Column By: SHANE CARLSON / RPW – LAS VEGAS, NV – Everyone not named Kevin Harvick is glad to get out of Atlanta after the clinic he put on last weekend in a dominant win.
There was no one even in Harvick’s zip code Saturday, or Sunday for that matter. For the rest of the field, Las Vegas provides the opportunity to hit the reset button and try to make the gains necessary to beat the Cup regulars who come and play in the XFINITY Series sandbox.
This weekend, four Cup regulars will make the start in the XFINITY Series, and as history states, they will be the favorites when the green flag drops. Outside of the Cup regulars competing Saturday, a dark horse pick to win is Justin Allgaier. The last two years, he has finishes of ninth and fourth, with six top-10s in seven starts at Vegas. The JR Motorsports driver is often overlooked because of all the young and flashy talent the team has produced recently. He’s found a good home with JRM, and is sitting seventh in the standings. Don’t overlook Allgaier this weekend.
Las Vegas is the second intermediate track on the schedule, but totally different than Atlanta Motor Speedway. Unlike Atlanta, the track surface at Las Vegas is smooth, so there’s not a ton of tire falloff. This opens the window for strategy on pit road. Some drivers will probably try and gamble on two tires, or even no tires late in the race to gain track position they may not otherwise have had. It makes for a chaotic scene on pit road with all the differing strategies, but that’s what the crew chiefs get paid for. After all, what’s Las Vegas without a little gambling?
My Pick to Win is…
No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro
Chip Ganassi Racing
In three XFINITY Series starts, Larson owns two top-three finishes. He was third in 2016 and second last year. Larson will be able to drive his No. 42 high, wide, and handsome all the way to Victory Lane on Saturday afternoon. Known for putting his car where other drivers aren’t willing to run, he’ll use the high line to his advantage. Look for Larson to park it in Victory Lane.
Saturday, March 3
4:00 PM ET
Boyd Gaming 300
TV: FOX SPORTS 1
Radio: Performance Racing Network
NASCAR XFINITY Series Power Rankings
- Elliott Sadler: Two top-fives to start the season have Sadler in a familiar spot atop the standings. Last Week: 2
- Tyler Reddick: Coming off a big win at Daytona, the rookie finished 19th. With the pressure of making the playoffs now gone with the win, the best team this team can do is build their notebook, especially on the intermediate tracks which comprise most of the schedule. Last Week: 1
- Ryan Reed: Reed isn’t doing anything flashy out there, but he owns two top-10s in two races. If Reed wants to be more than a superspeedway star, he needs to grind out these intermediates and make the right adjustments throughout the race. Last Week: 3
- Ryan Truex: Much like his demeanor, Truex has quietly scored two top-10s in two starts. It appears Kaulig Racing hasn’t skipped a beat since making a driver switch in the offseason. Last Week: Not Ranked
- Spencer Gallagher: A pair of top-15s have Gallagher inside the top-five in the standings. GMS Racing has good equipment, and it’s taken them some time to expand their program into the XFINITY Series, but this year could produce a win or two. Last Week: Not Ranked