NASCAR fans and competitors expected things to get back to normal last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway after opening the season with consecutive upsets. Alas, it didn't happen as William Byron stole the show and produced a third straight surprise winner.
Will the top NASCAR stars finally rise back to the top this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway? Or will another surprise winner continue to shake up the standings and turn the sport on its head?
Also Read: NASCAR at Las Vegas betting odds
Favorites in NASCAR race at Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a city of bright lights, big stages and sports books, and if history repeats itself, the biggest NASCAR stars will indeed shine again. Las Vegas Motor Speedway has not produced a single legitimate upset in its 22-year history in the NASCAR Cup Series. The only winner that could even be considered a mild surprise was Kurt Busch, who won on his home track for the first time last September.
The other active winners are among the biggest NASCAR stars. Brad Keselowski leads the way with three wins, while Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. have two wins each. Logano won this race last March after Harvick led a race-high 92 laps. Denny Hamlin led 121 laps before finishing third in September, followed by Truex in fourth. Harvick, Logano, Hamlin and Truex are all in the top five in driver rating at Las Vegas in the past three years.
Look for those teams and their respective NASCAR Cup teams and organizations to lead the way again.
Who will be the top challengers at Las Vegas?
Kurt Busch won the last NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas, taking advantage of late pit strategy to notch in 32nd career victory. Busch has gotten off to a strong start this season with two top-10s and could contend again on his home track.
William Byron was dominant in the second half of last week's NASCAR race at Homestead, a similar 1.5-mile track, and could carry that momentum to Las Vegas. Byron and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman are all in the top 12 in driver rating at Las Vegas over the past three seasons. Also keep an eye on Ryan Blaney, who is off to a rough start this season but has three top-fives and six top-10s in his last eight NASCAR Cup races at Las Vegas.
Who is the NASCAR wild card pick for Las Vegas?
Kyle Larson, 28, has six career victories and the best ride of his career at Hendrick Motorsports. He also has a sterling record at Las Vegas with three top-five finishes, including two runnerups.
Larson was a contender last week at Homestead, finishing fourth. He excels on 1.5-mile tracks and could bag his first win for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend.
Who are the dark horses at Las Vegas?
Last week we picked second-year driver Tyler Reddick in this spot, and he finished second at Homestead. Reddick could be in contention again. Like Larson, he excels on 1.5-mile tracks where he can run the high line and use different grooves.
Reddick has finished 18th and 38th (a crash) in his only two Cup starts at Las Vegas, but he won in his last Xfinity Series start at the track. Don't be surprised if Reddick is up front battling for the lead again this weekend.
Another NASCAR driver to keep an eye on his Matt DiBenedetto. The driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, DiBenedetto has gotten off to a terrible start this season (34th in points), but he finished second in both Las Vegas races last year. This is a good week for him to turn things around.
NASCAR Las Vegas Predictions
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