Just two races remain on the season, and Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway’s flat half-mile paperclip layout will be the final race of the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Four drivers will get chopped from the playoffs after the race and four drivers will comprise of the Championship 4 and race for the season championship next week at Phoenix Raceway.
Here’s a look at what I’m thinking this week using the odds order from BetMGM sportsbooks.
XFINITY 500 BETTING RESOURCES
Date: Sunday, October 30, 2022 Venue: Martinsville Speedway Location: Ridgeway, Virginia Distance: 263 miles Laps: 500 Network-Time: NBC - 2:00 p.m. Defending Champion: Alex Bowman
XFINITY 500 PICKS & PREDICTIONS
Chase Elliott (6/1) - He deserves to be the favorite because Hendrick Motorsports has this track figured out, he kicked it strong in the April race with the NextGen car leading 185 laps but finishing 10th. He’s got a championship at stake and he sits third in points. He has to race smart and points race here, I think. Sure he’ll have a car that can win, but the bigger picture is at play here. In 14 Cup starts at Martinsville he has a win, five top-fives, and 903 laps led.
Denny Hamlin (7/1) - He’s the active leader with five Martinsville wins and 1,987 laps led. He has 16 top-fives in 33 career Cup starts. No one is better than him at Martinsville because he’s a Virginian and has been racing at the track forever. But he still needs the car and the NextGen car has not been able to meet his requirement standards. He started 25th in the spring race and finished 28th. He’s fifth in points and needs help to make the Championship 4, or he could just win. He’s got a plan.
“It’s going to be a fight. It’s definitely not going to be easy,’ Hamlin said. “I expect that passing is going to be very difficult, so track position is going to be super important. We’ve got to go in there Saturday and qualify up front and have good short run speed in addition to the long run speed. That has hurt us pretty bad the last couple of weeks but knowing how difficult it’s going to be to pass, I think we’ll put a little more emphasis on that and hopefully be able to get some stage points to give ourselves a chance to advance.”
Ryan Blaney (8/1) - There were 19 different drivers with wins this season and Blaney wasn’t one of them. But he’s still alive in the playoffs. He can still be the 2022 champ with a great run here where he’s been great since coming to Team Penske. All six of his top-fives in Martinsville have come in the nine races since 2018 when he signed with Penske. He should have at least one win there by now, like last spring when he won the first two stages, led 157 laps, and then finished 11th. He was fourth in the spring race this season. I’m on board for a win this week. Punt somebody Ryan, be tough, go big! Search for better odds.
William Byron (8/1) - He sits fourth in points and with a nice day he can stay above the cutline. But Hamlin is only 5-points behind him. I think he can win again. He won in the spring and led a race-high 212 laps, but he was strong there before the NextGen car as well. His last win was at Martinsville. Let’s see if they can dust off all those notes from April and see if they can get themselves into the Championship 4 at Phoenix.
Joey Logano (9/1) - He’s leading the playoffs. He’s going for his second title. It’s right there and Phoenix is a great track for him. But so is Martinsville with a win and nine top-fives in 27 starts. He’s led 1,098 laps. The problem I have this week is that he may not go for the win, or make a move to irritate someone who can retaliate at Phoenix, and at Martinsville, you have to ruffle some feathers to win. It’s hard to pass. Play it safe, go for the win next week.
Martin Truex Jr. (9/1) - From 2017 to 2021, no one was better at Martinsville than Truex. Three wins, seven top-fives, and lots of laps led. NextGen car enters 2022 and goodbye to a strong edge. It’s been like that for Toyota drivers collectively at curtain tracks. No one that follows NASCAR is running to bet this at BetMGM because of the new car and also because he hasn’t won a race in 2022. He missed the playoffs. This price is definitely malpractice by the robots making the odds. He was 22nd in the spring race.
“Hopefully it’s a better race for us than the first time there,” Truex said. “We were off a little compared to how we’ve been there the past handful of years with the old car. I felt like we got it going pretty good in the race, so if we can just unload a little closer and be able to qualify better, that would help a lot. I feel like we’ve learned a lot as a company since that first race and our teammates tested there a while back, so I think we’ll certainly be better, but it’s going to be really tough to pass like we saw in the spring. Qualifying and pit road are both going to be very important; not that they aren’t always, but this week more so than normal.”
Kyle Larson (12/1) - He needs room to do his thing, lots of room. Martinsville and superspeedways aren’t his thing because everyone is so close and bunched together. In 15 Cup starts at Martinsville, he has two top-fives and 112 laps led for a 20th-place average finish. He’s a definite pass for me here.
Christopher Bell (14/1) - He doesn’t have anything special in five Cup starts at Martinsville, but I do see some similarities in this half-mile flat paperclip as the 1-mile flat paperclip at New Hampshire that he won at in July. He’s seventh in the playoffs with his only way in by winning. So you got that going for you with a bet on him.
“The spring race at Martinsville was very unique, because it was very hard to pass,” Bell said. “We qualified well and ran inside the top-10 until we had a pit road penalty bury us and we weren’t able to recover. We showed potential there and I think JGR as a whole has improved on their short track program. I’ve got all the faith in the world that we are going to bring another Camry capable of winning, and I have to go out there and see what we can do.”
It’s the last 1.5-mile track of the NASCAR Cup schedule and it'll be at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, and it’s the second race of the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Just three races remain on the season and the new NextGen car has shown to have its up and downs in performance and injury as two playoff drivers have had their seasons cut short due to concussion symptoms.
The good news about the NextGen car is that 19 different drivers have won races in the first 33 races -- everyone is equal, but the bad news is that the car may not be safe.
The new car also tore apart all past trends with drivers at certain tracks they like. Denny Hamlin at Martinsville, no dice. Kyle Larson on 1.5-mile tracks, no dice. Crew chiefs and car chiefs can no longer wiggle the rules with creative engineering. I always say if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.
But that’s all gone now, and it’s definitely not in the spirit of NASCAR origins. For goodness sake, NASCAR started by bootlegging liquor and the bootleggers needed souped-up cars to outrun the law.
Hopefully, NASCAR will take off the handcuffs next season, let the teams be NASCAR again, let Larson roll again on 1.5s, and stop trying to be F-1. Enough of the six road races.
Most of us like stock car racing for what it is and what it’s been. Low-profile tires with a single lug nut have proven to cause lots of problems this season. Is there a real stock car at the sales lot with a single lug nut? Be true to what NASCAR is supposed to be.
NASCAR, fix it all, please. I want my NASCAR back, and I want the drivers safe. Throw in a Rockingham date on the schedule too,
Here’s a look at the BetMGM odds to win Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 in order with some commentary and quotes from a few of the drivers:
DIXIE VODKA 400 PICKS & PREDICTIONS
Denny Hamlin (7/1) has to have a great run this week because the 1.5s and 2-mile tracks have been his bread and butter in 2022. The new car has created a problem. He was the best at Martinsville but not so much this season. Not even a glimmer in April. If he doesn’t win or grab a top-five here, he’s in trouble, because his last hope is Martinsville next week, and I like desperation. He knows this, his crew knows this, and he’s a three-time winner at Homestead and the wins happened at all stages of his career. I’ll bet he’s looking forward to this race.
“I’m looking forward to Homestead,” Hamlin said. “We had a very good test there a few weeks ago and really felt like we unloaded as one of the best cars. After two days, the field kind of caught up to us a little bit, but I have a lot of confidence going there. I feel like the driver can make a difference just with the different lines you can run, so I think that fits into our strengths on top of just how strong we have been on these types of tracks this year.”
Tyler Reddick (7/1) is a bad man in Homestead. Give him a decent car and he’ll do amazing stuff with it there. He won back-to-back Homestead races in 2018-19 in the Xfinity Series and then in his first two Cup starts he finished fourth as a rookie in 2020 and was runner-up last season. He rides the high line against the wall that Larson rides and has had better success. I think he’s going to win this week so search for the best price.
Chase Elliott (10/1) has never won at Homestead but he has a ninth-place average finish in six starts with two top-fives. I caution against him here because his only big success on 1.5s and 2-mile tracks was using the superspeedway package at Atlanta. But this guy is so smooth that I can’t visualize him not racing for his second title at Phoenix. He’s so calm, I just don’t know that his car is ready to win here.
"The good news is I feel like we have a really smart and talented group of guys that are going to work on it,’ Elliott said. “We’ve been talking a lot this week and if this weekend goes bad, I can assure you it will not be for a lack of effort. Great opportunity here for us right now and we’re still very much alive in this deal. We just need to go down there and just try to have a solid weekend. Do we have to go win the race? No, I don’t think you have to go win the race, but I think you put yourself in position, getting some solid stage points, being up front and being in the mix. Those are things that are going to hedge your bet of being happy after Martinsville (Speedway)."
Joey Logano (10/1) won last week for his third win of the season, but more importantly grabbed the first of four Championship 4 invitations. He’s going to be racing for his second Cup title at Phoenix on Nov. 6. He has a 14th-place average finish in 13 Cup starts with one win, and his first championship, and he’s had top-fives in four of the last five races I’ve grouped together. Win at Vegas, runner-up at Texas, fourth at Darlington, and fourth at Michigan. That’s a stacked deck. He can go all out for the win this week with nothing to fear.
In half of his eight Homestead starts Kyle Larson (10/1) had four top-fives with 330 laps led. His move was to rim-ride all the way around the track. Maximum speed and little movement help the tires stay fresher on long runs. I expect him to do some riding up top again but the new car has changed a lot about what we thought we knew based on the old car.
"I think this car is just a little different at Homestead-Miami,” Larson said. “Nothing crazy. I think running the wall is a little bit easier but maybe not way faster than it used to be compared to the other lanes. I still think it is just a lot easier to run the wall than before. You may see more people up there and it may be a little bit harder to pass than in the past."
Ross Chastain (10/1) has been stuck on two wins since winning at Talladega in April and along the way, he’s gained plenty of enemies among veteran drivers feeling they need to get paybacks due to his aggressive driving style that ruined some days. He’s been on the lowdown, keeping quiet and driving shackled, but Las Vegas was incredible. He led the most laps there again (68) and was runner-up. He’s going to be fast here again despite no special Homestead moments. Championship? He’s second in points. I think I like his arrogance.
Ryan Blaney (10/1) is seventh in points now after a disappointing 28th at Las Vegas, but let’s not forget that he was fifth in the first stage and won the second stage, and led 39 laps. He was on his way to his first win of the season and a bump in points. I feel like he’s going berserk with just about every driver trying to bully him out of the way. He owes some paybacks for sure. One top-five in seven Homestead starts. I’m rooting for him. But I didn’t bet him to win this week.
DIXIE VODKA 400 BETTING RESOURCES
Date: Sunday, October 23, 2022 Venue: Homestead-Miami Speedway Location: Homestead, Florida Distance: 400.5 miles Laps: 267 Network-Time: NBC - 2:30 p.m. Defending Champion: William Byron
Christopher Bell (12/1) got caught up in Bubba Wallace’s road rage last week and it cost him in the playoffs. He’s all the way down to eighth in points and needs to probably win one of the next two races to advance to Phoenix for a shot at the title. He still has the most top-fives (11) among Toyota drivers. The key thing here is that he’s thinking win.
“As disappointing as Vegas was, if anyone can pull through, it’s our No. 20 group,” Bell said. “I expect to be extremely competitive again and am ready to tackle the challenge.”
Just when I thought Kyle Busch (12/1) was going to pack it in and look towards 2023 with RCR Racing, he battles like old times through diversity and comes through with third place at his home track in Las Vegas. He’s not done yet by any means. In 17 Homestead starts he has five top-fives and 465 laps led with two huge wins that gave him his two season championships. I’ll bet he loves Homestead.
“For sure,” Busch said. “Obviously, any time you go back to a place where we got to celebrate not one, but two championships, those are great memories I will have, and my family will have, forever. It’s also just a fun place to race. I don’t think there’s any driver who doesn’t get excited to race there, you just have some many options on where to run. We’ve been very good there the last 10 races or so and hoping we can get our SKITTLES Lime is Back Camry TRD back to victory lane there. Would be special to get one more win with JGR and with Mars before we close the season out together.”
Martin Truex Jr (12/1) has no wins this season. No playoffs. So Naturally, he’s desperate for a win. He was seventh last week at Vegas and sixth at Michigan in August. He has a 9.9 average finish in 17 starts at Homestead that is fourth best among active drivers. He has a 2017 win and seven top-fives. I wonder how he feels about this weekend.
“I feel pretty good about this weekend,” Truex said. “Homestead has been a good track for us, and we were able to do the test a few weeks ago, so we should be good this weekend. I really enjoy the track; it’s got different options as far as where you can run, and the surface is worn out. That seems to be where we have been our best this season, so I’m looking forward to it.”
No. 4 GEARWRENCH®Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: South Point 400 (Round 33 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 16
● Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 267 laps/400.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 85 laps / Final Stage: 102 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014, Kevin Harvick has finished among the top-10 in eight of the 13 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In that span, the driver of the No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang has led 621 laps and won twice – March 2015 and March 2018. Harvick finished 12th in the series’ most recent race at the 1.5-mile oval in March.
● Harvick has led a total of 679 laps at Las Vegas, the most of any NASCAR Cup Series driver in the history of the track. Next best in this category is seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson with 595 laps led. All but 58 of Harvick’s laps led at Las Vegas have come in his nine years with SHR. The 2022 season is Harvick’s 22nd year in Cup.
● Harvick’s win at Las Vegas in March 2018 was his 100th career victory across NASCAR’s top-three national touring series – Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck. He has since scored 21 more Cup wins to bring his record to 121 total victories – 60 in Cup, 47 in Xfinity and 14 in Truck. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have surpassed 100 wins across NASCAR’s top-three series: Kyle Busch (224 wins), Richard Petty (200 wins) and David Pearson (106 wins).
● Harvick has a total of 13 top-10s at Las Vegas, tied with Kyle Busch for the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
● There have been 29 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Las Vegas, including its inaugural race on March 1, 1998. Harvick has started 26 of those races, the most of any driver, past or present.
● Harvick has made 11 starts in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas. He has two wins, six top-fives and seven top-10s. His first Xfinity Series win came in 2004 when he started 11th and led 14 laps. His second triumph came in 2010 when he started second and led 82 laps.
● Harvick has made three Truck Series starts at Las Vegas, earning two top-10s with a best finish of eighth in 1997.
● GEARWRENCH®, a premier hand tool brand from Apex Tool Group, joined Harvick and the No. 4 team as a primary partner in 2022. GEARWRENCH is the No. 1 worldwide professional-grade mechanics’ hand tool brand, offering products that are designed and manufactured to meet the requirements of pros, mechanics and auto techs who make a living with their tools. GEARWRENCH understands the problems mechanics face every day and provides tools that increase productivity through speed, strength and access. Since the launch of the original five-degree ratcheting wrench, the GEARWRENCH brand has led the industry with breakthroughs in pass-thru ratchets, sockets, screw/nut drivers, pliers, extraction tools and specialty tools. Learn more at GEARWRENCH.com.
● Featured on the decklid of Harvick’s No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang during the South Point 400 are GEARWRENCH PITBULL™ pliers, which provide unstoppable gripping and cutting performance thanks to a range of technology. GEARWRENCH PITBULL Auto Bite™ pliers feature one-handed, automatic gripping action, so they’re perfect for tough work in tight spaces. GEARWRENCH PITBULL Tongue and Groove pliers have a K9™ jaw that bites hard to grip strong, even when attacking at an angle. And when it comes to superior cutting, GEARWRENCH PITBULL cutting pliers deliver with 35 percent less force needed to cut and a 50 percent longer blade life. Learn more about the entire range of GEARWRENCH PITBULL pliers HERE.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 GEARWRENCHFord Mustang
What are your expectations as you return to Las Vegas since last competing at the track nearly seven months ago?
“I honestly can’t even tell you what happened in the first race, it’s been so long. We’ve just been through so many tests and so many simulator sessions and so many different forms of setups and things with the car, and the evolutions of the setups and the tires, and the understanding of the vehicle is just in a massively different spot than where we were at the beginning of the year. That progression of the sport that naturally comes year after year after year is just much more rapid this year because of the new car, so it’ll be interesting to see how Las Vegas is this weekend with our GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang. A lot of it depends on just how hot it is. We’re expecting hot, but I think the falloff will be dictated by that, and which tire we bring with which stagger, will also be a little bit of a difference than we had the first time.”
Was there a point this season where you felt like you finally had a handle on the NextGen car?
“It has depended on the racetrack, especially as we go to some of these racetracks for the second time – Richmond being one of those. For me, it’s been a relief just because you could look back and say, ‘OK, the car felt like this, this is what my notes say, this is what the team said.’ You can watch the videos and all the data that comes with everything we do in today’s world, and say, ‘OK, this is where I let off, this is how I drove the car last time.’ That part has happened a lot as we go to some of these races for a second time, and that gives me a comfort level to know that you can do this with the car and that with the car. But it’s still a learning process because our garage never quits learning. The teams are always learning, and it’s a constant progression of setups and evolution of driving and styles and things that you can and can’t do. You’re still trying to find those limits to where you can race, and how you can race, and what you can do on, really, everything. It’s not as fast as it was at the beginning of the year, but it’s still a pretty rapid evolution. But that’s pretty constant in our garage, because we have so many smart people and engineers working on these cars.”
What’s different about the NextGen car?
“It’s just different in every aspect of everything you do. Other than the fact that you’re in a race, everything inside the car just feels different. The steering is different, where we went from just an old-style steering box to now rack-and-pinion steering, so if you touch the wheel just a little bit, the steering immediately reacts. The pedals are all different and the way that they feel is different. You have an extra gear inside the car. It’s a sequential straight-up, straight-down sequential shifting mechanism that goes inside the car. So, there’s just so many things that are different that we’ve had to learn and, really, had to relearn some of the things that you have to do within the car, whether it’s how you use the throttle, how you steer the car, use the braking, which have different tendencies than the old car. It’s nothing outside the box, but it’s so drastically different that you’ve had to almost retrain yourself to do some things and the style of things that you’ve learned the car likes over the season. That part has been fun and difficult all at the same time and, for us, we’ve been very fortunate to spend a lot of time in the simulator and have it be somewhat relevant to the racetrack to try to create that muscle memory and thought process of things that you have to do that are different.”
What’s it been like racing with the NextGen car?
“There are definitely more accidents, and I think a lot of that comes with the aggression of knowing you’re not going to cave a fender in, and you have to be able to do what you need to do on the restarts to try to gain spots. So when you look at that, there have been more DNFs, there have been more accidents, there have been less top-10s, less top-fives, more spread out as far as the win column goes with the 19 different winners so far. It’s been much different as everybody’s learning about the car and trying to understand it. It’s kind of spread things out throughout the field. You’ll have something torn up, you’ll have races where you don’t get torn up and you don’t run well, but you can still salvage a top-10 because that attrition rate has been higher.”
Why is the attrition rate higher?
“The racing is closer and the cars are more durable, so people are more aggressive, especially on the restarts. Pit road has been different with the loose wheels and the speed of the pit stops and the margin of error is just less. I think the aggression level is up. Some places are more difficult to pass than they’ve been in the past and you have to take your opportunities as you can. You’ve seen a lot more people spin out this year, and you’re just seeing a lot of things happen that haven’t happened in years past.”
Las Vegas has become quite the sports town. What are some of the sports you might’ve played if you weren’t a NASCAR driver?
“I’m not the most athletic person, but I have a little bit of grit and determination, which is the only thing that got me through my four years of wresting in high school. I don’t know what I would’ve done. I went to the local junior college and knew I wanted to race and never pursued the wrestling piece of it. I would’ve definitely had to do some things a little bit differently. I was a little guy in high school. I think that worked out OK now, being 46 years old, but I always wanted to race and I have no clue what I would’ve done if I wasn’t driving cars. I started driving go-karts when I was 5 and raced cars when I was 16 and started traveling all over, racing cars or working on the trucks for Wayne and Connie Spears as a mechanic. Racing is all that I’ve known. I have no clue in which direction it would’ve gone if it wasn’t for racing.”
It’s time for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile layout which starts the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Eight playoff drivers have been chopped after six races in the first two rounds and eight drivers remain with several new faces looking for their first NASCAR Cup Championship.
The NextGen car has been bonkers trying to keep up with data and info after 19 different drivers have won in the first 32 races. Six races remain in the Round of 8 with the top scoring drivers from this round getting an invite to Phoenix on November 6 for the Championship 4. Everyone else is racing along the way, but the tension is building weight on all eight eligible drivers.
But I’ve made an impromptu chart for Las Vegas that involves races on recent tracks like Michigan, Darlington, Kansas, and Texas with those four tracks holding more relevance to my liking than the first Las Vegas race in March. Lots of new information for crew chiefs along the way have come about. The more recent success the better.
Here’s a look at what I’m thinking using odds in order of the favorite on down from BetMGM:
SOUTH POINT 400 PICKS & PREDICTIONS
Denny Hamlin (11/2) has dominated the last two fall races at Las Vegas leading the most laps in both, finishing third in 2020 and winning his first Vegas race last season. He was running great in the March race leading 31 laps until a drivetrain issue relegated him to 32nd. The reason he’s deserving of being the favorite here is that he won the Coca-Cola 600 on a 1.5-mile layout, he was runner-up at Darlington’s 1.266-mile layout, and runner-up at Kansas last month. Terrible on the road courses and superspeedways this season with the NextGen car, but awesome at these big horsepower tracks. The next three races in this playoff round are all great tracks for Hamlin. How’s he feeling about it?
“I feel great about all of them,” Hamlin said. “All of them are just perfect for what our strengths are. I’m excited. We have been very strong on the intermediates all year and we tested Homestead a few weeks ago. We had a good test at Martinsville and even though we finished bad there in the spring, I feel good about what we have learned since then. We’re going to have to qualify well there, and track position is going to be huge. It’s time to go to work, but yeah, we’re really excited about our prospects in this next round.”
Chase Elliott (8/1) has never won at Las Vegas in 11 Cup starts, but he was runner-up in this race last season. Three top-fives aren’t too bad. He was ninth in the March race and broke a streak of leading laps in five straight Vegas races. But he is the Cup leader in points and wins (5). He has a knack for having races fall into his hands late.
Christopher Bell (8/1) was 10th in the March Vegas race after leading 32 laps. He's a real title contender and I think he likes this track.
“Vegas is one of my favorite tracks and Joe Gibbs Racing has been strong on the 1.5-mile tracks,” Bell said. “Vegas is one I’ve had circled for awhile and one we can contend for a win, or at least escape there with a good amount of points.”
Kyle Larson (8/1) has won an Xfinity Series race at LVMS in 2018 and he also won the spring race there last season. He also had 10 wins last season. This season, they use the NextGen car and he has only two wins with it. Listen up oddsmakers that keep making him single-digit odds each week. As a book, you can make money by attracting action at double-digit odds. I might bet him at 16-to-1 odds this season and so might a bunch of other bettors. His reputation precedes him and therefore I can’t bet him at dumb odds. New car, everyone!
Tyler Reddick (9/1) has won the last race at a 1.5-mile track at Texas on September 25. He also won a Truck Series race at LVMS in 2016 and he won an Xfinity Series race there in 2019. He’s going to the Hamlin/Jordan ride next year. He has three wins, and he’s eliminated from the playoffs. I think the only thing for him to do is win races in his last four starts for RCR.
It’s so weird knowing I’ve come full circle with Kyle Busch (10/1) at the Las Vegas bullring when he was racing as a teenager who didn’t qualify to get a driver's license yet. He beat everyone. He got noticed. He got signed. Then he found a home at JGR and he’s been there since 2008. His only win at Vegas came in 2009. He has 10 top-fives in 22 Cup starts at Vegas. This will be his last Vegas race with JGR before he drives to No. 8 next season for RCR. He’s always got to feel the pressure racing in front of friends and family in Las Vegas.
“It’s cool to be able to come back home and to have the notoriety, I guess, that we have now,” Busch said. “When we went out there back in those days, there were many other drivers who were way bigger than us and way more popular than us. Now that we’ve been here for a while and those other drivers aren’t there anymore, we’ve kind of upped ourselves on the ladder of that and it’s cool. One of these days, hopefully, there might be a road out there named after us, or a grandstand or something of that nature. Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves because that just means I get closer to retirement if they start doing that, I guess.”
Search around for better odds to win, but I think Ross Chastain (10/1) can do it even though he hasn’t won since Talladega in April. He’s been stuck on two wins for a while. But the good news is that he led the most laps (83) at LVMS in March finishing third. He’s tempered his enthusiasm and aggression, what got him his early wins, and conformed to peer pressure and threats of being punted. It’s worked. He’s third in points and has a great shot here and also Homestead next week. He also won the 2018 Xfinity Series race in Vegas. I’ll have action on him to win.
SOUTH POINT 400 BETTING RESOURCES
Date: Sunday, October 16, 2022 Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Distance: 400.5 miles Laps: 267 Network-Time: NBC - 2:30 p.m. Defending Champion: Denny Hamlin
Martin Truex Jr. (12/1) has won at LVMS in 2017 and 2019 and he’s been running well on these types of tracks like most of the JGR cars this season. He was fifth at Kansas which is a good comparison to Vegas. He was eighth in the March Vegas race.
“Las Vegas has been a great track for us for a long time,” Truex said. “Even with this car in the spring, we were right there in contention for the win until that caution came out at the end. It’s a place we have a lot of confidence going to and we feel good about how we’ve ran at these types of tracks all year, so it should be a good weekend for us.”
Ryan Blaney's (12/1) 11.1 average finish in 12 Cup starts at Las Vegas is fourth best among all active drivers. He should have two Vegas wins, but errored in pit stop strategy and experienced bad luck. He’s got five top-fives. Check out this scenario: he wins this race to qualify for Phoenix and wins a title. It’s his first win of the season and then he wins the championship. That’s a daily double we might want to play. Bet race winner parlayed to championship winner if allowed.
William Byron (12/1) is still alive in the playoffs but he needs a couple of top-fives to advance in the next three races. He was fifth in the spring race, his best LVMS finish in the Cup Series. This is a race he can win, but I can’t bet him at these odds. He’s a wild card against my betting strategy.
Bubba Wallace (14/1) is the reason you might bet him at Las Vegas is that he’s going to have one of the fastest Toyotas in the race. He’s got speed on the 1.5-mile tracks and it's been an adaption of the same races Hamlin, his boss, has had. He won at Kansas last month, and Hamlin was runner-up. Wallace was also runner-up at the big horsepower track of Michigan. I'm searching for better odds but I’ll have a bet on him for sure.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the entire staff at UPMC,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. “Our priority continues to be Alex’s recovery and long-term health, and we will follow the plan that Dr. Collins and his team recommend. We’re not looking past the next three races and will evaluate plans for the season finale (at Phoenix Raceway) as the event approaches.”
Noah Gragson, 24, will be Bowman’s substitute driver Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 23 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway. The Las Vegas native also filled in for Bowman Oct. 2 at Talladega Superspeedway and Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.