Thursday, September 24, 2020

NASCAR Las Vegas Betting Preview: 2020 South Point 400

Let the quarterfinals begin!

The opening round has been completed and four drivers have been chopped to start NASCAR’s Playoffs.

Now it’s off to the Round of 12 which begins Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile high banked tri-oval. It’s the third straight season the South Point 400 has been run in the fall as the second Cup Series date on the LVMS schedule.

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2020
TV-Time: NBCSN, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The first Vegas race this season was the second points-paying race on the schedule and was won by Joey Logano, his second win in the last three Vegas races.

Here’s a quick reboot of what happened on that day in late February. Logano only won because of a tire compound that didn’t wear as much. He didn’t pit with five laps to go as everyone else did upfront, including leader Ryan Blaney. Staying out with Logano was Matt DiBenedetto finishing second, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. third, Austin Dillon fourth, Jimmie Johnson fifth, and Bubba Wallace sixth.

Almost all of them had their tires hold up. The drivers who pitted underestimated the need for new tires. Logano, who pretended he didn’t hear his crew chief tell him to pit, couldn’t be passed.

The old tires stuck to the asphalt. And those same tires also produced back-to-back triple-digit payouts with Cole Custer (300/1) winning at Kentucky Speedway and Austin Dillon (100/1) winning the following week at Texas Motor Speedway.

The left-side Goodyear tires will be the same as the Vegas race from February, but the right sides will be a different code to give the drivers more grip.

"Key to making the optimum tire recommendation is the review of all the data that is generated, whether it be from practices throughout a weekend, testing, or as is the only opportunity right now, from the actual races," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.

"What we’ve seen and heard at several of the low-wear tracks, is the Cup cars could stand to have a little more grip, so we have made a step in that direction for Las Vegas, as well as Kansas and Texas. Vegas and Texas shared the same tire set-up at their earlier races, and we brought that same right-side to Kansas as well, so they have been basically aligned all season. They remain so with this new right-side as we enhance the grip level at all three."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Aric Almirola is 25/1 to win 2020 South Point at LVMS



Racing Toward a Career ‘HighPoint’


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 23, 2020) – Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, continued his career-best season last weekend when he secured his sixth top-five finish of 2020 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and advanced in the NASCAR Playoffs to the Round of 12 for the second time in his career. 


His six top-five finishes surpass his previous best of four in a season in 2018. In addition, his 288 laps led is a career-high for a season, and his 17 top-10 finishes tied his season-best. While a win in 2020 still has eluded the No. 10 Ford team, the goal for Almirola is to race for a championship – the ultimate high point of any Cup Series driver’s career.


“This year has been like no other,” Almirola said. “The chemistry of this team is unmatched and the results are showing it. To have the best year of my career with a brand new crew chief says a lot. The first time we visited Las Vegas (site of Sunday’s South Point 400) we were still working through our communication. It was the second race of the year with a new crew chief and driver combination and we’re coming back 28 races later with a solid championship-caliber team.”  


Almirola is not only optimistic due to the season stats he’s racked up, but applauds NASCAR for giving the drivers and fans a playoff schedule that crowns a champion utilizing all track configurations. 


“You can’t just be good at your short-track program or your 1.5-mile program or superspeedway program,” he said. “It all has to be good. I think that is really, when you crown a champion, what you want to identify. You want to crown somebody who has been successful at every different type of racetrack throughout the year. Incorporating that into the playoffs is awesome.”


Almirola has run toward the front of the field this year at every kind of track. At intermediate-style tracks like Las Vegas, Almirola has six top-10s. And when the series races next week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, it marks a return to Almirola’s first top-three of the season – a third-place drive in June where he crossed the finish line backward upon spinning while vying for the lead. That result tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., between April 2001 and October 2004. If that front-running consistency can be repeated, it should set Almirola up well for the next cutoff race Oct. 11 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval – where a solid points cushion can mitigate the adversity that seems omnipresent on the Roval’s tight and circuitous layout.


While Almirola and the team continue their journey to reach their career high point,, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, will sponsor Almirola’s No. 10 car at Las Vegas with a slick blue, black and white paint scheme for the first time this year.


It’s a proper partnership, as Almirola is one of the more tech-savvy drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series. Even before COVID-19 led to remote competition meetings via Microsoft Teams and countless media availabilities by way of Zoom, Almirola managed life via his phone and laptop.


“It’s amazing how much we rely on technology to help manage our lives,” he said. “You kind of take it for granted until you step back and realize the complexity of it all. And when it comes to what we do at Stewart-Haas Racing, the mechanical parts and pieces we use out on the racetrack don’t work as well if the IT isn’t there to support our efforts. Everything we do is engineering-based and measured in thousandths. Tape measures are long gone. It’s all about IT.”


Technology has played an increased role in 2020, with no practice or qualifying in advance of races during this COVID-19 era. Almirola and the No. 10 have embraced this brave new world and thrived, with a win being the next item on their to-do list. Las Vegas loves winners, so Almirola and the No. 10 team are in the right place. 

Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


How much confidence has your crew chief given you this year?  


“Mike (Bugarewicz) has been great to work with. He is a very passionate and intense crew chief and I enjoy that about him. He works really hard on the racecars and pays attention to all the details on the car and the simulation side of things. That is kind of where he came from. He had been an engineer for most of his career and then graduated to being a crew chief, and a good one at that. He has been a lot of fun to work with. He is certainly fiery and competitive and I appreciate that about him. He certainly expects the most out of me as the driver and he expects the most out of our team. All the guys rally around that and we do our best to make sure we give our best – and we do that anyway, but Mike expects that out of us.”


Looking at this round with Las Vegas, Talladega, and the Charlotte Roval, what are your feelings with some wild-card races in that group?


“I like it. I really enjoy the excitement that this schedule has put into our playoffs. Our playoffs are already intense and exciting and, from a fans perspective, I just think the way they have set this schedule for the playoffs is incredible. You go from the 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas, a downforce track, to Talladega, which is certainly exciting and a little bit of a wild card, and then to the Roval. It is three distinctly different racetracks. I think it is just really awesome for the fans. From the driver standpoint, I like it, too. It really sets up for that versatility and makes sure you have to be good everywhere.”

Denny Hamlin is 5/1 to win 2020 South Point 400 at Las Vegas

Denny Hamlin

#11 FedEx Office Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Race Info:
Race: South Point 400
Date/Time: Sunday, Sept. 27/7:00 p.m. ET
Distance: 267 laps/400.5 miles
Track Length: 1.5 mile
Track Shape: Tri-Oval
2019 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Express Notes:

Press Kit: Download the 2020 FedEx Racing press materials at, including bios for Denny Hamlin, Chris Gabehart and Joe Gibbs Racing leadership, program highlights and statistics.

Bristol Recap:
A hard run-in with a teammate ended Denny Hamlin’s shot at a win early in Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. But, despite a 21st-place finish, Hamlin advances to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 sitting second in points. Hamlin dropped to the rear of the field to start the race due to pre-race technical inspection issues. But he was able to climb into the top five by Lap 180 of the 500-lap event. While Hamlin was running in fifth, teammate Martin Truex Jr. slowed up and bounced off the wall directly in front of the No. 11, causing major damage to the hood of the FedEx Freight Toyota. The team was able to make repairs over multiple pit stops, and Hamlin was able to climb back into the top 15 despite driving a difficult-handling, wounded car. But an untimely caution in Stage 3 knocked him outside of the top 20 and multiple laps down. He eventually crossed the finish line in 21st as Kevin Harvick took the win.

Las Vegas Preview:
The Playoffs head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first race of the Round of 12 this Sunday night. Despite a tough outing last week at Bristol, Hamlin and the FedEx #11 team have their eye on the prize this weekend at the Diamond in the Desert. Hamlin has never won at Las Vegas but is hoping to change that as he’ll look to secure his spot in the Round of 8 early with a win this weekend.

Hamlin Statistics:

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Races: 17
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Top-5: 2
Top-10: 7
Laps Led: 18
Avg. Start: 16.0
Avg. Finish: 14.0

Hamlin Conversation – Las Vegas:

What do you need to do to score your first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway?

“It’s been a tough track for me in the past, but I enjoy the process of trying to get better at places where I haven’t necessarily run well. I’m confident our team will bring a fast FedEx Camry and put us in a good position to win and advance.”

How do you feel about your playoff performance this year?

“We didn’t have the best first round, but now our focus is all in on the Round of 12 and to work toward a championship. We’ve had fast cars, but there are still areas of improvement that we are working on.”

FedEx Office Along for the Ride at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
Thank you to all FedEx Office team members for rising to meet and overcome challenges on a daily basis.

How have Round of 12 Playoff contenders fared at Las Vegas?


  1. Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) leads the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,067 points – 62 points above the Round of 8 cutline. Harvick’s 2020 Playoffs have been off to a strong start winning two of the first three races (Darlington and Bristol) of the postseason and making the Round of 12 for the seventh time in his career (2014-2020). He now has a total of 16 career Playoff wins on his resume. Harvick turns his attention to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, the first race of the Round of 12. The Californian, Harvick, has made 22 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting two wins, seven top fives and 11 top 10s.


  1. Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) sits in second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,048 points – 43 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. Hamlin’s Round 16 performance didn’t quite have the same swagger he ended the regular season with, only posting two top-15 finishes, but he managed to make the Round of 12 for the sixth time in his career (2014-2017, 2019, 2020). The Virginia native, Hamlin, is looking to bounce back this weekend at Las Vegas; a track he has made 17 starts putting up two top fives and seven top 10s. 


  1. Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) holds on to third in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings with 3,035 points – 30 points up on the Round of 8 cutoff. Keselowski also kicked off the 2020 Playoffs in impressive fashion winning the second race of the Round of 16 at Richmond Raceway. The 2020 Playoffs mark the seventh time in his career Keselowski has made the Round of 12 (2014-2020). The Michigan native, Keselowski, head to Las Vegas looking to build on his early postseason success. He has made 14 series starts at the 1.5-mile track collecting three wins, seven top fives and 10 top 10s.


  1. Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) resides in fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,022 points – 17 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. The 2020 Playoffs mark the sixth time Logano has made the Round of 12 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020).  The Connecticut native, Logano, has put up two top-five finishes in the first three races of the 2020 Playoffs. Looking ahead to Las Vegas, Logano has made 14 series starts at the 1.5-mile speedway, posting two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s; which includes bringing home the checkered flag from Vegas back in February.


  1. Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) rests in fifth in the NASCAR cup Series Playoff standings with 3,021 points – 16 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff.  This season is the fifth time in Elliott’s career he has qualified for the Round of 12 (2016-2020). In the Round of 16, Elliott put up one top five and two top 10s. The Georgia native, Elliott, heads to Las Vegas this weekend having made seven series starts at the 1.5-mile raceway posting two top fives and three top 10s.


  1. Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 3,016 points – 11 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. The 2020 Playoffs mark the sixth time Truex has made the Round of 12 (2015-2020). Truex looked strong in the first round of the Playoffs but had mixed results only posting one top-five finish. Now the New Jersey native, Truex, turns his attention to Las Vegas where he has made 17 series starts posting two wins, five top fives and eight top 10s. Truex is the defending winner of the 2019 Las Vegas Playoff race.


  1. Alex Bowman (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) hangs on to seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,009 points – just a scant four points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff.  The 2020 Playoffs mark the third straight season he has qualified for the Round of 12. Bowman made good use of the tracks in the Round of 16 putting up two top-10 finishes. The Arizona native, Bowman, is hoping to continue his postseason success at Las Vegas this weekend. Bowman has made seven series starts at the 1.5-mile facility posting one top-10 finish - a ninth-place finish in the Playoff race last season.


  1. Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) grasps the eighth and final transfer spot to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,005 points. Dillon is tied in points with Aric Almirola in ninth – the first spot outside the Round of 8 cutoff – but Dillon holds the tiebreaker of best finish in the Round of 16. The 2020 Playoffs mark just the second time Dillon has advanced to the Round of 12 in his postseason career (2016, 2020). Dillon was impressive in the Round of 16 amassing two top-five finishes.  


  1. Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) clings to ninth, the first spot outside the Round of 8 cutoff, in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,005 points. Almirola is tied in points with Austin Dillon in eighth – the final transfer spot into the Round of 8 – but Dillon holds the tiebreaker of best finish in the Round of 16. This is the second time Almirola has qualified for the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2016, 2020). Almirola was consistent in the Round of 12 posting one top five and three top 10s. Now, Florida native, Almirola, looks to build on his Round of 16 performance in the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas. Almirola has made 14 series starts at Las Vegas posting three top-10 finishes.


  1. Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), the defending series champion, holds on to 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,004 points – just one point behind the Round of 8 cutoff. Busch is currently tied in points with Clint Bowyer in 11th, but Busch holds the tiebreaker – best finish in the Round of 16. The 2020 season marks the seventh time Busch has made the Round of 12. The Las Vegas native, Busch, put up one top five and two top 10s during the Round of 16. Now the two-time champ heads to his home track to keep his Playoffs hopes churning. Busch has made 18 series starts at Las Vegas posting one win, seven top fives and nine top 10s.


  1. Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) clenches the 11th spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 3,004 points – just one point behind the Round of 8 cutoff. Bowyer is currently tied in points with Kyle Busch in 10th, but Busch holds the tiebreaker – best finish in the Round of 16. This is the third-straight season Bowyer has made the Round of 12 in the Playoffs. Bowyer’s consistency of three top-10 finishes in the Round of 16 helped catapult him into the Round of 12. Now the Kansas native, Bowyer, focuses on Las Vegas Motor Speedway; a track he has made 17 starts posting one top five and four top 10s.


  1. Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) clutches the 12th and final spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Round of 12 with 3,001 points – four points behind the Round of 8 cutoff. The 2020 Playoffs mark the fourth time in his career he has advanced to the Round of 12 (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020). Busch posted just one top-10 finish in the round of 16. Now, the elder of the two Busch brothers, heads to his home track looking to rebound in the Playoff standings. Kurt Busch has made 21 series starts at the 1.5-mile Vegas track posting two top fives and five top 10s.


Kevin Harvick is 7/2 favorite to win 2020 South Point 400 at Las Vegas



The Quarterfinals


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 21​, 2020) – In December 1991, Nintendo released Tecmo Super Bowl to a worldwide audience.


Tecmo Super Bowl was for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and included the names and attributes of the National Football League. It was based on the 1990-91 NFL season, which was 30 years ago.


The game has a cult following and is still popular with players who use emulators to play the game on other systems and computers with updated NFL teams, or even college teams. So the University of Florida Gators could be playing the Purdue University Boilermakers. Or the Brown University Bears could battle the Princeton University Tigers.


In the original NFL version, Lawrence Taylor from the New York Giants was an unstoppable defender, while Bo Jackson from the Los Angeles Raiders could not be defended, and the Buffalo Bills, led by Jim Kelly, were quite good. Tecmo had a 16-game NFL schedule and then a playoff format in which a player could lead his chosen “team” to the Super Bowl. But as the playoffs progressed, the games got more and more difficult.


For Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), he begins the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and knows, like Tecmo, the races and competition will get much more difficult.


Fortunately for Harvick, he’s led the point standings since March and has a big advantage behind a career-high nine wins and counting.


As always, he will have the help of Mobil 1 as a sponsor and partner at Las Vegas, and that relationship has paid off nicely for Harvick with those nine wins in 2020. Included in those wins was the early August doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where with just one Ford engine in more than 90-degree air temperatures both Saturday and Sunday, he totaled 634 miles and came home with two trophies thanks to the advantage Mobil 1 technology gave him and the No. 4 team. 


In the late-August doubleheader weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Harvick finished fourth Saturday and won Sunday, and his engine went 622 miles with air temperatures in the 80s. Afterward, Harvick said simply, “Thank you to Mobil 1. They put a lot into the oils and lubricants in these cars and grinding to find more horsepower and less drag. It is an honor to drive for these guys.”


Harvick opened the playoffs with a win in the crown jewel Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, which is known for tearing up racecars during the Labor Day-weekend heat. It didn’t affect Harvick or his team this year as he led 32 laps en route to victory.


Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR team with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 18th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.


Harvick now heads to Las Vegas for Sunday’s South Point 400. Las Vegas is a place where Harvick has had a lot of success, with wins in March 2015 and 2018 and a Busch pole in March 2019.


In 2015 at the 1.5-mile oval, he started 18th, led five times for a total of 142 laps and beat runner-up Martin Truex Jr., by 1.640 seconds. In the March 2018 race, he started second and dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps en route to beating runner-up Kyle Busch by 2.906 seconds.


Harvick has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at Las Vegas. The 44-year-old driver has led 679 laps, has an average starting position of 15.8, an average finish of 13.9, and has completed 93.9 percent – 5,541 of 5,900 – of the laps he’s contested there.


He also has 2004 and 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Las Vegas and started three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races there in the late 1990s.


It’s also going to be a special race for the family of the late Terry Chesbro as Harvick and the No. 4 team support the Martin Truex Jr., Foundation and the NASCAR Foundation. Chesbro died on July 3, 2019 after a long cancer battle and, sadly, that was also the birthday of Chip Chesbro, his younger brother. Chip Chesbro is a big Harvick fan, but his brother Terry was his hero. Terry’s name will appear above the driver’s door of Harvick’s Mobil 1 Ford Sunday as a tribute to the fight against cancer.


The Round of 12 starts Sunday and Harvick is hoping to win to lock himself into the Round of 8, get more points and make the family of the late Terry Chesbro happy.


Plus, if anyone has ever won a playoff game in Tecmo Super Bowl, it’s usually quite the celebration.


KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 


A lot was made about the points cushion you had entering the playoffs, but you proved quickly that you didn’t even need to worry about using the cushion, capturing two wins in this first round. How important is it for you to stay consistent throughout the playoffs like you did in the opening round?


“Yeah, I think for us you just want to keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t want to get out of rhythm, you don’t want to start thinking about what could happen or what did happen. You just go and do what you do on a week-to-week basis, climb in the car, drive it as hard as you can. The guys are going to put what they think is the best setup in the car for that particular week, and everybody wants to achieve the same goal, so nobody is trying to have a bad night or a slow car. Everybody is coming to the racetrack trying to do everything that we can, but the thing I can tell you is when things aren’t going 100 percent correctly on a race weekend, we’ve got a great group of guys on pit road, we’ve got a great group of guys back at home helping us and on the pit box and doing all the things that it takes to try to climb back in the race or strategize our way back in the race. Sometimes those weeks, and I think Darlington is a great example of that, we just kept ourselves in the race and wound up in a position that capitalized on winning the race even though we weren’t really in contention to win. You just want to stay in rhythm. It’s kind of like basketball or football and you look at the teams that get the first-week bye and then they go to the next week and it always makes me wonder if you wouldn’t just rather keep playing to stay in that rhythm, because I know for us staying in the rhythm and just thinking the same way that we have all year is the best way to do it for us.”


A lot of people want to look at the second round and talk about all the potential pitfalls. You’ve always talked about looking at just one race ahead of time. How did you get that approach? How tough was it to kind of focus in this playoff system where it can be easy to get wrapped up? And do you see other people getting wrapped up with, ‘Oh, look, here’s Talladega, here’s the ‘roval, here’s all these bad things that can happen, I-have-to-do-more-in-Vegas’ type of thing?


“I think for us, you just don’t want to read anything that’s happening in the sport, honestly, at this particular time of the year. You just want to keep your mind as clear as possible. We’ve made a decision of how we want to think and what we want to talk about and pay attention to, and it’s us. I know that sounds selfish, but the thing that I can tell you is it’s way less mentally exhausting than worrying about where you need to have a good race and where you need to have a bad race. It’s how do we get the most out of this week, and once you start the race, it’s, ‘OK, what do we need to do to our car? Are we good? Are we bad? Where do we need to work and just try to be productive and proactive of thinking toward what we need to do next?’ I don’t have the capacity to think more than one week ahead, anyway, and trying to overthink things just takes way too much space in my brain for me to function during the week.”


Why do your prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?


“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993 when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car and the regular races would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”

Clint Bowyer is 60/1 to win 2020 South point 400 at Las Vegas



Las Vegas Agenda Includes Winning Race, Curing Cancer


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 21, 2020) – Clint Bowyer has some lofty goals for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval, the first of three races in the Round of 12 of this year’s playoffs.


Obviously, Bowyer wants to win the 400-mile race and earn the free pass to the next round. If not a victory, then he’d like to begin scoring enough points so he will be in the top eight after the Oct. 4 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Oct. 11 race on the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, when NASCAR trims the playoff field from 12 to eight drivers.  


While he is making his wish list, Bowyer also would like to find a cancer cure.


“We’ve got to get out to Las Vegas and swing for the fence,” Bowyer said, talking about his competition strategy and certainly describing efforts to fight the elusive disease.


“These are the playoffs – you don’t base hit it,” he said. “‘Steady Eddie’ got us through the first round, but from here on you’ve got to get up to the plate and swing for the fence every time, and every decision, and that’s in the car and out of the car. We’ve got to lay it on the line and go for it, and that’s why these playoffs are fun.”


Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang will carry the colors of longtime supporter One Cure, whose mission is to find a cancer cure through research benefiting man’s best friend – the dog.


The One Cure project is led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. It is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.


The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 of them enrolled in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.


Bowyer’s Las Vegas paint scheme will call special attention to the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS) created to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer. If successful, this study could provide important justification for eventually looking at a similar approach in humans.


VACCS will be the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer. Its goal is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention, rather than treatment, of dogs with cancer. Healthy dogs of certain breeds, 5.5 years or older, will be randomized to receive either a series of vaccines similar to other routine vaccines that are given to dogs currently, or placebo vaccines. Dogs will live at home and be checked two to three times yearly for five years after enrollment.


The hope is that vaccinated dogs will have a lower rate of cancer development. If so, this could lead to advances to prevent cancer, in the first place in pets, and perhaps also in people. A financial incentive will be offered to defray the cost associated with diagnostics and treatment of any cancers that dogs develop, regardless of whether they are receiving vaccine or placebo.


The goal is to enroll 800 dogs in the study. Race fans interested in enrolling their pet to play a key role in helping find a vaccine to prevent cancer, or those interested in donating, may do so at  


The paint scheme of Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang at Las Vegas will picture two dogs already enrolled in the study.


“I hope what One Cure is doing will make life better for pets and humans in the coming years,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows how much my family and I value animals. Whether it’s our dogs, pigs, goats or any of our farm animals, there have always been pets around my house. And everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by cancer. I couldn’t think of many things better than finding a cancer cure.”


The decal on the roof of Bowyer’s racecar that normally displays his name will be replaced Sunday by the name of 10-year-old cancer survivor Claire Kochenower of Houston, Texas. Her name will ride on Bowyer’s car as part of the Martin Truex Jr., and NASCAR foundations’ Nominate a Cancer Hero program. Bowyer has been a favorite of the Kochenower family, and even one of Claire’s teddy bears is a Bowyer fan.


Bowyer hopes to take her name to victory lane on Sunday, or at least get a good start in the Round of 12. More importantly, maybe the attention generated by Bowyer’s paint scheme and the work done by One Cure can lead to an even greater victory for Claire and millions like her.



CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


How are you running heading into the Round of 12?


“I feel comfortable we’re getting back to our consistency. I guess for a long time in my career I was kind of ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s what it takes in these playoffs – to go the rounds. You can’t make mistakes. I said that going into these playoffs. For our team, we’ve got to live up to our capabilities and, if we can do that and race to our capabilities and not make the mistakes we were making through the summer months, we can contend and move forward rounds in this playoff system. And that’s what we’re doing.”


What is your strategy Sunday?


“I’m looking forward to getting out to Sin City and having some fun out there. Hopefully we can double down, get some stage points and continue to march forward up through this playoff system and the points.”

Kyle Busch is 8/1 to win 2020 South Point 400



Home Sweet Home


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Sept. 22, 2020) – Kyle Busch’s return home this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could go a long way in determining his NASCAR Cup Series playoff chances when the Round of 12 kicks off Sunday at Busch’s hometown track.


The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) heads to the 1.5-mile desert oval 10th in the playoff standings, and with the unpredictable Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval set to close out the Round of 12, the Las Vegas native wants to get off to a strong start to the round with a solid finish Sunday.


Aside from NASCAR’s biggest events like the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win at the hometown racetrack is high on the priority list for most NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Busch crossed that all-important hometown win off his list when he won in just his fifth Las Vegas Cup Series start in 2009.


The 2002 honors graduate of Durango High School in Las Vegas qualified on the pole that weekend but was forced to start at the rear of the field because his team needed to change engines during Friday practice. Unfazed, Busch remained patient on race day as he and the M&M’S team worked their way to the front of the field by the 54th lap. He went on to lead three times for 51 laps en route to claiming what he called at the time the biggest win of his young career.


This weekend, he would like nothing more than to double his number of Cup Series wins at Las Vegas to go with that emotional first hometown win.


While Busch added 2016 and 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Las Vegas to go with three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series wins in a row from 2018 to 2020, he already was no stranger to winning on Las Vegas Motor Speedway property. From 1999 to 2001, he earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s “Bullring,” which existed for several years before the NASCAR oval was built. When Busch moved up to Late Model stock cars, his winning ways continued with 10 victories at the Bullring in 2001.


So as Busch returns to Las Vegas this weekend, he hopes the he can turn a trip back home into a trip back to a place he’s just as familiar with – victory lane.


KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 


Is there more pressure to go out there and win at your hometown track than anywhere else?


“I used to put more stress on myself to win there, no doubt. I never knew if winning there would happen for me and it’s neat I’ve been able to win in all three series at Vegas. There is stress going into those events. For myself, I was able to get that done in 2009 there at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get into victory lane. That felt good. To able to go back there years after and go out there and race, and not have to worry about the stress of winning that race, you still want to win. We want to win every single one of them. That’s a fact. Overall, when you come into your hometown, and we watched this place get built from nothing, it means that extra more to you and it would be great if we could get back to victory lane this weekend with our M&M’S Camry.”


What’s changed to make Las Vegas grow into a real sports town?


“I think it’s definitely grown into that more and more over the years. When I was a kid there, I always kind of wondered why we didn’t have a professional team of any kind. You know, whether it would be hockey or basketball or baseball or football, but it’s becoming a sports town more and more, which is good. There are a lot of stars in all kinds of sports who come from our town with (Bryce) Harper, myself and Kurt (Busch), some other, younger, up-and-coming drivers, as well, like Noah (Gragson), and such. It’s nice to have an opportunity to have that place to be able to go play if you can make it to the hometown team and be a star in that series, that league.”


Do you feel you and your team are on the verge of breaking through for that first win of the season, or do you still have a lot of work to do?


“I think we struggle in traffic, that’s our biggest problem. I can’t get through traffic very well. We kind of saw it at Darlington a few weeks ago. Wherever I single-filed out in a race run is kind of where I ran. There wasn’t much of me going forward or going backward, for that matter. When I got up front and got up to second, I was able to restart with Martin Truex Jr. Truex and I ran really fast, really hard and drove away from the field. Our car had speed. We had the comfort in being up front and the aero being in second place versus being back in seventh or eighth or whatever it might be. We were able to drive away from the field. That gave me some optimistic measures for things to come and, obviously, our teammates have been starting up front, they’ve been running up front and they’ve been doing a good job of keeping themselves in the mix as far as all that goes on the intermediate tracks. If we can continue to evolve and get ourselves up a little bit higher, then hopefully that will bode well for us, too.”


What was it like to bring home a Cup Series win in your hometown in 2009?


“It was cool. To go out there and to run a smooth race and to have a shot at winning at the end of the race, that’s what it’s all about. I watched Vegas being built from the ground up, and I remember when it wasn’t anything but a gleam in the eye of Richie Clyne (founder of Las Vegas Motor Speedway) – all those guys who made that place happen.”



What is your fondest racing memory of growing up in Las Vegas?

“My fondest racing memory is probably my first Late Model race. I started about eighth or 10th and ended up winning it. My first-ever start, I won. So that is definitely a great memory to have.”


NASCAR Playoffs continue with start of Round of 12 at Las Vegas

The 30th race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule brings us back to Las Vegas for the second time this season, the third straight season that Las Vegas Motor Speedway has two dates on the schedule.

Sunday’s South Point 400 will also start the Round of 12 which will be followed by races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval after which four more drivers will be chopped from playoff competition. It’s a tricky round and the teams will be using three different race packages.

The race package being used this week at Las Vegas is the 550 horsepower package used on the intermediate tracks. It’s been used 17 times this season, eight of them on 1.5-mile tracks similar to Las Vegas. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have combined to win 11 of the 17 using the package, which is why they’re listed as the favorites to win Sunday.

Whoever wins will do so in front of an empty grandstand as coronavirus protocols in the state of Nevada prohibit large gatherings. The track offered a plan that would have limited spectator seating. However, it was rejected by state health officials and no fans will be allowed on the grounds.

As for the race itself, the 12 drivers still competing for the championship better make the most out of the Las Vegas race because Talladega and the Roval are going to make it tough for some well-known drivers to get through. Just like the Round of 16, eligible drivers advance to the next round by either winning one of the next three or accumulating the most points. The bottom four in this round will get chopped.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cole Custer is 150/1 to win 2020 South Point 400 at Las Vegas



Moving On from the Championship Hunt


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 22, 2020) – For the final NASCAR Cup Series race of September, Cole Custer and the No. 41 team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) venture out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s South Point 400. The season’s second stop at the mile-and-a-half desert oval will be Custer’s 33rd Cup Series start.


Las Vegas marks the first race of the Round of 12 in this year’s Cup Series playoffs. Custer qualified for the playoffs in his rookie season. He finished 12th at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and 14th at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in the opening two races of the Round of 16, but missed advancing to the next round by 28 points after finishing 23rd at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last Saturday night after battling an ill-handling Mustang. Nonetheless, the season isn’t a wash for Southern California native. He can finish as high as fifth in the championship points. “I studied as much as I could going into Bristol to figure things out, but I just missed it somewhere,” Custer said. “We’ll keep trying, though, even though we aren’t moving on to the next round.”

In February at Las Vegas, Custer started 17th and finished 19th after fighting a tight-handling car throughout the day. He also made a Cup Series start in 2018 at Las Vegas in a Rick Ware Racing-owned entry, starting 30th and finishing 27th in his first ever Cup Series outing.

In addition to the paint scheme on the No. 41 Ford Mustang, Custer will have two special people riding along with him this weekend. In support of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and the NASCAR Foundation’s Cancer Heroes program, Custer will have the names of Kieran Ecker above the driver’s side door and Margaret Evelyn Crosby above the passenger door. Ecker who was nominated by his wife Bethany, was diagnosed with diffuse large b-cell lymphoma last year. Ecker continued to work at Ford Motor Company while undergoing treatment. Evelyn Crosby was nominated by Joe Custer, Cole’s father. Crosby is the rookie driver’s great grandmother and was diagnosed with leukemia and succumbed to the disease in 1937.

In the Xfinity Series, Custer has five starts at Las Vegas from 2017 to 2019 with three pole awards and four top-10 finishes. In total, Custer has an average Xfinity Series starting position of 5.4 and an average finishing position of 7.2, along with 54 laps led. Custer has one 2016 outing in the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series at Las Vegas. He started and finished third.

So far this season, Ford has won 17 races, and Custer and his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick have both earned wins for the Blue Oval – one for Custer and nine for Harvick. Ford’s milestone 700th win in the Cup Series came at the hands of Harvick on Aug. 23 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Ford captured its first victory on June 25, 1950. Ford drivers made up 50 percent of this year’s starting playoff field, with eight drivers representing the Michigan manufacturer in the Round of 16, and five drivers continuing on to the Round of 12.

With Custer’s Cup Series win July 12 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, he became one of 10 drivers who have won in each of NASCAR’s top three national series, as well as in ARCA and one of NASCAR’s developmental series.


Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at and shipped directly to end users. Beginning July 1, products became available nationally. The cutting tools available for purchase at are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.


In 47 starts at Las Vegas, SHR has three wins with team co-owner Tony Stewart capturing the first in March 2012, and Harvick adding wins in March 2015 and March 2018. In total, SHR has three pole awards, eight top-fives and 16 top-10s along with 994 laps led at Las Vegas.


Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.


Custer, who had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, clinched 2020 Rookie of the Year honors in his official rookie season in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. Competing against fellow rookie notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, he was the only rookie to clinch a playoff spot this season.

Cole Custer: Driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What has been the hardest thing for you to adapt to this season as a rookie?


“The 550 package on the mile-and-a-halves that we run. It’s been strange getting used to that. It’s so different from what we ran in the Xfinity Series. You can look at as much data and video as you want, but you really don’t get to feel it until you’re out there. It was really confusing to me at the beginning of the year, honestly. Now I feel like we know what I want in the cars and what I want on the track. Now it’s just trying to be consistent with it.”


What does it actually mean from the driver’s perspective when you talk about the difference between the 550 and 750 package?


“Well, the aero is different, so how the car works traffic is a lot different. The gas is a lot different because you’re carrying so much more throttle time. How you work the brake, how you work the restarts, everything about it is just different. So if you’re not hitting it 100 percent as good as you can in all of those areas, you’re going to get eaten up. You’re trying to perfect it and know exactly what you need to do in each situation.”


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given on how to get to that next level in your career?


“I think the best piece is just taking it one step at a time. Find ways to make yourself better and still stay hungry. You’re going to stress yourself out too much if you don’t take it one step at a time.”


You’ve raced against Kyle Busch a lot in the Xfinity Series. He’s having a tough year in the Cup Series without a win, yet, but he is the defending series champion. Regardless, how hard and tough is it to beat Kyle on the track?


“Kyle is one of the best out there and can do impressive things in the car. It’s a huge deal to get to race with him. You can learn a lot from him and his year goes to show that you have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle come together to win a race. It’s not easy, and some of the best out there go through some dry spells.”

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Kevin Harvick wins Bristol Night Race for Ninth win of 2020


Number 9, Number 9, Number 9 – Harvick Wins!

Busch Light Ford Mustang Driver Wins Bristol. Scores Career-High Ninth Victory of Season

Date: Sept. 19, 2020

Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile, concrete oval)

Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)

Start/Finish: 4th/1st (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: (1st with 3,067 points, advances to Round of 12 by virtue of win)


Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

●  Kevin Harvick started fourth and finished third, earning eight bonus points.

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang took the lead on lap 18, when Harvick got by Brad Keselowski.

●  On lap 35, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. He was leading and said his car was turning very well, but needs more rear grip.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

●  Kevin Harvick started third and finished second, earning nine bonus points.  

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 139 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said car was a bit tight.

●   On lap 217, Harvick got by Chase Elliott and took over second place.

●   Harvick pitted on lap 237 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said car was still a little too tight.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

●  Kevin Harvick started fourth and finished first.

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang got by the No. 18 car driven by Kyle Busch on lap 282 to take the lead.

●   Harvick was headed to pit road on lap 408 when James Davison got into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. Spotter Tim Fedewa called for Harvick to stay out. He pitted on lap 412 for four tires, fuel and some tape on the grill.

●   On lap 459, Kyle Busch took the lead from Harvick, but the No. 4 car got the lead back 10 laps later.

●   Harvick suffered some front end damage from the No. 51 car of Joey Gase, which was slowing him down with less than 20 laps to go, but he was able to hold off Busch by .31 of second.  



●  There were five caution periods for a total of 50 laps.

●  Only six of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

●  Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 19-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

●  Harvick earned his series-leading ninth victory of the season and his third victory in 40 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.

●  Harvick’s nine wins surpassed his own mark for the most victories in a single season. He won eight races in 2018.

●  This was Harvick’s third straight top-10. He won Sept. 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished seventh in the series’ prior race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

●  Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only three finishes outside the top-15 at Bristol.

●  Harvick has finished among the top-10 in 24 of the 29 races held this year. He has only three finishes outside the top-15.

●  Harvick finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points and second in Stage 2 to earn nine more bonus points.

●  Harvick led four times for a race-high 226 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 1,138.

●  Harvick has now led 11,024 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,450 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.

●  Harvick has led 1,416 laps in the 29 races held this season. He is the only driver to hit the 1,000 laps led mark this season. Next best is Brad Keselowski with 912 laps led.

●  Harvick’s victory in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race marked the 88th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 65th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its 10th of the season and its third at Bristol.

●  SHR scored its first Bristol win in August 2016 with Harvick. The team’s second win came in August 2018 with former driver Kurt Busch.

●  This was SHR’s 29th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

●  Harvick has now won 23 NASCAR Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano for 10th all time.

●  This was Ford’s series-leading 17th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 703rd all-time Cup Series victory.

●  This was Ford’s 39th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol and its second straight. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Brad Keselowski in the series’ last race at the track in May. Its first Bristol win came on March 31, 1963 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts.

●  This was Harvick’s 58th career NASCAR Cup Series win. He is alone at ninth on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Next on the all-time win list is NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt with 76 victories.

●  This was Harvick’s 35th NASCAR Cup Series victory since joining SHR in 2014.


Playoff Standings:

1.      Kevin Harvick (3,067 points)

2.      Denny Hamlin (3,048 points) -19

3.      Brad Keselowski (3,035 points) -32

4.      Joey Logano (3,022 points) -45

5.      Chase Elliott (3,021 points) -46

6.      Martin Truex Jr. (3,016 points) -51

7.      Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -58

8.      Austin Dillon (3,005 points) -62

9.      Aric Almirola (3,005 points) -62

10.    Kyle Busch (3,004 points) -63

11.    Clint Bowyer (3,004 points) -63

12.    Kurt Busch (3,001 points) -66


Failed to Advance to Round of 12:

13.   Cole Custer (2,067 points)

14.   William Byron (2,062 points)

15.   Ryan Blaney (2,058 points)

16.   Matt DiBenedetto (2,054 points)


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Man, I just want to say thank you to all the fans. I was so jacked up when we started this race because of you guys and Bristol Motor Speedway. I’m just really really proud of everybody on our Busch Light Ford. Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, everybody from Jimmy John’s, Fields.  We’ll bring the sword to the go-kart tent tomorrow, so you boys better be ready to take a picture.”


What about the battle with Kyle Busch?

“To beat Kyle Busch at Bristol, I kind of got myself in a little bit of a ringer there. I hit a lapped car and got a hole in the right-front nose, but just kept fighting. We don’t have anything else to lose. We were here to try to win a race. I know how much Rodney (Childers, crew chief) really enjoys coming here and, hell, how can you not enjoy coming here with all this enthusiasm. Everybody is tired of being at home.”


Is there any way to say how good this season has been?

“There is not.  It’s just been a weird a year, but it’s been an unbelievable year on the racetrack.  I can’t thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing enough.”


Those last 60 laps you navigated through lap traffic pretty well.  What can you say about the job your spotter Tim (Fedewa) did tonight and the job he did guiding you through that lap traffic?  How great was that to have on your side?

“Well, I think the best -- Timmy was on it tonight. He was one step ahead of me, and that really helps because you can't really see all the way out of the corner when you're entering the corner and headed to the center of the corner, you can't really tell. Him being one step ahead of me so I know what to do when I get to the next corner as far as low or high line definitely puts us in a great spot. He definitely did a great job. The biggest turning point of the night was when we were coming to pit road, cars beside me spun out and we stayed on the racetrack and without clipping the box or anything and put a bunch of them a lap down, so that was definitely a big moment.”


Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs and the first race in the Round of 12. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.