Before Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, BetMGM examines three drivers who could be intriguing bets to make.
The following article is brought to you by BetMGM.
If you start up front for a NASCAR race, you‘ll finish well, right? Well, yes, sometimes.
When it comes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, qualifying well and starting up front is an indication of what‘s to come and also what the NASCAR odds may be. In fact, in the past 15 years of racing, the winner started from the top five nine times in 18 races. In the Xfinity Series, every race winner since 2009 has started in the top 10.
But as fans know, this year‘s qualifying order isn‘t being established by the fastest qualifying lap on a Friday or Saturday. It‘s based on a formula that takes into account previous race success, team owner rankings, etc. You can thank the COVID-19 pandemic for no qualifying.
Therefore, while starting upfront is certainly an advantage, it may not be indicative this year of who has the strongest car. That could make this race even more exciting as more powerful teams may be farther back than they‘d be if there were qualifying. That will be a dynamic to keep a close eye on this weekend.
So who could dominate? We take a look.
Martin Truex Jr. +600
Martin Truex Jr. will start fourth in the field using the new starting-grid formula, so he‘ll easily be within close range of going for the win. His history at Las Vegas is impressive, with two wins since 2017 and five top-five finishes.
While Truex is certainly a tough competitor on the track, his demeanor is a very consistent, calm type of driver. He doesn‘t pop off at a moment‘s notice, favoring the role of the silent assassin. Then, all of a sudden, he has crept up the stairs of the stage in Victory Lane.
That‘s what makes him such a threat at a calm and consistent track like Las Vegas. He‘s the perfect fit, and his results here prove it.
OTHERS: Truex may be the NASCAR betting odds favorite, but Brad Keselowski (+650) shouldn‘t be ignored. He has three wins in the past 10 Las Vegas races and also seven top-five finishes in his last 11 starts there. Also, Joey Logano (+650) has the best average finish in the past 15 races (8.4) and two wins.
THE DARK-HORSE THREAT
Ryan Blaney +1100
Ryan Blaney hasn‘t won here in nine NASCAR Cup Series career attempts, but Las Vegas is his best regular-season track if you go by average finish (9.7). He has six top-10 finishes and three top fives, and last season, he led the early-season race for 19 laps. He seems very comfortable on the 1.5-mile oval track, and his career shows the 1-to-2 mile tracks cater to his talents better than most others.
Blaney has gotten off to a bit of a bumpy start in 2021, crashing out of the Daytona 500 and taking 15th and 29th, respectively, the next two weekends at the Daytona Road Course and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He‘d like nothing more than to bounce back at one of his favorite tracks, so keep an eye on him.
OTHERS: There‘s no way you could write about Las Vegas without mentioning the Busch brothers, who were both born in the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” Kurt Busch (+2000) won the second Las Vegas race of 2020, and Kyle Busch (+1200) is usually pretty good on his home track. While Kyle qualified well (on the pole and second, respectively) for both Vegas races last year, he didn‘t finish in the top five in either. He does have one career win (in 2009).
THE INTRIGUING LONG SHOT
Chase Briscoe +3500
Chase Briscoe has won the past two Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas, and the rookie dominated the junior circuit last year, winning nine races. Overall, the first-year Cup Series driver took 52 top 10s in just 83 races.
The truth is, Briscoe has demonstrated a knack for being able to wheel around 1.5-mile tracks. Whether it has been in Las Vegas, Kansas, Texas or Kentucky, he tends to run well. While this track would seem to favor veterans, this is one Cup Series neophyte to keep an eye on.
OTHERS: Austin Dillon (+5000) has been around longer than Briscoe and also won Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races at Las Vegas. This weekend, he will be driving the BetMGM Chevrolet for his grandfather at Richard Childress Racing. Dillon has a solid history on 1.5-mile tracks, capturing eight of his top-series career wins on them.