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Pennzoil 400: Power Rankings

Stewart-Haas has been running strong this season.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 - Practice Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Since the Yahoo format is no more, I will be adapting this year to a Power Ranking system. The rule I have implemented for myself are:

1.I will not pick a driver more than 10 times this season.

2.Due to #1 these are “Power Rankings” (in quotations) such that I’m not going to be picking Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch every week. I’m looking for value here.

My general format for my power rankings:

•Top 2 picks will generally be the favorites, the ones who should be top 5 or top 10 finishes.

• #3 and #4 will be your riskier picks, could be top 5 or bottom 15.

• Pick #5 is the dark horse.

Race Information

Race: Pennzoil 400

Laps: 267

Date: March 4th

Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

2017 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (2 hours; 56 minutes)

Broadcast: Fox

Course: 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.

Power Rankings

1.) (Favorite) Martin Truex Jr. In the last 3 years at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s early race, Martin has two finishes inside the top 3 spots. The other year? He was 11th. I’m going with Martin as a top 5 lock for the race.

2.) (Favorite) Denny Hamlin is arguably off to the best start of any driver this year with a 3rd place finish at Daytona and a 4th place finish at Atlanta. He also has a good record early at Las Vegas where he finished 6th in 2017 and 5th in 2015. The off year (2016) he was 19th.

3.) (High Risk/Reward) Darrell Wallace Jr. He came in strong in Daytona (thanks partially to a few wrecks) before a much more dismal 32nd place finish last week at Atlanta. I think he rebounds back to a top 10 finish this week in the spot light at Las Vegas.

4.) (High Risk/Reward) Trevor Bayne. The perennial ‘teens’ finisher, Trevor had a great race going for a stint at Atlanta until the wreck. I think he can be a top 10 finisher after a 13th place finish here last year and 17th in 2016. His car is looking very strong in competition right now.

5.) (Dark Horse) Clint Bowyer. Finished 3rd last week, he was 10th here last year as Stewart-Haas vehicles are very competitive now.

2018 Stats

Favorites: Avg Finish 5th (13th percentile)

High Risk/Reward: Avg Finish 23rd (61st percentile)

Dark Horse: Avg Finish 24th (64th percentile)