Fantasy Auto Racing:
What: Kobalt 400
When: March 12th
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
2016 Winner: Brad Keslowski
I will follow Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing where you pick 2 A Racers, 4 B Racers and 2 C Racers. As such I will pick one from A, 2 from B and 1 from C (as if they were your starters) along with one Dark Horse pick.
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Built as a road course with a drag strip in 1972. It was later purchased by Richie Clyne and morphed into the current track in 1996. The 1.5 mile asphalt oval has banking turns of 20 degrees with a front and backstretch of 9 degrees. The track itself has seen success in ratings and revenue brought in. So much so that it will be taking the race from New Hampshire in 2018.
Joey Logano. Quite simply his recent success plus his history of success at the Kobalt 400.
Last 2 races:
Daytona 500: Started 15th; Ended 6th.
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500: Started 6th, Ended 6th
Last 3 years:
2016 - 2nd
2015 - 10th
2014 - 4th
This story tells me he's as sure as one can be for a top ten lock with a strong argument for top 5 and I like those odds. Brad Keslowski should be the odds on favorite with 2 wins over the last 3 years coupled with his win at the Folds of Honor Quiktrip win but I like Logano to emerge in a better finishing spot.
Kasey Kahne. I feel like he is flying under the radar for most people right now. He has a long and solid track record at the Kobalt 400 with two top ten finishes in the last 3 years. Add in his 7th place finish at Daytona (despite starting 26th) and his 4th place finish at Folks of Honor (despite starting 29th). His qualifying races are garbage but what he's doing brilliantly is working his way up the pack in the final 10-20 laps of these racers while mental lapses are causing other groups to falter. This track requires adjustments and his crew has stood out ahead of the rest in terms of making adjustments mid race.
Ryan Newman. Unlike the top two racers, Newman has not had a great 2017 campaign so far. At Folds of Honor he started 2nd before battery issues slowed him considerably causing him to finish 35th. He has a few things going for him at Kobalt 400. He is 8th among active lap leaders at Las Vegas leading in four races and finishing in the top ten in both 2014 and 2015. Despite starting 21st, he finished 13th last year showing he knows how to rise up the pack (earning additional points here vs. other points which concentrate more on laps led). Finally, he had one of the fastest cars at Folds of Honor and his qualifying races coupled with his start to the race proved he has some powerful wheels at his disposal right now.
Erik Jones. I'm doubling down but I am cautious. He had a rough race at Daytona and a great race at Atlanta. I think long term he will be a great but I could see a struggle at Las Vegas as this will be his first race at the top level here. Last year in Xfinity he finished third so I know he CAN race here, but doing it at the top level is a different animal. He has the highest ceiling amongst the C-League drivers for this race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He has been average so far this season with a 31st place finish at Daytona and a 13th place finish at Folds of Honor. He doesn't have an amazing track record here finishing on average 22nd over the last 3 years but the two things he has going for him - 1. He has improved speeding penalties through pit row which has been plaguing a lot of racers lately. 2. I trust in Roush-Fenway Racing with Trevor Bayne and Ricky both having decent qualifiers over the first two races. 3. He's comfortable and loose. Look at his recent posts with girlfriend Danica Patrick and his comments after both races. I think that will pay dividends in high tension Vegas race.