2012 NASCAR Kobalt Tools 400
Sunday, March 11, 2012, 2:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas, Nevada
1.5 mile Tri-oval, 20 Degree Banking
Defending Champion: Carl Edwards
All odds courtesy of Bovada
After two races NASCAR makes their annual trip to Las Vegas. The track was reconfigured a few years ago and is much faster as they increased the banking. It makes for some more exciting racing for the fans, but with higher speeds come more dangers. In the last major race at the track in October, the IRL season finale, former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific crash. Of course Indy cars are open wheel and the drivers do not have as much protection as the stock cars used in NASCAR.
Wheldon’s crash will be in the back in the mind of all drivers, but it didn’t stop them from breaking track records during qualifying. Kasey Kahne won the pole with a qualifying speed of 190.456 miles per hour. Here is a complete look at the starting grid. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch both qualified in the top 6 but crashed during practice on Saturday. They will use their back-up cars and start from the back of the field. Here is a look at the contenders and their odds to win courtesy of Bovada.
Kyle Busch (5/1)
Despite the crash, Busch is still the favorite at his hometown track. The Las Vegas native won this race in 2009 and has 3 top fives and 4 top tens here. He has gotten off to a slow start in 2012 but did get a top ten last week at Phoenix. He is #9 in the points standings after 2 races. Busch has the talent to win every race he enters, and is worth a play if he can work through the traffic after staring from the back of the field. He qualified 2nd originally.
Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
Johnson had a disastrous start to the season with a crash on the second lap of the Daytona 500. He ended up finishing 42nd out of 43 cars. To top it off his car failed inspection, and he was docked 25 points. His crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended for 6 races. Johnson rebounded with a top 10 at Phoenix last week. Despite the crash in practice, Johnson is one of the favorites here. He has 4 wins in Las Vegas, including in 2010. Johnson originally qualified sixth for this race. Like Busch, if he can work through traffic, he should be there at the end.
Kasey Kahne (15/2)
Kahne has gotten off to a rocky start in his first year with Hendrick Motorsports with a 26th at Daytona and a 32nd at Phoenix. He won the pole for this race. He has never won at Vegas but does have 4 top tens and 2 top fives at the track. I don’t think Kahne will contend here, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he does.
Kevin Harvick (8/1)
Harvick is third in the points standings with 2 top tens this season and a top five. Harvick also qualified third for the Vegas race. He has never won here but has 4 top 10’s and 3 top 5’s at the track. He was the runner up in the 2010 Las Vegas race. Harvick is one of the most consistent drivers in NASCAR.
Tony Stewart (8/1)
Stewart is the defending Sprint Cup Champion, but has gotten off to a somewhat slow start, with a 16th and a 15th so far. He is 15th in points. He has never won in Vegas but does have 8 top tens and 5 top fives at the track. He was the runner up here last year. Stewart qualified 7th for the race.
Carl Edwards (10/1)
Edwards is the defending champion in this race, his second at the track in his career. He has one additional top 10 finish at the track. He has one top ten finish this season and is tenth in points. Edwards qualified 21st for this race. He could be worth a play.
Jeff Gordon (10/1)
Gordon is in 22nd place in the points, but had a top ten last week at Phoenix. He qualified 16th here for this race. He won this race in 2001, and has 5 other top 5’s and 6 top 10’s at the track. He has top 6 finishes here in 5 of the last 7 years. Gordon could be worth a play at 10/1.
Denny Hamlin (12/1)
Hamlin leads the points race, with a win at Phoenix and a top 5 at Daytona. Hamlin qualified 17th for this race. He has never won at Las Vegas, but does have 4 top tens and a top five. Hamlin is my pick to win the race.
Matt Kenseth (12/1)
Kenseth won the Daytona 500 earlier this season. He finished in 13th at Phoenix last week, and is fourth in points. Kenseth has won this race twice in 2003 and 2004. He has 5 top 5’s and 6 top 10’s in his career at Las Vegas. Kenseth qualified 11th for the race. Kenseth is worth a play and is my my pick to win.
Greg Biffle (15/1)
Biffle has two top fives already this season. He is in second place in the points standings. Biffle qualified 9th at Las Vegas. He has never won at Las Vegas but does have a top 5 and 4 top tens in his career.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (18/1)
Earnhardt was the runner up at Daytona, and finished 14th at Phoenix. He is 5th in the points. He hasn’t won in several years. He qualified 4th at Las Vegas. He has never won at Las Vegas but does have 2 top fives, and 5 top tens. Earnhardt is easily the most popular driver in NASCAR and once he does win and finally break his long drought it will be a momentous occasion. I just don’t think it will happen this week.
Brad Keselowski (20/1)
Keselowski finished 5th at Phoenix last week. He is 12th in the points, and qualified 20th for Las Vegas. He has never finished higher than 26th at this track before.
Clint Bowyer (25/1)
Bowyer is 17th in points this season. He finished 11th at Daytona and 30th last week. Bowyer qualified 5th for the Vegas race. He was the runner up here in 2009 and had another top 10 in 2010.
Here is a look at the complete odds for every driver. It should be an exciting race.