Preview: South Point 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Who will be the first driver ever to win a Cup Series playoff race at the scorching Nevada track? 

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has descended on Sin City for the first playoff race of the 2018 season. The South Point 400 contest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is not only the first in a run of 10 races for the elimination-style playoffs to crown NASCAR’s newest champion, but it also commemorates the first time that the Cup Series will race at the track twice in one year. Kevin Harvick drove away as the race winner when the series visited the 1.5-mile oval in March, but who will be able to find the same spark in the hot temperatures during September?

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 15
1:00 p.m - 1:50 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App (Follow live)
3:30 p.m.- 4:20 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App (Follow live)

Sunday, Sept. 16
South Point 400: (Follow live)
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Time: Approximately 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

Trackside Live
11:30 a.m.: Q & A and games with NASCAR drivers
Press Pass: (Watch live)
6:00 p.m. ET: Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race broadcast


Starting Lineup

Rank, Driver, Car, Speed in MPH

1. Erik Jones, Toyota, 188.121
2. Joey Logano, Ford, 188.101
3. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 187.624
4. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 187.402
5. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 187.396
6. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 187.084
7. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 186.735
8. Kurt Busch, Ford, 186.483
9. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 186.374
10. Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 186.098
11. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 185.950
12. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 183.125
13. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 186.619
14. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 186.599
15. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 186.580
16. Aric Almirola, Ford, 186.548
17. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 186.509
18. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 186.483
19. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 186.451
20. Paul Menard, Ford, 186.432
21. William Byron, Chevrolet, 186.400
22. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 185.861
23. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 185.644
24. Michael McDowell, Ford, 184.913
25. Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 185.185
26. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 184.938
27. David Ragan, Ford, 184.723
28. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 184.660
29. A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 184.603
30. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 184.231
31. Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 182.815
32. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 180.662
33. Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 180.584
34. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 180.337
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 179.976
36. J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 179.432
37. Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 178.283
38. B.J. McLeod, Ford, 177.538
39. Timmy Hill, Toyota, 176.085
40. Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet

Past 10 Winners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

(Year, Driver, Manufacturer)

2009, Kyle Busch, Toyota
2010, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2011, Carl Edwards, Ford
2012, Tony Stewart, Chevrolet
2013, Matt Kenseth, Toyota
2014, Brad Keselowski, Ford
2015, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
2016, Brad Keselowski, Ford
2017, Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota
2018, Kevin Harvick, Ford

The first Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was on March 1, 1998, won by Mark Martin. Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four wins at the 1.5-mile oval. 

Playoff Drivers at Las Vegas*:

(Driver, Races, Win, Top-Fives, Top-10s, Pole Positions)

Kyle Busch, 14, 1, 6, 7, 2
Kevin Harvick, 18, 2, 5, 8, 0
Martin Truex, Jr., 13, 1, 3, 5, 0
Brad Keselowski, 10, 2, 4, 6, 1
Clint Bowyer, 13, 0, 1, 4, 0
Joey Logano, 10, 0, 3, 6, 1
Kurt Busch, 17, 0, 1, 4, 2
Chase Elliott, 3, 0, 1, 1, 0
Ryan Blaney, 4, 0, 1, 3, 1
Erik Jones, 2, 0, 0, 1, 0
Austin Dillon, 6, 0, 1, 1, 0
Kyle Larson, 5, 0, 2, 3, 0
Denny Hamlin, 13, 0, 2, 6, 0
Aric Almirola, 10, 0, 0, 1, 0
Jimmie Johnson, 17, 4, 6, 9, 0
Alex Bowman, 3, 0, 0, 0, 0

* Data according to Racing-Reference.com

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 14: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Series South Point Hotel and Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 14, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Who’s Hot in the Desert?

Kyle Busch returns to his hometown of Las Vegas with an impressive six wins and the title of 2018 regular season champion. Thanks to two more top-fives and one fewer DNF during the regular season, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver edged out Stewart-Haas veteran Kevin Harvick, who enters the playoffs with seven wins. Both drivers, along with Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, have shown no signs of letting up as NASCAR runs its first playoff race in Las Vegas. Will one of these three drivers be good enough to claim the checkered flag at the end of the South Point 400? 

What about Martin Truex Jr.? The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion will start the playoffs with four wins, and as he looks to end his tenure at Furniture Row Racing on a high note, he'll surely have the motivation to piece together a successful drive. There has been little talk of NASCAR’s Big Three in the last few weeks, but one of them will inevitably get hot when the money's on the line.

Kyle Busch, who has won one race at LVMS, and Harvick, who has two wins at the oval, lead the Cup Series in playoff points. Keselowski, a two-time Cup winner at the venue, is entering the playoffs with back-to-back race wins and is peaking at the right time. Truex Jr. also has a Las Vegas win to his name. 

“Going to Vegas, it’s not one of my best racetracks, for some reason,’’ Busch said. “I’ve won there before, but it was a long time ago. We finished second earlier this year…Thankfully, with our season and our success that we’ve had with the 18 team, we’ve got that point cushion.”