The Sprint Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend following two thrilling runs to open the 2012 campaign. If any place can recreate the drama and excitement of the season opener in Daytona, it has to be Las Vegas, right?
I mean, I caught two minutes of the old show “Las Vegas” (not the Robert Urich one, but the one with James Caan, Nikki Cox, Josh Duhamel and the fabulous Vanessa Marcil, among others, of course) and there was Jimmie Johnson judging a car competition. It just seemed appropriate. He’s the leader here, though Kyle Busch has represented his home track well. Can Smoke get a win?
Who’s lined up for my squad this week? Let’s get it on.
Carl Edwards *Captain* — Three drivers have claimed the checkered flag on multiple occasions in Las Vegas. Edwards joins the aforementioned Johnson (four wins) and Matt Kenseth (two) in the exclusive club with two victories of his own. Edwards has generated three top-10 finishes in his seven career starts while averaging a 12.4-position running slot and 11th-place finish. He’s run 17th or better in six of his seven Las Vegas starts. Start practicing your backflips. Edwards ran inside the top 15 in 68% of all laps run during this period.
I’ve already used both Johnson and Kenseth in this half, so I’ve decided to refrain from doubling up so quickly. There’s plenty of time to utilize those remaining starts, though the West Coast swing is awfully enticing.
Kevin Harvick — Harvick is one of five Sprint Cup drivers to record back-to-back top-10 finishes to open the 2012 season. I look for the hot start to continue in the desert. Harvick has generated three top-5 finishes in Las Vegas and seven top-15 finishes in his career. Harvick’s average running slot in the past seven years of 12.9 ranks ninth on the circuit.
Greg Biffle — He’s long a Harmon Fantasy FIX favorite, and it felt so good to get to chat him up in my hit for FOXSports.com this week. Biffle is another driver off to a fantastic start in 2012. He’s raced to back-to-back top-5 finishes and ranks as a serious contender this week.
Biffle has produced five top-10 finishes in his eight career Las Vegas starts while adding a 16th-place finish for good measure. His 10.5-position average running slot during the past seven years ranks third in the Sprint Cup Series.
Joey Logano — Logano looks ready to make a huge run in 2012 and to put last year’s struggles in the proverbial rearview mirror. He’s pushed through the pack to record back-to-back top-10 finishes. Remember, Logano produced only six top-10 finishes in all of 2012.
Logano is set for another tremendous spot here in Las Vegas. He owns the eighth-best average running slot among active drivers at 12.5, though he has only appeared in three Vegas events. Logano has finished 23rd, sixth and 13th in his three career starts.
Marcos Ambrose — Finally, I turn to Ambrose to finish off the squad. He’s qualified inside the top 5 in two of his three career Las Vegas appearances and has finished inside the top 20 in all three races. In fact, Ambrose parlayed a second-position qualifying slot into his fourth-place run last year. He’s finished fourth, 14th and 20th in these races.
Despite the fantastic qualifying efforts, Ambrose has averaged a middling 18.7-position running slot. He’s then rallied through the pack to average a 12.7-position finish.