The 1.5-mile race tracks used to dominate the NASCAR schedule, but with the recent shuffling around, they’re actually kind of few and far between. This weekend the Cup Series is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the South Point 400 on Sunday night to kick off the second round of this year’s Playoffs. We haven’t raced at a 1.5-mile track since the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte back in May, and this will be just the fourth race on the “lower wear” 1.5-milers this season. Kyle Larson won the first Vegas race this year and he’s on the pole this weekend. The question is, can anyone beat him?

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How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at this week’s track specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.

Before We Get To The Algorithm Results…Thoughts On A Couple Drivers

William Byron and Chase Elliott racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski close behind
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey | Getty Images

William Byron – Willy B has significant upside this weekend despite his 10th-place ranking by the algorithm. Looking at races in the 550hp package this year, Byron has posted a podium finish in three of the nine, and would have two victories if NASCAR didn’t throw the caution for some rain in Michigan last month. Addition, Byron has the 2nd-best average running position in this package (7.2) and the 3rd-best average finish (8.1). Here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, William has struggled to finish and has just two top 10 finishes in his seven career starts. He’s finished inside the top 10 in seven of the last eight Stages, though, and has led in four of the last five events at this track.

Michael McDowell – This #34 Ford suddenly turned into a back marker car over the summer, but the South Point 400 on Sunday evening could be exactly what this team needs to get back in their “solid finish” range. This season in the 550hp package, Michael McDowell actually ranks 16th-best in average finish over the nine races (17.3) and 20th-best in average running position (19.3). Additionally, McDowell came home 17th here in the first Las Vegas race this season as well as 13th at Kansas and 20th at Charlotte. The algorithm has him ranked 28th this weekend but there’s more potential there than that.


Las Vegas South Point 400 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

1.Larson, Kyle40.96
2.Hamlin, Denny38.52
3.Blaney, Ryan38.29
4.Busch, Kyle38.20
5.Elliott, Chase35.50
6.Truex, Jr., Martin33.19
7.Harvick, Kevin33.12
8.Keselowski, Brad30.69
9.Logano, Joey30.54
10.Byron, William30.50
11.Bowman, Alex28.40
12.Bell, Christopher25.19
13.Dillon, Austin23.22
14.Busch, Kurt22.86
15.Reddick, Tyler22.61
16.Chastain, Ross17.05
17.DiBenedetto, Matt11.79
18.Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky08.59
19.Buescher, Chris07.52
20.Almirola, Aric-08.50
21.Briscoe, Chase-11.65
22.Wallace, Bubba-15.70
23.Suarez, Daniel-17.82
24.Newman, Ryan-20.95
25.Custer, Cole-21.15
26.Jones, Erik-22.00
27.Preece, Ryan-26.67
28.McDowell, Michael-27.01
29.LaJoie, Corey-27.88
30.Alfredo, Anthony-30.91
31.Haley, Justin-31.06
32.Ware, Cody-35.08
33.McLeod, BJ-35.72
34.Smithley, Garrett-38.13
35.Houff, Quin-38.38
36.Yeley, JJ-39.50
37.Gase, Joey-40.13
38.Bilicki, Josh-42.27
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.