LAS VEGAS, NV – How much will this new aero package affect the racing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway? See, Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is met with a ton of uncertainty.
With this being the first true test of the new rules package, will any teams benefit from it?
Last year, the new package was run in the All-Star race. Kevin Harvick, the driver who won the most races out of anyone in 2018 (8) won that race.
So far this season, Atlanta was the first race with a similar package and Brad Keselowski won it. That was his fourth win in the last 15 races, dating back to last season.
For a team like Hendrick Motorsports, they’re hoping this new package brings them back closer to the field again.
The best driver among their four car team in terms of the oddsmakers is 20-1. They’re saying eight drivers are better than him. Chase Elliott though has finished 34th or worse in three of his four Vegas starts. Maybe they’re right. He was only 19th, one lap down last weekend in Atlanta. The Georgia native was only 17th in the Daytona 500.
What about the second best?
33-.1 Yes, that’s what bookkeepers think of HMS right now.
Jimmie Johnson is a four time Vegas winner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010) and he’s 33-1. The reason? He’s only scored two top five finishes in his last nine Vegas starts. He finished 24th, two laps down last weekend in Atlanta.
What if I told you he’s been quick this weekend though? The seven time series champion qualified his No. 48 Chevrolet ninth on Friday.
Both Alex Bowman and William Byron are 66-1 to win this weekend. Bowman, has finished 11th and 15th respectively in 2019 and if he took the green flag a second sooner in qualifying, then he’d be on the pole.
Byron, has struggled this year and at Vegas in the past and will start 20th. Elliott, would have started second with Bowman but his time didn’t count either. Instead, he’ll start 12th, one spot behind Bowman.
In practice on Friday, Elliott was fourth quickest and Byron fifth.
The drafting package is much kinder to HMS than the previous package was. Can they sustain this on Sunday?