Las Vegas, Nevada is about entertainment. From the Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to the Downtown Strip, glitz and glamor rules. And it doesn’t hurt matters that the progressive banking on this 1.5-mile course provides some of the most competitive racing on the schedule.
Las Vegas joined the NASCAR schedule in 1998 when the current trend was to build 1.5-mile courses. Some of these comparative tracks, (Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway), have fallen out for the moment to make room for road courses, so it’s a testament to the fans’ loyalty that Vegas has stuck around.
Beginning with 2018, Vegas has hosted two races per season. The fall event has been in the playoffs since that happened and this race has always kicked off one of the rounds. In 2018 and 2019 it launched Round 1; in 2020 and 2021 it was the first race of Round 2.
Las Vegas is prone to streaks and that makes the spring race incredibly important. In three of the four seasons when this track hosted a pair of events, five or more drivers swept the top 10. In 2018, seven drivers doubled down. Last year six slots where filled by repeat performers, including three drivers who swept the top five.
Last year Kyle Busch finished third in both events, Ryan Blaney finished fifth twice, while Denny Hamlin followed up a third-place finish in fall 2020 and a fourth in spring 2021 with a victory in the South Point 400 that helped advance him through the playoffs.
The spring 2021 race was also important for Kyle Larson. He had not yet tipped his hand when the Pennzoil 400 rolled around and as a result was listed with relatively long odds of +900 on the PointsBet Sportsbook. In fact, the traders were not quite sure what to do with that race and the top five finishers all had odds of 9/1 or greater.
It was the beginning of a mostly disappointing season for Kevin Harvick. He was the Pennzoil 400 favorite, opening at +650 and closing a +600, but he snapped a four-race, top-10 streak that weekend by finishing 20th.
A couple of longshots with solid runs at Vegas last year were Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. In the spring, Bell was saddled with odds of +3500 for the outright win; he finished seventh. Reddick posted at +6000 in the fall before finishing sixth.
March 6, Pennzoil 400
October 16, South Point 400 (Round of 8, Race 1)
9: Kyle Busch
8: Brad Keselowski
7: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr.
6: Joey Logano
5: Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin
4: Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson
3: Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch
2: Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto
1: Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Kyle Larson: 4 top-10s, 11 lead lap finishes
Denny Hamlin: 3 top-fives, 6 lead lap finishes
Kyle Busch: 3 top-10s, 2 top-threes, 4 lead lap finishes
Ryan Blaney: 3 top-10s, 2 top-fives, 5 lead lap finishes
Martin Truex, Jr.: 3 top-10s, 16 lead lap finishes
Brad Keselowski: 2 top-10s, 13 lead lap finishes
Joey Logano: 14 lead lap finishes
Chase Elliott: 3 lead lap finishes
March 7, Pennzoil 400:
1. Kyle Larson (+900), 2. Brad Keselowski (+900), 3. Kyle Busch (+1400), 4. Denny Hamlin (+900), 5. Ryan Blaney (+1300)
1. Denny Hamlin (+750), 2. Chase Elliott (+850), 3. Kyle Busch (+675), 4. Martin Truex, Jr. (+850), 5. Ryan Blaney (+1500)
Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks: Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charlotte oval, Texas, Kansas, Homestead, Chicagoland, and Kentucky.
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