LAS VEGAS, NV – Poll anyone in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage on Friday and they’ll tell you that the best cars at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on this day belonged to the Richard Childress Racing camp.
In Friday’s lone practice session, they were 1-2. Austin Dillon was P1 with his rookie teammate of Daniel Hemric being second.
Later on in the day, they looked to be the class of the field in qualifying too. But, they only mustered the fourth (Dillon) and fifth (Hemric) fastest laps in the third and final round.
Pole sitter Kevin Harvick acknowledged that the best car (Dillon) didn’t win the pole like he should have. That’s all because of this new aero package. See, the Cup cars went from 750 to 550 horsepower. The tapered spacers and aero ducts will reduce horsepower but create way more drag. Then, factor in a larger spoiler which adds downforce and you get a completely different race than we’ve seen in years past.
When you have a drafting package though and allow all the cars to qualify in a group still, you get chaos. See, it’s not about pure speed anymore. Everyone is flat out. The cars are faster in a draft than by themselves.
Dillon and Hemric were quick by themselves but that doesn’t do the trick in qualifying. You need a dancing partner and the right real estate on the track to maximize it.
Harvick and the two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s were in the right spot. RCR, just barely missed it.
Now, qualifying is one thing, racing is another. Can their qualifying pace translate over well in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)?
In final practice, they were 1-2 again. Dillon was first, Hemric second.
They’re winning the weekend so far. Maybe they can win the race on Sunday too.
Dillon, won the Daytona 500 last year in a drafting package. He’s typically a good racer in these aero setups. The North Carolina native finished 13th and 11th respectively last year in Vegas. In the XFINITY Series, the best example of what to see, Dillon finished in the top 12 in all six tries including a win and two fifth place finishes in three of his last four starts. He’s also won a Truck Series race in Vegas too.
Hemric, was laps away from a top five last weekend in Atlanta. Unfortunately, his tire blew blowing a chance at a really good finish. This weekend, he has good speed in his No. 8 Chevrolet. In the past in Vegas, he finished sixth in the XFINITY Series race last March and sixth and second respectively in the Trucks Series.
This is a sleeper group to watch. This is Vegas. It’s a betting city. Dillon, is 50/1 while Hemric is 100/1. With their speed, it’s a no brainer.