I have no doubt in my mind that one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff drivers will win Sunday’s South Point 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s pretty much a given. The bigger storyline though will be who among the 16 drivers can finish well.
Out of the playoff eligible drivers, a majority of them have struggled in the past on the 1.5-mile Nevada track. Denny Hamlin has just one top five finish in his last 11 Vegas starts. He’s also led a total of 14 combined laps there. Clint Bowyer has led 17 laps during his NASCAR career in Las Vegas and also has just one top 10 finish over his last six Vegas starts. His last top five finish came all the way back in 2009. His teammate Aric Almirola finished 10th in March but that was his lone top 10 in 10 Vegas tries. Another SHR driver in Kurt Busch may be hot on the season but he’s been cold at Vegas. He’s finished 30th or worse in each of his last two starts and has a best finish of ninth over his last 12 starts at his home track in general.
The Chevrolet playoff drivers with the exception of Kyle Larson have struggled too. Even Larson who’s had two straight top three finishes at Vegas has never led a lap in Cup competition on the track. Alex Bowman has never finished on the lead lap in Vegas in three starts. Chase Elliott has two finishes of 34th or worse in three tries and too has never led a lap. Jimmie Johnson’s last four finishes are 41st, 3rd, 11th and 12th respectively. Austin Dillon has led two total laps with four of his six starts seeing him finish 16th or worse.
So, who can improve upon those stats and finish well will have a leg up in the playoff standings.
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