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Kasey Kahne will start on the pole this afternoon at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and I find it interesting that he said he might have been trying too hard the first two races this season. He was referring to the fast cars he had at both Daytona and Phoenix and yet ended up with poor finishes. That being said and him sitting on the pole for Vegas and setting the new track record, makes this fan wonder if he has eased up yet. Of course you know I’m sort of joking about that, but still, he does have a fast race car for the Kobalt Tools 400 this afternoon.
Yeah, I know he was only one of fifteen drivers that broke the old track record set last year by Matt Kenseth but, he was still the fastest of those fifteen. I also know there were a lot of cars showing a lot of speed in the last practice Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, some of the faster cars showed there are some treacherous spots at LVMS and two of the the top ten starters will be starting in the back in backup cars. Kyle Bush qualified second but will be one of those starting in the back while Jimmie Johnson is the other. Even though Johnson qualified sixth, he will also be in a backup car to start the race. Both of them will have their work cut out for themselves if they expect to have any chance at ending up in Victory Lane. Since we are talking about Kyle Bush and Jimmie Johnson, neither one can (or should) be counted out for being up front at the end of the day, but if they do, they will definitely have to work for it. Plus, there are forty one other drivers ahead of them that I don’t think will be just waiting around for them to catch up.
Once again, the Fords didn’t qualify all that well but they are expected to run well during the race. After all, the 1 ½ mile tracks are supposed to be their forte. Carl Edwards had a fast car but didn’t qualify as he had hoped and starts twenty first. His teammates, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth did a little better at ninth and eleventh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ruling out the Fords but I do think the Chevy’s and Toyotas are looking a bit stronger (at least in the practice and qualifying sessions.)
So you may be asking why I think the Chevys are going to make a good showing this afternoon. Well, that is a good question and I would just point you a couple of obvious reasons. First, until Jimmie Johnson had his problems, the Hendrick camp had three cars in the top six starting spots. Second, the Childress team of Kevin Harvick was another fast Chevy. He ran fast in practice and qualified third. With as consistent as he has been over the last two races, I would not be surprised to see him contending for the win at the end of the day.
It’s true, there are a lot of fast cars and one thing this fan has noticed this year is, the competition between teams appears to be even closer than it was last year and that in itself makes it difficult to choose possible winners, especially at the Vegas track. From this fan’s view, this will be another fuel mileage week and once again, the pressure will be on the crews to perform flawlessly and help their driver make up as many spots in the pits as they can. Because the track is so fast, track position will be crucial to the eventual winner today and that puts even more pressure on the pit crews. Although I expect the competition to be tight, passing may be more difficult and that could lead to a bit more bumpin’ and runnin’ and maybe just a little bit of short tempered impatience by the end of the race. That could mean more yellows and possibly more vehicle carnage during those double file restarts and open up even more opportunities for a surprise winner.
Now, I really do hate to keep bringing this up week after week but, Dale Jr looked mighty strong in all of the practice sessions and with his qualifying spot of fourth. Since Kyle Bush is having to move to the back, doesn’t that mean Dale Jr will be starting on the front row, right next to Kasey Kahne? I know that is not as big a deal as it might seem but, that is a very strong Hendrick front row if it turns out that way.
From my view, this could very well be the week Dale Jr (and crew chief, Steve Letarte) break that string of non-wins he’s been enduring for a while now. If that happens (and it very could) Jr Nation will be very happy when they leave Las Vegas and you can be sure it will be one thing that may happen in Vegas but won’t stay in Vegas…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 11, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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