Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 Las Vegas Kobalt 400 Practice Notes: Johnson tops Driver Ratings

Martin truex Jr. could be a nice play in match-ups in Kobalt 400 Sunday
Jimmie Johnson's drive for five Sprint Cup wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looks like a solid venture, as he was fastest during both of Saturday's practice sessions in preparation for Sunday's Kobalt 400. Johnson has finished sixth or better in eight of his 13 Las Vegas starts and looks like a good bet to do so again. His OVER-UNDER finishing position posted at the Las Vegas sports books is 6.5, and his odds to win are 6-to-1 and dropping.

There wasn't anything that stood out in either practice that we didn't anticipate throughout the week in our multiple reports regarding race odds and props offered throughout the city. Much of our analysis was based on information from last week’s race in Atlanta – a sister track of Las Vegas, since both are 1.5-mile layouts. Everything we saw last week is in place for a replay on Sunday: the Hendrick cars should be strong, followed by Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable is on the next tier.

MORE: Driver-by-driver breakdown | Las Vegas race props

While the new rules package this year mandates less horsepower and downforce, the cream has risen to the top and a legitimate case to win can be made for only about 12 drivers. Favorites usually win at Las Vegas – the highest payout ever has been 18-to-1 odds. Every other driver who won paid 12-to-1 or less, and the majority has taken the checkered flag at single-digit odds. Sunday's race will likely be no different.

While Johnson looks to be the driver to beat, the same could be said last season at Las Vegas, when he looked just as good and finished sixth. Brad Keselowski won that race on the last lap after Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel as the leader. Keselowski doesn't look as strong this time around, but Junior will be a major factor and has a great shot to win his first Vegas race.

The driver we can't help but root for is Jeff Gordon, but it's more about sentiment than performance during Saturday’s practices. Gordon, who is retiring at season’s end, helped start the revolution of betting on NASCAR races weekly in Las Vegas.

Since he’s wrecked in the first two races of the year, we haven't been able to see what Gordon’s got in the late stages. It’s not a bad guess that he'll be just as good as Hendrick teammates Johnson and Junior were late in the Atlanta race last week. Johnson won and Junior was third. But Gordon will have to start in the back of the pack since he’ll be in a back-up car after being wrecked by Danica Patrick in practice on Saturday.

Read More Here......Here are odds and our final driver ratings for Sunday’s Kobalt 400.

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