Following the Carmaggedon that was the Daytona 500, the Monster Energy Cup Series finally recovered from that wreckage last Sunday with a superb race in Atlanta, where Brad Keselowski emerged victorious.
This week, we’re headed back to the desert for another installment of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to kick off the “NASCAR Goes West” swing. Can Keselowski pull off back-to-back wins, or will another one of the circuit’s standouts prevail with their first win of the young season? Let’s find out below.
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At 41 years young, Jimmie Johnson is still refusing to drive his illustrious career into the sunset. The soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer has yet another chance to show NASCAR’s young guns how it’s done this Sunday in Vegas, where he has nine top-10 finishes in 15 career starts. Even better, Johnson remains the leader in wins at LVMS amongst active drivers (four), and his 113.4 driver rating on the course is also tops from this week’s field of entrants.
The stars have aligned for Brad Keselowski. Not only is he fresh off a huge win in Atlanta, he’s also won two of the last three editions of the Kobalt 400, with last year’s victory having snapped his then 33-race winless streak. In addition, Keselowski has a superb average finish of third place in his last four starts in Sin City.
Keselowski’s fellow Team Penske rep, Joey Logano, deserves just as much recognition as his teammate indeed. He was the runner-up to Bad Brad last year, and that finish is not a solid one-off performance for him. Logano actually has top-10 finishes in three of four career starts in Vegas, boasting a stellar average of 10.8 at that.
Often overlooked by other more-notable veterans like Jimmie Johnson is Matt Kenseth, who’ll look to conquer the desert track once more as he has done in the past. The 44-year-old Kenseth has three career wins, six top-5s and nine top-10s in Vegas, and he’s also led in 13 of his 17 lifetime starts on the course.
Florida native Aric Almirola took advantage of Daytona’s widespread carnage and nabbed a rare fourth-place finish in front of his home crowd. However, he followed that up with a subpar outing in Atlanta last week, wherein he ended up 27th in the race. This week, you can count on Almirola to hover around a mid-20s finish again, as his average finish in his is last three trips to Vegas is exactly 25th place, and his lifetime average finish on the track is is even worse (29.75 across eight starts).
Logano finally takes his first checkered flag from Sin City.
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