After three straight weeks in Florida, NASCAR heads west for their annual west coast swing. Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. The race will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. It will be run over 267 laps, with stage lengths consisting of 80-80-107 laps. Joey Logano is a two-time defending winner of this race.
Thanks to a top-five finish last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s race from the pole. Alongside will be last week’s winner, William Byron. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell will round out the top five.
Watch Out for Team Penske on Sunday
Winner of the last two spring races at Las Vegas, Joey Logano has to be one of the favorites for Sunday. The driver of the 22 Penske Ford has experienced tons of success at Vegas over the years. Logano finished 14th in last fall’s race, which snapped a streak of nine straight top 10 finishes at the track. He led over 40 laps in seven of those nine races. Logano is looking to capture win number one in 2021 after nearly winning both Daytona races.
Similar to his teammate, Brad Keselowski had an impressive top 10 streak broken last fall. A 13th place finish ended a streak of 10 straight top 10 finishes at Vegas. Keselowski finished no worse than third in six of those races, which included three wins. A strong finish could be the start of another championship run for Keselowski.
While Ryan Blaney doesn’t have any wins at Las Vegas, he has been impressive. His average finish is second-best among active drivers, only trailing Logano. He has six top 10s in nine career starts. That doesn’t include the Spring race at the track last year, where Blaney was a late caution away from winning. He pitted from the lead and finished a disappointing 12th. Blaney is eager to earn redemption after that near miss.
Don’t Count Out a Pair of Past Champions
With all the attention the surprise winners are getting, Kevin Harvick is flying under the radar. The 2014 Cup Series champion leads the point standings and has finished fourth, sixth, and fifth in three races this season. While he hasn’t had race-winning speed, it’s only a matter of time before the “4” car gets back to victory lane. He has two career wins at Vegas, finished top 10 in eight of his last 11 races, and led over 45 laps in five of those races. The three races he didn’t finish top 10 were due to crashes and a mechanical failure.
Martin Truex Jr. has had race-winning speed the last two weeks but just hasn’t been able to finish the job. He should continue his streak of good finishes with a trip to Vegas. Truex Jr. has finished top five in six of his last nine races at the track, including two wins.
Final Thoughts for Vegas
Going into this Sunday’s race at Las Vegas, you would think one of the top contenders should get the win but 2021 just hasn’t been like that. Three races in and we’ve essentially had three surprise winners. So, while I expect one of the heavy hitters to win on Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or Austin Dillon content for the win.