Kevin Harvick is favored to take the checkered flag at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. If he proves bookmakers right, it would mark for the fifth time in his NASCAR career to pull off back-to-back wins.
The Westgate LV SuperBook has Harvick as a 9/2 pick to win the Pennzoil 400. BetOnline has him as a 5/1 selection. The two books differ on who’s most likely to finish behind him. Westgate has defending champion Martin Truex, Jr., at 5/1, and Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and local Las Vegas resident Kyle Busch at 6/1. BetOnline has Keselowski and Truex at 6/1, Busch at 13/2, and Larson at 7/1.
It is the second of nine races on a 1.5-mile intermediate track and last year’s winner, Truex Jr., dominated on the layout. He won seven races on intermediates, including the season-ending EcoBoost 400, en route to capturing the Monster Energy Cup Championship.
Harvick Leads Fords
Winning on all the intermediate tracks would suit Harvick just fine. He dominated in Atlanta last week, leading 181 of the 325 laps and beating runner-up Keselowski by 2.690 seconds for his 38th career victory.
This was the site of his first title, winning here as a rookie after replacing the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr., after his tragic death at Daytona in 2001.
“That was the first win in my career (in 2001), and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool,” he said. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. I love racing here, and it’s good to be back in Victory Lane – finally. It took a while.”
Ford also had a great showing, with the auto manufacturer’s cars coming in 1-2-3. In addition to Harvick’s win, Ford drivers Keselowski took second and Clint Bowyer finished third.
While the odds might be on Harvick, local eyes will be focused on Busch. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Kyle and Kurt Busch still maintain residences in the desert city and always enjoy racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch won here in 2009, while Kurt’s best finish is a third in 2005. Kyle Busch is competing in all three races this weekend, starting with the truck series event on Friday, followed by the Xfinity Series race on Saturday. Will he have enough left in the tank to mount a challenge for the checkered flag on Sunday?
Another driver who doesn’t live in Las Vegas, but feels right at home in Sin City is Kewelowski. Since 2013 he has finished third, first, seventh, first, and fifth. He told the Las Vegas Review Journal he has an affinity for the facility.
“I always like tracks we win at,” he said. “It’s been a fun track for us of late.”
Finishing second last week is momentum he hopes to carry over on Sunday in the Pennzoil 400.
“Any time you come back to a track, you think about the good times and the bad times you’ve had at it,” he said “I’ve had a lot of really, really good memories here. It’s a track that makes me smile when we pull in the gate.”