Matt Kenseth – In the last two Las Vegas races Kenseth finished 11th and 5th. Last year on intermediate tracks Matt Kenseth scored the second most points in the series. This is a Roush track so you need one of the blue ovals on your team this week. When you discount his 2009 engine detonation his average finish here since 2003 is 6.5. Also if your league rewards qualifying points take note of his pole last year. Matt Kenseth is my predicted winner.
Carl Edwards – Edwards is the defending champion and only him and Johnson have won multiple races at Las Vegas since the track reconfiguration. He didn’t have the best car last year but he did cross the finish line first and that’s what pays fantasy points. Last year on high speed intermediate tracks in the Chase Edwards finished 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 4th. The smart money will be betting on Edwards this week. Look for him to be the top pick of many fantasy NASCAR experts this week.
Jimmie Johnson – Would you want to bet against this guy at Las Vegas? I wouldn’t want to. Jimmie Johnson is a four time winner at Las Vegas and his most recent win was in 2010. In the last three Vegas races he has the third best average running position (13.7) and the fourth best driver rating. Johnson has only qualified in the top ten once in the last five races here.
Greg Biffle – Biffle had one of the fastest cars last year and his 28th place finish does not reflect how well he ran. It reflects the problem his crew had fueling his car. In his four other starts on the new Las Vegas surface he’s finished 10th, 7th, 3rd, and 16th. In terms of loop data since 2008 Greg Biffle has the 3rd best driver rating (110.4) and the 3rd best average running position (9.5) In 2011 Greg Biffle qualified 4th at Las Vegas.
Denny Hamlin – In six starts at Las Vegas Denny Hamlin has four top ten finishes. In last years race he started 6th but had a 16th place average running position. Since the track was reconfigured Hamlin has a 12th place average finish. In Fantasy NASCAR it’s important to pick drivers with momentum and on one has more then Denny Hamlin. In the last four races dating back to the 2011 Phoenix race no driver has scored more points then Denny Hamlin (39 points per race).
Kevin Harvick – Since 2007 only Carl Edwards has a better average finish then Harvick (8.8) at Vegas. One aspect that stands out about Harvick here is how dismal he qualifies. In the last seven Las Vegas races he’s only qualified in the top fifteen once. It’s nothing to worry about though because he knows how to drive up through the pack. Harvick is one of only a handful of drivers who have multiple top five finishes on the new track surface.
Kyle Busch – Does Kyle Busch have a home field advantage at Las Vegas? He certainly does when it comes to qualifying. In the last four years he has two poles and two fifth place starts. Last year at Las Vegas Kyle Busch’s motor blew up and he finished 38th. Now that Joe Gibbs Racing is using TRD engines this should be a non issue for fantasy racers. His 2005 through 2010 Las Vegas average finish is 5.2.
Jeff Gordon – When Gordon doesn’t have problems at Las Vegas he’s as good as anyone at Sin City. When he’s had problems though they’ve been pretty catastrophic (video). In his two most recent Vegas races when he didn’t have problems he finished 3rd and 6th. In the last four Vegas races he has the second best driver rating (110.6) and the second best average running position (7.8).
Tony Stewart – The 2011 champion had the best car at Las Vegas last year but he didn’t emerge victorious. He led 163 laps but a mid race pit penalty and Carl Edwards taking two tires on the last pit stop were his undoing. His driver rating was a close second to Carl Edwards (134.4 vs 133.4). If you deduct Edwards loop data bonus points for winning then it’s pretty clear just how good Stewart was.
Check out the full spectrum of my Las Vegas Fantasy Rankings
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