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NASCAR: Las Vegas 400 Race Preview

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Ineke Lavers

Credit: Matt Sullivan via Getty Images

After one of the most electrifying races in recent NASCAR history, the field will fly across America to the city nicknamed the desert oasis: Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Who can make the big gamble, the big leap of faith for the win? Will it be the Chevrolet Camaros, who won the opening two races of the season, continuing their hot streak? Will it be the Toyota Camrys, who have been very quiet ever since the start of the season? Or might it be the Mustangs, who have let wins slip out of their fingers due to late drama in superspeedways, and are looking for a comeback? 

Atlanta 400 Race Debrief

Credit: David Yeazell via USA TODAY Sports

The weekend started off with Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsport taking pole position over the likes of Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and teammate Todd Gilliland. He led the field at the start, but the lead was short lived after Busch passed the Mustang down the inside.

Immediately after, a big crash ensued with 19 cars involved, bringing out the caution flag. 

The rest of the stage saw two cautions, one caused by Chris Buescher and the other by Denny Hamlin. The stage ended up with McDowell right back in front, winning stage one.

Stage two saw less drama than stage one, with only one caution flag brought out at the end of the stage due to a crash from Logano, Buescher, and Hamlin. After the caution flag was brought out, Austin Cindric of Penske cruised to the stage win. 

Stage three started off with a quick caution after Busch moved up the track and tagged Kaz Grala, causing Grala to lose control and fall all the way to the back of the field. Later on, a mistimed bump draft from Ross Chastain spun out Chase Elliot, bringing out yet another caution flag. 

The race restarted on lap 205, but the green flag racing was short lived, as Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Corey LaJoie collided after Keselowski lost control on the entry of turn three. Later, at lap 241, Chase Briscoe made an aggressive move down the back straight which proved to be ill-advised, flaring sideways and taking out Hamlin, Josh Berry, Harrison Burton, and Justin Haley, bringing out the first red flag of the season. 

After a late and final caution of the race, Daniel Suarez led the way on the restart but was soon overtaken by Blaney. However, on the final lap of the race, Blaney, Busch, and Suarez went three wide from the turn to the finish line, with Suarez winning by a fine margin of 0.003 seconds.

Track Preview

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a race track located in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The track is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres) long, with 20 degrees of banking on each turn. With the special tri-oval shape, the straights have a nine degree banking. 

The track has hosted races since 1998, and also hosts a second race that occurs during the playoffs which began in 2018. The field will run 267 laps around the track, with 80 laps in stages one and two and 107 laps in the final stage.

Las Vegas will be the first intermediate track of the season, which also means we will be moving away from the bump draft racing we’ve witnessed for the past two races. Cars will no longer be required to run restrictor plates, so these cars can run up to their full power, and we will see which teams and manufacturers have an edge over their fierce competitors.

Weather forecasts show that there will be little to no precipitation, but the temperatures will be relatively low, so tire temperatures could be an interesting storyline. 

The race will commence on March 3rd, 15:30 ET (12:30 PT, 21:30 CET).

Credit: Sam Morris via Las Vegas News Bureau

Race Prediction

After two consecutive heartbreakers for the Fords, they will be aiming for a quick comeback sooner rather than later. 

Blaney missed out on the win by a mere 0.003 seconds after the Fords dominated the race from start to finish. Blaney, Logano, Cindric, McDowell and Gilliland all had moments leading the field, but unfortunate circumstances took them out of contention. They need a win, and that win has to come soon. 

They seem to have more raw speed than the other two manufacturers, winning pole in both Daytona and Atlanta. An intermediate track might be the exact place where they could shine the most, no longer confined by restrictor plates for superspeedway races. Their job would, however, be much easier if the Chevys weren't standing in their way to success.

Two races into the season, the Chevrolet has been on fire, with six drivers in the top ten of the driver’s standings. Drivers like Busch, Byron, and Chastain have been some of the most consistent performers so far. This has been the perfect start to the season, and they will be looking to extend the winning streak. 

As winners of the race for the past three years, Chevrolet are projected to easily cruise past the field. The prediction is that one of the Chevy drivers might take victory lane once again, beating the Fords and the Toyotas for the third consecutive time.


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