It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s already (points-paying) race #30 of the 2020 season, and the start of Round 2 of the Playoffs. We’ll be crowning a champion in less than two months. But first, the NASCAR Cup Series takes on Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second time this season. We last raced here back in February, and Chase Elliott had the best car all day until a tire issue late. And then Ryan Blaney was in position to win until a late caution happened and the #12 team decided to pit. Many others stayed out, and in the end it was Joey Logano in victory lane. It was an interesting race for sure, and with how races at 1.5-mile tracks have went down this season, don’t be surprised if we have some more craziness in Sin City on Sunday night, too. Kevin Harvick will be on the pole and you can click here for the South Point 400 starting lineup.
I have created a cheat sheet for 1.5-mile tracks and how drivers have performed on them this season. You can view that by clicking here.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Las Vegas 2
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,500) – Some Fantasy NASCAR players might be a little scared to take Martin Truex, Jr. this weekend considering as he is coming off of a 24th-place finish at Bristol last weekend, plus he finished 20th here at Las Vegas when he raced here in February. Don’t be that person. This #19 team has hit their stride in the speed department, and as far as those two aforementioned races, Truex is awful at Bristol, and the end of the race here in February got things all jumbled up with a late caution. MTJ still finished 2nd and 3rd in the Stages in that race. As far as this weekend goes, Truex starts 11th and should be at least a top 5 contender. He won this event last season and also has five top 5s in his last eight Vegas starts, two of which were victories.
Brad Keselowski ($12,200) – There’s “consistency” and then there’s “Brad Keselowski at Las Vegas Motor Speedway consistency.” They are not the same. BK’s career in Sin City started off pretty rough, with four straight finishes of 26th or worse. And then Penske switched to Ford and the #2 crew hasn’t looked back; since the start of 2013–ten races here at Las Vegas–Brad Keselowski hasn’t finished worse than 7th at this track, and he’s also collected two wins along the way. And this weekend, Kez will be starting 12th thanks to his power steering issue at Bristol, so he has place differential potential for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest as well. To me, Brad is a no-brainer Fantasy NASCAR pick in any place differential leagues this weekend.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000) – Penske Racing all around is a solid bet here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and while Ryan Blaney can be super inconsistent when it comes to finishes, he will have the car to come away with a good finish here on Saturday night. Plus, he’s starting back in 15th so he should pick up some Slingshot place differential fantasy points as well. If you remember back to the first race here at Las Vegas this season, Ryan Blaney was leading late when a caution came out and the #12 team decided to pit. He ended up 11th when the checkered flag flew, but should have won. Still, Blaney has the 2nd-best average finish (7.1) on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, and he has three top 5s in his last five Vegas starts. The upside here is worth a roll of the dice in my eyes.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($8,000) – I don’t necessarily love this pick, but with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. starting way back in 33rd, I feel like I have to pick him because the potential is there for a huge Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest score. At Las Vegas, Stenhouse has an up-and-down record, just like he does pretty much anywhere else the Cup Series visits. He got off-sequence on pit stops the last time we raced here and ended up leading 30 laps, and then gambled on the late caution, too, and came away with a 3rd-place finish. That’s Ricky’s second top 10 in the last three Vegas races and his fourth top 15 in the last seven. One word of caution, though: the JTG Daugherty cars have had some amazingly bad luck on 1.5-mile tracks this year–the #47 Chevy has finished 29th or worse in the last three races on this track length–and we all know if the caution comes out on Sunday night that Stenhouse will probably be involved.
John Hunter Nemechek ($6,300) – If Nemechek doesn’t have any major problems in Sin City on Sunday night, he should be able to move up a few spots, or at least not lose any from his starting spot. On the 1.5-mile tracks in 2020, the #38 Ford has actually been a little better than expected, averaging a finish of 21.5 with only one result worse than 24th. Here at Las Vegas back in February, Nemechek started 29th and finished 24th. I’m expected a similar mid-20s performance out of him this weekend.