Kurt Busch – If you’re a gambling man there’s probably not a riskier fantasy prospect than Kurt Busch at Las Vegas. He doesn’t run bad here, unfortunate circumstances just seem to happen to him all to frequently. Busch’s average finish at Las Vegas is 21.75, that ranks as his worst of any track. Last year Busch was having a solid race but had electrical problems that led to his 30th place finish. With 66 laps to go when he was in 14th he made a long pit stop that dropped him four laps down. He had electrical issues for much of the race so he might’ve had top ten potential if his race would’ve been incident free. In 2016 Busch had a great car. He started on the pole, led 32 laps and finished 9th. It should be noted in the race he had a big set back. At the time of the competition caution around lap 30 he was the leader but got busted speeding on pit road. In 2015 he missed the race due to suspension. In the 8 races prior to that he had one top ten and his other seven results were 20th or worse. At Atlanta Busch was very competitive. He finished 8th, had a 4.8 average running position and led 52 laps.
Jimmie Johnson – Las Vegas has been a great track for Jimmie Johnson, but his slump is really concerning. It should definitely give him some out of sync potential for those willing to roll the dice. The good times will resume at some point, and I think there’s a great chance Las Vegas might be the place. At Las Vegas Johnson is a four-time winner who’s finished in the top five 38% percent of the time and in the top eleven 68% percent of the time. Since 2012 minus 2015 when he had problems he has a 5.6 average finish, a 5.6 average running position and has finished in the top 11 every race. In 5 of these 6 races he’s led +34 laps or more. Last year at Las Vegas he ran well. He finished 11th, but he was slightly better than his result. Chad Knaus not adapting to the Stage rules hurt him. Additionally Johnson finished 7th in Stage #1, 10th in Stage #2 and earned the 8th best driver rating. Johnson led 19 laps but those were thru pit strategy which ultimately hurt him. In 2016 Johnson had a great car and was a serious threat to win. He led the most laps (76), earned the 2nd best driver rating, finished 3rd and had a 3rd place average running position. If it wasn’t for late pit strategy he was likely poised to be the winner. In 2015 Johnson had a fast car but finished 41st after having a flat tire. In that race he led 45 laps and if he didn’t have problems he was going to be one of the drivers to beat. In the three races prior to that he had results of 6th, 6th and 2nd.
Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez should be a solid performer at Las Vegas. Last year at 1.5 mile tracks when his team was clicking he was really good at these venues. Now that he’s a veteran I’m expecting a lot out of him. At Las Vegas I fully expect him to be a low double digits driver who’ll compete for a top ten. Last year at Las Vegas he didn’t have a very strong performance. It was early in the season so I don’t think it has much relevance for Sunday’s race. Last year when the checkered flag waved he finished 20th and had a 22nd place average running position. At Atlanta Suarez ran well. He finished 15th, but don’t overlook his 9.7 average running position.