s going to be Busch’s year. He’s coming on strong in 2024. The points are starting to shape up into something a little more telling. Let’s see where everyone is standing after the race at Atlanta:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. William Byron
  3. Austin Cindric
  4. Bubba Wallace
  5. Ryan Blaney
  6. Chase Elliott
  7. Daniel Suarez
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Alex Bowman
  10. Martin Truex Jr.
  11. Kyle Larson
  12. Corey Lajoie
  13. John H. Nemechek
  14. Ty Gibbs
  15. Chris Buescher
  16. Christopher Bell

As you can see, there are some unusual names still within that top 16. Are they actually unusual, though? Do we anticipate seeing some of these guys stay in the top 16 this year? Who would’ve thought we’d see Buescher stay last year? Or Wallace hang out as long as he did? The times are changing! I think that there will be a shift this year too where a few of these guys are going to stay a little bit longer. Las Vegas will normalize the standings some more and we will see some big changes even next week. Stay tuned for some great racing as the drivers and teams head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend!