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Everything you need to know for Sunday’s 12th Round Opening Race and 30th NASCAR Cup Series Cash Event of the 2021 season.
Or: Las Vegas, Nevada
Green flag: 7:19 p.m. ET
Grand Marshal: Dana White, UFC President
Television / Radio: NBCSN / NBC Sports app, PRN, NASCAR SiriusXM radio
Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 93 degrees. Wind southeast 5 to 9 mph, according to NOAA.gov
Race distance: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Steps: 80 | 160 | 267
Pit road speed: 45 mph
Attention car speed: 55 mph
Las Vegas 101: Get the whole truth
Starting composition: see the full composition
Stall Missions: See Who Stops Where | Expert breaks down pit selections
Five to watch
Here are five great stories we’ll be following at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
1. The opening of the round of 16 sets the stage for the remainder of the playoffs, especially with a trip to the Talladega Superspeedway looming in a week’s time. With a poor finish in Las Vegas, any driver in the playoffs can falter on the elimination line, even the favorites. Whichever driver wins this race, he has the luxury of knowing it’s one lap away from fighting for a championship in Phoenix. Based on the history of the track, the pilots of the Penske team Joey logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan blaney could have an advantage. Since 2014, drivers with the organization have finished in the top 10 in 86% of races (25 of 29) and have managed to win five of the last 11. The usual favorites, namely Kyle larson, will probably have a say. But don’t sleep on Penske’s horses, as they seek to fight their way into the title race.
2. Does the Kevin harvic vs. Chase Elliott saga over? Or is it just starting? Only time will tell. After a late break-in that led to an altercation in the pits, the two title contenders might be wary of each other on the track this weekend in Las Vegas. Neither driver can really afford to lose valuable points at this point in the playoffs, with Elliott in sixth and Harvick below the elimination line in 12th. But if the tensions resurface this weekend, we might see someone rolling the dice. Prepare your popcorn.
3. Did Hendrick Motorsports regain his momentum in the playoffs? After Joe Gibbs Racing Denny hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. erupted in the first round with victories on two of the three tracks, the questions started to come from the HMS group. Alex Bowman and Guillaume Byron fought valiantly to escape elimination in the Bristol Night Race, each doing so in impressive ways. Now the focus is on a 1.5 mile, superspeedway and road course. Every track should prove favorable for the bow ties at HMS, led by the points leader Kyle larson. All eight drivers from both organizations compete in the Round of 12. With only eight spots left for the next round, will a team leave Las Vegas with a clear advantage?
4. All but one Las Vegas races since 2014 have been won by a driver currently in the round of 16. Kurt busch – who was knocked out in this year’s round of 16 – shocked the field with an unlikely victory in front of his hometown crowd last season. Behind him? Matt DiBenedetto, who completely missed this year’s playoffs, in the finalist position. A non-playoff winner takes away a chance for a playoff driver to lock in the next round, which means a more difficult challenge for drivers near the elimination line to make their way through. Erik Jones was the top non-elimination rider in the March race. He finished 10th. Watch out for the underdogs still competing for track trophies and momentum for next season.
5. After an opening roller coaster ride for the NASCAR playoffs – a fourth place finish at Richmond Raceway, sandwiched between two finishes of 25th or worse – the question deserves to be asked. Can Chase Elliott repeat as Cup Series champion this season? He currently enters the round of 12 in sixth place, eight points above the elimination line. The concern is that we are heading for one of its most unfavorable tracks. He has three consecutive 13th or worse finishes and a DNF trio in nine career starts in Las Vegas. We haven’t seen any back-to-back champions in the first series since Jimmie Johnson had five consecutive wins from 2006-10. The good news for Elliott fans is that we’ve seen Driver # 9 play. back to the wall several times. And there is a road course in this tour. Full playoff schedule.
The essentials of race day
Our biggest pieces of the week – wrap up for race day from all angles.
• Power classifications: Will Alex Bowman sneak up to the knockout stages? | Latest rankings
• Overview of the paint scheme: Sparkling Programs for Sin City | See them here
• Impulse of the playoffs: 12 set round after Bristol | Full breakdown
• Debate: Steve Letarte Says Kyle Larson’s ‘Firepower’ Will Surpass Denny Hamlin | Listen to his case
• Bubble watch: Kevin Harvick ignites – there is still work to be done | See the distribution of bubbles
• Fantastic Fastlane: A Ryan Blaney bargain in Las Vegas? | Top plays, sleepers
• Analysis: Round of 12 distribution track by track | See here
Get in on the action
Think you know NASCAR? Test your courage with play, fantasy.
• What are the chances?: Betting odds for Las Vegas | See them here
• Paris NASCAR: Impact of Brad Keselowski’s departure | Read more
• Sports betting 101: Finding Value in the Betting Market Watch and learn how
• Let’s talk about the playoffs: How Fantasy Live Play For The Playoffs Works | Read more
• On the grid: Make Your Playoff Grid ™ Challenge Choices Before Las Vegas | Choose now
• No risk, big reward: Try to win cash prizes with the free Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
• Play LIVE: Complete Guide to NASCAR Fantasy Live 2021 | Get the FAQ
Souvenirs from Las Vegas
Ahead of the Cup Series races in Las Vegas for the second time this season, take a look back at the track’s history.
• All-time winners: Las Vegas Auto Circuit | See the list
• Top 10: Tours conducted at Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Who led the most?
• Remember when: Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton put on a show for the ages | Watch the Replay of Las Vegas Xfinity Series 2007
• Last year: Kurt Busch puts on a show for the hometown crowd | Full recap of the race
• Memorable moments in Las Vegas: Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs out of gas | Relive the moments
Powerful statistics relevant to the race, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
• Four drivers have finished in the top 10 in all three playoff races at this point: Denny hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle larson and Kevin harvic.
• Kyle larsonplayoff points are more than second and third combined.
• Each driver for Penske team finished in the top 10 at the Las Vegas race in March.
• Matt DiBenedetto has finished second in two of the last three races in Las Vegas.
• The winner of stage 2 in Las Vegas has won six of the last eight races with stages.
Catch the package
Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
• Towards the Moon: NASCAR Launches On Social Community Platform Discord | Join now
• Fine for five: Five teams hit with violations after Bristol | Penalty report
• Happy, barely: Kevin Harvick retains advantage over long list of rivals | Read more
• At home : Team leader Rodney Childers to stay with SHR “for years to come” | More details
• Luck or skill: Joey Logano explains why he thinks luck comes into play in Round of 16 |Hear why
• Two is a tandem: William Byron enjoys his relationship with team leader Randy Fugle | Read more
• Bodywork: New Body Styles Unveiled for Season 22 of the Camping World Truck Series | Learn more about the changes
• Unfinished: Brad Keselowski still in the title photo at Team Penske | Read more
• Back to Charlotte: AJ Allmendinger to enter Cup Series competition at Charlotte Roval | Read more
• Roots: Peyton Sellers Wins Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Championship | See how
Notable quotes from sports stars ahead of Sunday’s race.
“Las Vegas has been amazing for us. We had a great run there last fall and got reworked on a restart and didn’t get that top 10 but other than that we’ve been a strong contender year after year. I think we finished second there in the spring and seem to be able to do it there, so I’m hoping for big things. Obviously, we need a strong performance for this round and the races there. It’s a tough round and I think we’ll have a good chance of doing it. “- Brad Keselowski, driver of Team No.2 Penske Ford
“This is the track where you can most control your own destiny, so this is the one you need to put the most emphasis on. If you do a good job as a driver and your car is fast and you the team does their job, that’s where you can get your best result. The other two tracks you are more likely to get caught up in someone else’s problems. I’m sure this race will be the most nervous of the whole 12-car playoff squad, hoping they perform well, because there’s just no data after that. – Denny Hamlin, Toyota driver # 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
“The round of 12 starts off with a great race track for me. Vegas is a place I’ve always run well and can’t wait to go. It will be nice to have a good run in Vegas leading up to the unknown, Talladega. – Christopher Bell, Toyota driver # 20 Joe Gibbs Racing