Pennzoil Oil 400 Picks & Predictions

Feb 27, 2019 | nascar

Race: Pennzoil Oil 400
Date: Sunday March 3, 2019
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Time: 3:30pm ET
TV: FOX
By Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

What We Learned From Last Week

What a finish at Atlanta! Brad Keselowski took the win over Martin Truex Jr., who was a bit of a poor sport. In his disappointment with a second place finish, Truex claimed lap cars are what held him back and that he was the class of the field. I’m still trying to figure out how that’s the case with someone who didn’t really lead anything all day. Whatever the case may be, Keselowski drove past the #17 leaving Truex behind to sulk with a runner-up finish.

Overall, with the exception of the restarts, I’m not overly impressed with the new aero package that the drivers ran. The idea was to create better racing, more downforce, and to hold the pack together, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Drivers seemed to lineup and not pass until necessary. It seemed like the most exciting part of the race was pit road, being that Atlanta typically has smaller pit boxes. There were a lot of challenges with drivers getting into and out of their boxes without incident. There were also a slew of speeding penalties.

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Where Are We Headed This Week?

This weekend, the drivers are headed to Las Vegas, another intermediate track but configured differently than Atlanta. I’ve had the pleasure of driving on that track, and let me tell you it’s quite a thrill. The banking really lends itself to some serious speed out of the corners, but as we saw with Atlanta, it’s a whole different ball game with the aero package. Clint Bowyer mentioned while practicing at Atlanta that he had to actually adjust to holding his car at full throttle. Generally, at these types of tracks, drivers still have to use plenty of brake heading into the turns to whoa up but with the introduction of lesser speeds, this is not the case. The drivers are using less and less brake, which I do not find very technically difficult. As per NASCAR in the last few years, it appears the organization is trying to take away from the character of stock car racing. Drivers are supposed to be able to utilize brake and throttle control in their cars. The tracks are configured in such a manner that play into this theory, thus variable banking across the entire range of tracks. That being said, we will see if there is any difference this weekend at Vegas. This track is a true 1.5-mile asphalt tri-oval. It is referred to as a superspeedway by some because of its tri-oval configuration and variable 12-20 degree banking through the turns that offer a tremendous amount of speed and also lends itself to the necessity of aerodynamic considerations.

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Potential Winners and Odds Heading To Las Vegas

When we think about our potential winners here this weekend, we most certainly will feed off the winner and running order from last weekend to see the comfort level of the drivers with the new package. Additionally, past history here lends itself to a repeat pick. Looking at the facts, we have Keselowski who is coming off a win from Atlanta and also a guy who has won 3 of his last 6 races here. We then have Kevin Harvick who came in fourth last weekend at Atlanta but is the defending champ of this race at Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Las Vegas. Bovada Sportsbook offered these odds at time of publish.

  • My Pick to Win: Brad Keselowski (7-1)
  • Middle of the Road Pick: Kyle Larson (8-1)
  • Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones (20-1)

Last year, Jones finished 8th at Vegas. He’s coming into this weekend with a 7th place finish at Atlanta and seems to only be getting better. Although his odds aren’t outrageous enough to win you a *ton* of money, he will still get you a solid payout if he wins. And I don’t think that’s too far fetched from what I’ve seen from this kid. Kyle Larson is still a young gun in his experience at this track. He’s finished 2nd at Vegas twice, and he also led 142 laps at Atlanta. He’s got some momentum coming into Vegas. I think that they will all be chasing Keselowski, though. With 7-1 odds, he’s not the best on the books, but his history at this track along with a win at Atlanta make him the front-runner for me. Kevin Harvick has better odds at the win at 5-1, but I still think that Keselowksi and Penske power have the edge.

Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:

1. Denny Hamlin 20-1

2. Kevin Harvick 5-1

3. Kyle Busch 11-2

4. Kyle Larson 8-1

5. Joey Logano 8-1

6. Brad Keselowski 7-1

7. Erik Jones 20-1

8. Kurt Busch 20-1

9. Clint Bowyer 16-1

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 40-1

11. Aric Almirola 20-1

12. Martin Truex Jr. 7-1

13. Alex Bowman 66-1

14. Ryan Blaney 14-1

15. Ryan Newman 20-1

16. Jimmie Johnson 25-1

Odds taken from Bovada Sportsbook.

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Some of those standings are looking a little out of place, but I think that we’re going to see a new “norm” as this pack of young drivers really takes off. Jones, Bowman, and Blaney (to name a few) are top notch and really giving the veterans a run for their money. Jimmie Johnson is still struggling so far. He may have won the clash, but barely clinging to the last place in the standings that really matters is not where I expected him to be so early on. Perhaps this will be a place for him to make up some ground. Johnson is the current driver with the most wins at Las Vegas, but he’s got to get his groove back if he expects to get competitive once again. We’ll have to wait and see if Johnson can give anyone something to fight for or if we will see a repeat of Atlanta! Who knows? Maybe we’ll see Kevin Harvick begin a dominating performance, as he’s the favorite heading into this weekend. Stay tuned for a great weekend of racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway!