It’s Vegas week! Going to this race is a wonderful way to lose a lot of money! That’s not to say you can’t do the same at many other tracks as well. Dover has gambling on site, Poconos have their nearby dog tracks and Darlington has their state troopers ready to write you a ticket! However, if you have been to Vegas, you understand the experience in this town is much different than anywhere else I have mentioned. I was lucky enough to get out to Vegas and do a ride along on the track. It was amazing. For around $100 bucks, you can ride at most tracks and if you haven’t done it, you need to. NASCAR holds a race every year at this track. The major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) unfortunately stay away from Las Vegas except for an exhibition event or awards banquet. It’s a shame there isn’t a major sports team out of this iconic city yet, but at least there a NASCAR presence.
Last Year: Carl Edwards won this event last March, as seen above. I expect he will be strong again. This track is very friendly to Fords, with 7 victories in 14 events, and I expect a Ford victory this weekend. Keep reading for my pick to win this weekend. I found it interesting that Tony Stewart finished 2nd to Carl Edwards last year at LVMS. Those guys couldn’t get away from each other last year. Also when glancing at last year’s results, I saw Marcos Ambrose had a strong finish in 4th. Jr had a top ten here last year so the nation should be optimistic for his chances.
EFI and Tony Stewart: Yep, Electronic Fuel Injection. It bit Tony last week as I mentioned in my Phoenix Recap. Stewart tried to cut his car off under caution and couldn’t get it started back up which cost him a much better finish, as he was running pretty good thus far. There has been some talk about EFI and what the boys are allowed to do. I’m gonna write some more on that soon, but just know that they can’t change anything during the race to the settings of Fuel Injection. They are going to get better at understanding this new technology (new to NASCAR) and we’ll see more issues I’m sure as well. Vegas could be somewhere this comes into play again as many 1.5 milers are apt to fuel mileage endings. As for Stewart, he’s had a good car in both races so far and you know he is ready to get back into Victory Lane before people start seriously questioning the removal of Darian Grubb atop the pit box.
Jimmie and Chad: NASCAR announced the appeal for the suspension will be heard next Tuesday (March 13th, 2012). This of course means that both Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec will be at Vegas to help Jimmie get back to victory lane. Jimmie had a beast of a car early at Phoenix and some wheel trouble on pit road hurt their chances. Jimmie is a 4-time Vegas Sprint Cup winner, the most of all drivers, so look for him to be a force as usual. We’ll talk more next week about the appeal and what the suspension, if it is upheld, will look like and how it could affect the Lowe’s/Kobalt boys.
Denny:The only Nike branded NASCAR driver must feel great after his victory at Phoenix leaves him on top of the points early in the season. Denny is no doubt reaping the benefits of having Darian Grubb in his corner. It is key for him to have another good race at Vegas this week to keep his confidence high. Denny has been prone to mind games getting the better of him and if the other drivers want to contain him, they should start pressing him a bit.
The Pick: I think this week is going to a guy who has knocked on the door the last couple weeks. He should have won at Daytona if he would have had the stones to gamble a bit and get out from behind his teammate, Matt Kenseth. Greg Biffle, and all of Roush, has been strong early in the year and this is why I think he will be your Vegas winner. Remember before when I said Fords have won 7 of 14 races here? All of those are victories by Roush Racing Fords. Side note: I’m not a fan of Biffle. I met him once in Daytona for a fan promotion and he was short with everyone and left quickly. Very rare for NASCAR drivers! However, he appears to be good at something… the clue is to the right in the picture.
NASCAR Dump: Marcos Ambrose is my dark horse this week. The guy is going to get a win on an oval and this is a good place to do it since it is Ford friendly. Look for Clint Bowyer to rebound after some bad luck at Phoenix with two cut tires and a Daytona wreck. He’s had a good car lately and the Toyota’s also run pretty good at Vegas with 3 top tens last year. Danica is racing this weekend. There is my obligatory mention.
Thanks for reading as always! Tweet me on Sunday during the race if you are watching @phileyoung. I’ll be back, of course, on Monday with my Las Vegas: Afterthoughts. Have a great weekend!