Preview: 2018 Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in March at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the first on NASCAR's West Coast swing.

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The weather in Las Vegas this time of year is predictable—it’s cold. The high is typically somewhere between 50-60 degrees. Cold temperatures and wind gusts aren’t exactly the ideal conditions for a stock car race, but it’s what the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is shaping up to be.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of braving the desert heat on a sunny 110 degrees’ day in the summer, you’ll agree that 50 degrees is cold for Las Vegas. Unlike the first race of the season, the unpredictable Daytona 500, or the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which offers a lot of uncertainty because of the old surface, the first “NASCAR Goes West” race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway should provide us with a view of what is to come the rest of the season.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Pennzoil Ford, drives through the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 400.5-mile Pennzoil 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race presented by Jiffy Lube is the first of two Cup races that the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host this year. “We’ve waited a long time to be able to host two major NASCAR event weekends at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and to see the official dates on the schedule is exciting for everyone here at the speedway and in our community,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President, Chris Powell. 

NASCAR’s National Series has been racing at the speedway in the month of March since 1998. With the addition of the second race in Las Vegas, fans will have a chance to experience two different types of races thanks to the extreme Las Vegas heat in September which will produce entirely different track conditions. For now, here is what you need to know about the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race in Viva Las Vegas this year.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Kevin Harvick (4) Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion during a press conference on Stratosphere Pole day for the NASCAR Pennzoil 400 race weekend on March 2, 2018, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Weekend Schedule at The Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube (Follow live)

The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway 

The Date: Sunday, March 4

The Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV: FOX, 3:00 p.m. EST

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 80), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on lap 267)

Press Pass (Watch live)
Charlotte Motor Speedway announcement: 2:15 p.m. EST
Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race: 6:30 p.m. EST

 

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, gets into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Starting Line-up

(Position, Driver, Manufacturer, Best Speed)

1. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 191.489 mph
2. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 190.248 mph
3. Kurt Busch, Ford, 190.067 mph
4. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 189.980 mph
5. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 189.447 mph
6. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 189.175 mph
7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 189.148 mph
8. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 189.102 mph
9. Erik Jones, Toyota, 188.719 mph
10. Joey Logano, Ford, 188.640 mph
11. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 188.469 mph
12. Paul Menard, Ford, 188.442 mph
13. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 188.838 mph
14. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 188.712 mph
15. Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.607 mph
16. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.442 mph
17. William Byron, Chevrolet, 188.363 mph
18. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 187.865 mph
19. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 187.846 mph
20. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 187.441 mph
21. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 187.305 mph
22. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 187.246 mph
23. David Ragan, Ford, 187.162 mph
24. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 186.413 mph
25. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.650 mph
26. Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 187.546 mph
27. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 186.916 mph
28. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 186.335 mph
29. Aric Almirola, Ford, 186.123 mph
30. Cole Custer, Ford, 185.982 mph
31. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 185.312 mph
32. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 185.027 mph
33. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 183.418 mph
34. Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 182.272 mph
35. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 179.241 mph
36. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 176.292 mph
37. Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 173.628 mph

Past 10 Winners at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

(Year and Driver)

2008 Carl Edwards

2009 Kyle Busch

2010 Jimmie Johnson

2011 Carl Edwards

2012 Tony Stewart

2013 Matt Kenseth

2014 Brad Keselowski

2015 Kevin Harvick

2016 Brad Keselowski

2017 Martin Truex Jr.

What You Need To Know

 Everything is a gamble in Las Vegas. The 37 drivers entered into the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be rolling the dice when the green flag drops. Although you can rarely beat the odds in Sin City, Ryan Blaney has put himself in position by capturing his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup pole in Las Vegas. Along with last week’s Cup race winner, Kevin Harvick, he will start on the front row. Harvick’s last Cup win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was in 2015.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch climbs into his car during practice for the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV.

Las Vegas Natives

The hometown favorites, Kurt and Kyle Busch will start from third and thirteenth positions respectively. Kyle Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race already this weekend, but his dreams of sweeping the weekend were foiled thanks to a bad pit stop in the Xfinity race. Kurt, who has two top-10 finishes at Las Vegas, has never won a NASCAR Cup race on his home track. The closest he came to a win was a third-place finish in 2005. He did sit on the pole at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2010 and 2016.

Winners

NASCAR Cup champions Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. have both won in Las Vegas. Truex Jr. rolled into Victory Lane one year ago and the only difference is, Truex Jr. is coming off his championship year, while Mr. 7x, as in seven-time champion, is picking up this season where he left off last year. Johnson is off to a rough start. He has not had a top-20 finish in the first two races of this season and he didn’t have a top-20 finish in the last three contests for 2017 either.

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HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 24: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #98 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford, talks to Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Ford, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway,

Young Ones

As NASCAR veterans try to get that old thing back, all eyes will be on NASCAR’s young guns.  It should be interesting to see how Bubba Wallace Jr. performs now that some of the hype is over, or what pole-sitter Ryan Blaney will do. Kyle Larson, who is somewhere between a young gun and a veteran driver, definitely seems to be ready and in position to notch another Cup Series win to his belt if his dominant win in the Xfinity Series race is any indication.

Cole Custer will make his Cup debut behind the wheel of the No. 51 Haas Automation Ford for Rick Ware Motorsports. He will start on the 15th row from the 30th position. Custer, who drives the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, said: “I’m excited to see what we can do.”