The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series had two practice sessions around the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Both were the only two times that these drivers had on the race track other than qualifying on Saturday to prepare for Sunday’s South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
While Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch topped the speed charts in single lap speed, I’m not so sure that they’ll have something figured out for the start of Sunday’s race.
Bowyer’s top speed of 178.059 mph in his No. 14 Ford in the first session came on his final lap. He was 17th quick in final practice and only 15th on the 10 lap average chart in final practice too.
Busch’s speed of 177.276 mph in final practice jumped to the top in the end but all practice they were battling a bad race car. Busch even asked during practice if this was even his race car. They couldn’t get it right. At the end, the speed came but he was 23rd in the opening session and just 16th on the 10 lap average in final practice.
I don’t necessarily trust these two either. Bowyer, last top five came in 2009 as his best finish at Vegas since 2013 is 10th. He does have three straight top 10’s on the season but this isn’t a strong track for him.
Busch, finished fifth back in the spring race but he’s finished 20th or worse in five of his last seven Vegas starts overall.
William Byron was quick in the first session chiming in at 177.223 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. That was second. His teammate Jimmie Johnson (177.148 mph) was P3 while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (176.748 mph) and Austin Dillon (176.684 mph) rounded out the top five.
The RCR cars were well represented in the first session being 5-8-11. In final practice, they were 21-23-27.
HMS had 2-3-10 in the first session too.
In final practice, the Penske group shined. Joey Logano (176.783 mph), Brad Keselowski (176.321 mph) and Ryan Blaney (176.114 mph) were second, third and fifth respectively. Chase Elliott (176.223 mph) rounded out the top five in his No. 9 Chevrolet.
After two rounds of practice, I think the Penske cars and Joe Gibbs Racing foursome are the favorites.
Keselowski, was sixth and third respectively on single lap runs and seventh in both sessions on 10 lap averages. Logano, was 13th and second in single lap runs and third in final practice on 10 lap averages. Blaney, was 16th and fifth respectively himself but 11th on the 10 lap average.
What about JGR?
Denny Hamlin was seventh and 12th on single lap and sixth in both practices on 10 lap. Kyle Busch was 14th and sixth respectively and fifth and first on 10 laps. Martin Truex Jr. was 12th and ninth respectively and fourth on the 10 lap while Erik Jones was 19th and 11th respectively and 12th and fourth on the 10 laps.
Kevin Harvick is hot and was seventh on single lap runs in final practice and fifth on the 10 lap averages. Elliott is honestly the only other one to watch as he was 10th and fourth on single lap runs and eighth and second on 10 lap averages.