The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada this week for the Kobalt Tools 400.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is considered a “Cookie Cutter” race track, but it is much different than other 1.5-mile tracks. It is a fast and very aero-sensitive race track. Having a loose race car is a common problem at Las Vegas. This makes passing very difficult so track position will be at a premium this week.
The key to winning this race will be to have a car that has balance through turn four. Most of the wrecks in the race involve cars trying to carry too much speed through the tricky turn. Teams will push the limits to have a car that is fast through this turn, but teams who go over the limit will find their car in the garage.
Keep in mind the teams who had success last week at Atlanta will be the favorites Sunday. Although the race tracks are nothing alike, teams that figured out the new down-force and aero-packages last week will be the teams which will be fast Sunday.
Here are my picks for the Kolbalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas…
Yahoo Group A Picks
The drivers in Group A of the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game are placed into this group because they have had a lot of success at the 1.5-mile race tracks. It is impossible to be considered an elite driver in the Sprint Cup Series without being able to navigate the race tracks which make up a majority of the race schedule.
Team Penske will be the team to watch this week. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano started on the front row last year with Keselowski finding his way to Victory Lane. Logano is off to a great start this season and there is no reason why he should cool off in the desert. Both drivers would be excellent selections for your team.
My sleeper pick for Group A this week is Dale Earnhardt Jr. He had this race won last year. Earnhardt started 14th and led 51 laps before running out of gas on the last lap. Earnhardt is off to a good start this season with two top-five finishes. He may not qualify up front, but he will be one of the drivers competing for the win at the end of the race.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A…
Another name for Las Vegas Motor Speedway could be Jimmie’s Playground. Johnson four wins in his 13 career starts in Sin City. He will have momentum after winning the race last week. The No. 48 team is back and fantasy NASCAR players must consider Johnson a favorite at each race track.
I had a hard time selecting the last driver for Group A. The Team Penske drivers would have been great for qualifying points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are almost locks for a top-10 finish. I went with Harvick, although his stats here are not great. Harvick was running down Kyle Busch for the lead last year when he had rotor problems. He is too hot to ignore right now.
Other good choices: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth
Yahoo Group B Picks
I learned three things from last week’s race at Atlanta about Group B… 1. Carl Edwards will be the best driver in this group so fantasy teams need to use their allocations wisely with the No. 19 team. 2. It is sad to say, but Tony Stewart looks like he should be retiring at the end of the season. 3. There are many sleepers in this group including Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger and Casey Mears.
My sleeper pick this week is Brain Vickers. Some teams may forget about him since this is his first race back in the car. Last week Brett Moffitt finished eighth in the no. 55 car. Vickers should be able to run up front this week too.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B…
Las Vegas is Edwards’s third-best race track. He has two wins and six top-10 finishes in his 10 career starts at the race track. Edwards has a streak of four consecutive top-five finishes at Las Vegas. These stats are with Edwards driving for Roush Fenway Racing. He should be one of the favorite to win in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs racing Ford.
It is hard to trust Kahn on your fantasy team. Last week he looked like a lock for a top-10 finish, but barely finished in the top 15. His stats at Las Vegas are good, so it may be wise to give him another chance. Kahne finished the last two races at Las Vegas in the top 10. Hendrick Motorsports looks like the team to beat, so Kahne should have a fast car Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr.
If there is one thing I learned the first two weeks of these season it is that the No. 78 car looks like the car Kurt Busch drove two years ago. Truex is off to a great start this season. He finished second in the Sprint Unlimited, fifth in the Budweiser Dual, eighth in the Daytona 500 and sixth at Atlanta. If you need some luck in Las Vegas, grab Truex for your team.
Las Vegas is Menard’s second-best race track. He has a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a third-place finish in last year’s race. Menard always runs well on the 1.5-mile race tracks early in the season. This is the time to use Menard for your team.
Other good choices: Brian Vickers,Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray
Yahoo Group C Picks
Selecting a driver for Group C is not as difficult as it looked on paper entering the season. Danica Patrick has shown improvement this season. David Ragan and Regan Smith are providing teams an option while the Busch brothers are out of their cars. Some unknown drivers (Brett Moffitt and Matt Crafton) have came out of nowhere provided some help for fantasy teams.
My sleeper pick for Group C this week is Ryan Blaney. He will be driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. The team has an alliance with Team Penske and he should be able to learn a lot from Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski this week.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C…
Ragan has not had much success at Las Vegas. When he drove for Roush Fenway Racing he finished most of his races in the top 25. Ragan did have a seventh-place finish at the race track in 2008. Last week was his first race with the No. 18 team and he finished 18th. Ragan should be able to learn from last week’s race and finish in the top 20 this week.
Smith has not been great while filling in for Kurt Busch, but he has not been too bad either. Smith has two consecutive top-20 finishes this season and there is no reason to believe he cannot finish in the top-20 again this week. It will be important to use Smith to save allocations for other drivers later in the season.
Other Good Choices: Danica Patrick, Ryan Blaney and Justin Allgaier
Fantasy Live Picks
One of the biggest misconceptions for Fantasy Live is that fantasy teams must select drivers who start in the back of the field. Fantasy teams get too caught up in where a driver starts the race and overlook the best drivers for the race. Track position is so important at Las Vegas that it will be important to select the best drivers in the field, regardless of where they begin the race.
Last season three drivers led over 50 laps at Las Vegas. Each of these drivers scored at least 25 bonus points for their fantasy teams. If a driver qualifies up front and has a dominant car in the Saturday practice there is a good chance the driver will lead many laps in the race Sunday. These drivers must be on your team at Las Vegas.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Las Vegas:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $27.50
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $27.00
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $22.50
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $17.00
Driver 5: Regan Smith $5.00
Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
* Driver prices based on prices at Atlanta
Fox Fantasy Racing
Fantasy teams will have a tough decision to make for Fox Fantasy Racing this week. This games awards fantasy teams for finding the drivers who start in the back and finish up front. The problem is there usually are not many drivers who can make their way through the field at Las Vegas.
As we saw at Atlanta, anything can happen during qualifying. If for some reason the best drivers have difficulties in qualifying and start in the back of the field it will be important to select the driver for your team. My picks this week are based upon recent success at Las Vegas and drivers with an opportunity to win the race.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Las Vegas:
Driver 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $12,900
Driver 2: Jimmie Johnson $10,500
Driver 3: Brad Keselowski $11,500
Driver 4: Carl Edwards $9,400
Driver 5: Regan Smith $5,200
* Driver prices based on prices at Atlanta