|Johnson and Kahne both had solid practices Saturday|
After a day of rain on Friday that cancelled practice and qualifying, the 43 drivers were treated to beautiful Saturday morning and were able to complete both Saturday practice sessions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in their final preparation for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400. The lost day was not too big of a deal because most teams would have just been practicing in qualifying trim -- data acquired that doesn’t offer much into the final betting equation.
We got a head start on that equation Thursday with a full day of testing where Kevin Harvick impressed the most. Harvick continued his great performance on long runs and finished with the second-best 10-consecutive lap average in the first session, behind Kyle Busch.
The top speed in the first session went to Kasey Kahne with a lap at 188.134 mph. Kahne also had the fastest 5-consecutive lap average, but wasn’t one of the eight drivers who ran 10-consecutive laps, nor was he one of 20 drivers to attempt that many during happy hour. Being fast in practice has become a common theme for Kahne, but it hasn’t always translated over into race day for whatever reason. Mark Martin kind of falls into that category as well.
Overall, Kyle Busch might have the best car based on Saturday‘s practices, but because of his tendency to find trouble more than other top drivers and recent Joe Gibbs engine troubles, he becomes less attractive at the betting window.
Drivers who should be considered the most attractive Sunday are Carl Edwards and Harvick. Edwards was fifth fastest in the early session and second fastest during happy hour. The confidence factor with Edwards and his team is a big deal. They feel good about the things they’re learning on the new Gen-6 car and come off a Phoenix win last week. This is also a track Edwards loves. He’s a two-time winner in Vegas and comes from a stable of Roush drivers that have claimed seven of the 15 Las Vegas wins. When you add to his Vegas resume that his car is actually fast, he becomes a tough driver to bet against.
But what might separate Harvick a little from Edwards is the long runs and not losing as much speed later on older tires. We should expect to see long green flag runs on Sunday and the driver who gets the most out of their car in the later half of those fuel windows figures to have an advantage.
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