Friday, March 7, 2014

Harvick wows in Las Vegas testing Thursday; what does it mean?

Junior had the 19th fastest lap during testing Thursday
LAS VEGAS -- We all know that Rick Hendrick is heavily involved with Stewart-Haas Racing, but come on? After seeing Kevin Harvick make a mockery of the field last week at Phoenix, he comes right back in Thursday's afternoon testing at Las Vegas and cruises to the top speed of the day -- the only driver to top 190 mph. Engines are one thing, but Harvick’s cars so far look exactly like Johnson cars of the past just because they’re riding on rails right now.

There were 48 drivers that participated in the test session on Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile high-banked layout, which will not only benefit them for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400, but also for the remaining 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

It’s hard to know what to make of the testing times just because there were some unusual speeds at the top, such as Austin Dillon (second fastest), Trevor Bayne (third), Danica Patrick (fifth) and Cole Whitt (sixth). Who knows what each team’s agenda was? Some of the top times may have been an optimum set-up for qualifying, and some may have been exclusively in race trim looking for long run results.

Only nine drivers ran 10 consecutive laps or more. The Richard Childress Racing No. 27 had the best average, and right behind him was Harvick, which is another sign that the SHR No. 4 is going to be strong.

If you're in Vegas for the race, make sure to get a Harvick Championship ticket at 8-to-1 while in Las Vegas. It’s only March, but the value is super strong at that price. He should probably be no higher than 4-to-1 based on what we have seen so far from Phoenix to testing at Vegas, and we know he‘ll be good on the wild cards at Daytona, Talladega, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

Joey Logano clocked in the most laps (113) of the test session and had the 14th fastest single lap. Kyle Larson ran the second-most laps (99), but he could only find the 24th fastest speed, which is in stark contrast to what we saw last week at Phoenix where he was dynamite when racing by himself in practice.

Four-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson had the 18th-fastest lap, which he got on the 34th of his 42 laps run. Johnson didn't pick up any steam on the 1.5-mile tracks last season until finally winning on one at Texas in November. On Sunday, he'll be using his sixth-place Kansas chassis from October.

Knowing that there were plenty of different strategies among the drivers and crew chiefs, I’ll file this four-hour session away for the next few races at Fontana, Texas and Kansas, and then reassess things after every final pair of practices. Saturday’s Vegas practices will still be the most crucial ingredient to finding the best car to win Sunday. Also of note is that most teams will not be using the same chassis or engine from Thursday’s test.

Based on what we've seen so far, chances are Harvick will be fast again. Based on what the odds were Monday, everything should be shaded at least 25 cents higher on matchups or props that involve the No. 4 Chevrolet of Harvick. All lines were based on what Harvick might do in testing. Now that we know, adjustments have to be made.

Read More Here....LVH Odds and props

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