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NASCAR South Point 400 Picks, Preview

 

NASCAR Cup Series
South Point 400 Picks

Let the quarterfinals begin!

The opening round has been completed and four drivers have been chopped to start NASCAR’s Playoffs.

Now it’s off to the Round of 12 which begins Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile high banked tri-oval. It’s the third straight the South Point 400 has been run in the fall as the second Cup Series date on the LVMS schedule.

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Las Vegas Betting Resources

  • Date: Sunday, September 27, 2020
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The first Vegas race this season was the second points-paying race on the schedule and was won by Joey Logano, his second win in the last three Vegas races.

Here’s a quick reboot of what happened on that day in late February. Logano only won because of a tire compound that didn’t wear as much. He didn’t pit with five laps to go as everyone else did upfront, including leader Ryan Blaney. Staying out with Logano was Matt DiBenedetto finishing second, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. third, Austin Dillon fourth, Jimmie Johnson fifth, and Bubba Wallace sixth.

Almost all of them had their tires hold up. The drivers who pitted underestimated the need for new tires. Logano, who pretended he didn’t hear his crew chief tell him to pit, couldn’t be passed.

The old tires stuck to the asphalt. And those same tires also produced back/back triple-digit payouts with Cole Custer (300/1) winning at Kentucky Speedway and Austin Dillon (100/1) winning the following week at Texas Motor Speedway.

The left-side Goodyear tires will be the same as the Vegas race from February, but the right sides will be a different code to give the drivers more grip.

"Key to making the optimum tire recommendation is the review of all the data that is generated, whether it be from practices throughout a weekend, testing, or as is the only opportunity right now, from the actual races," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.

"What we’ve seen and heard at several of the low-wear tracks, is the Cup cars could stand to have a little more grip, so we have made a step in that direction for Las Vegas, as well as Kansas and Texas. Vegas and Texas shared the same tire set-up at their earlier races, and we brought that same right-side to Kansas as well, so they have been basically aligned all season. They remain so with this new right-side as we enhance the grip level at all three."

NASCAR Cup Odds - Las Vegas

  • Denny Hamlin +450
  • Kevin Harvick +450
  • Martin Truex Jr. +450
  • Joey Logano +700
  • Brad Keselowski +800
  • Kyle Busch +800
  • Chase Elliott +900
  • Kurt Busch +2200
  • Ryan Blaney +2500
  • Jimmie Johnson +2500
  • More NASCAR Futures
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Two of the first three races of the playoffs were won by Kevin Harvick, which makes sense because he came in with a series-leading seven regular-season wins. He’s also got seven of his wins using this week’s race package featuring engines producing 550 horsepower.

This has been his best race package by far this season, but he has also won two of the last three races using the 750 hp package on shorter tracks. The one edge you can roll with if leaving him out of a betting strategy is that he’s only won once on 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta Motor Speedway in June).

The notes I have regarding Harvick from the February Vegas race show he led a race-high 92 laps but speeds would fall off significantly after 20 laps and he also had a tough time passing in traffic. Running up front was where he was the best and fastest. Chase Elliott won the first two stages and led 70 laps before a tire went down to start the final stage.

Handicapping South Point 400

The last time the series raced on a 1.5-mile track was July 23 at Kansas Speedway which was won by Denny Hamlin who led a race-high 57 laps. Harvick would finish fourth.

The Harvick-Hamlin show has produced 11 wins in the 17 races using the 550 hp package. Hamlin also won on the 1.5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after leading a race-high 137 laps. But he didn’t have a top-10 in any of the three Playoffs races, something he doesn’t seem too concerned about.

Back the Chalk?

“We didn’t have the best first round, but now our focus is all in on the Round of 12 and to work toward a championship,’ Hamlin said. “We’ve had fast cars, but there are still areas of improvement that we are working on.”

I’ve invested the largest portion of my NASCAR bankroll this week on Denny Hamlin to win at 6/1 odds despite Las Vegas not being his best track with just two top-fives in 17 races.

“It’s been a tough track for me in the past, but I enjoy the process of trying to get better at places where I haven’t necessarily run well,” Hamlin said. “I’m confident our team will bring a fast FedEx Camry and put us in a good position to win and advance.”

Hamlin has four wins using this week’s race package and has won two of the last four 1.5-mile tracks. It’s his best opportunity to win at Las Vegas in his career.

His teammate Martin Truex Jr. won this race last season, His other teammate, Kyle Busch, coming off his second Cup Championship, still has yet to win this season. He only won at his home track once (2009) in the Cup Series, but he doesn’t put as much stress into winning at home anymore.

“I used to put more stress on myself to win there, no doubt, Busch said regarding pressure to win at home. “I never knew if winning there would happen for me and it’s neat I’ve been able to win in all three series at Vegas. There is stress going into those events. For myself, I was able to get that done in 2009 there at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get into victory lane. That felt good.”

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Despite not having any 2020 wins, only Harvick and Hamlin have more top-five finishes than Busch’s 12 which shows they’ve got speed and are close to breaking through for a win.

“I think we struggle in traffic, that’s our biggest problem,” said Busch. “I can’t get through traffic very well. We kind of saw it at Darlington a few weeks ago. Wherever I single-filed out in a race run is kind of where I ran. There wasn’t much of me going forward or going backward, for that matter. When I got up front and got up to second, I was able to restart with Martin Truex Jr. Truex and I ran really fast, really hard and drove away from the field. Our car had speed. We had the comfort in being upfront and the aero being in second place versus being back in seventh or eighth or whatever it might be. We were able to drive away from the field. That gave me some optimistic measures for things to come and, obviously, our teammates have been starting upfront, they’ve been running up front and they’ve been doing a good job of keeping themselves in the mix as far as all that goes on the intermediate tracks.”

The South Point sportsbook has Kyle Busch posted at 8/1 odds to win, but I’m going to wait and see if I can find a higher price during the weekend somewhere. I do think he’ll have a good run and with the public being down on him with losing bets on him all season, the money pool for the third-most bet most-bet race of the season (Vegas Feb, Daytona 500), the liability should be low on Kyle Busch meaning his odds should be raised.

Vegas Long Shots

Kurt Busch may have the worst home-field advantage of all sports. He’s never won in any series at LVMS. In 21 Cup starts he’s averaged a 22nd-place finish with only two top-fives. He was right on cue with a 25th-place finish in the February Vegas race. The South Point has him listed at 30/1.

Team Penske has won five of the last Las Vegas races, three by Brad Keselowski and two by Logano. Harvick’s SHR teammate Aric Almirola has performed well with this week’s race package.

Austin Dillon started with a runner-up and fourth-place to show he means business in the Playoffs and his RCR teammate Tyler Reddick has been fast at the same time as they finished 1-2 at Texas. Truex has come on strong with this race package in the second half of the season.

So Long 48!

No fans allowed in the stands this week so Jimmie Johnson will again go to a track and leave without fans showing their appreciation. Johnson’s four wins are a track-record and his seven championships were aided by winning on tracks like Las Vegas.

He dominated the cookie-cutter scene over his career. It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Johnson. Las Vegas will miss you. Thank you for the memories and great thrills.

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