Viva, Las Vegas! It’s that time of year again! All the teams from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pack up and head to Sin City for some gambling unrelated to pit stops, bright lights away from the cameras, and a trip to In-N-Out Burger for the world famous Double Double! What may be a favorite stop on the NASCAR circuit of many drivers and teams is also popular among the viewers at home. Las Vegas Motor Speedway has put on some great racing in the past, and one can only hope it does the same on Sunday during the Shelby American race at LVMS.
Will we see any new teams emerge as contenders? … Already, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports (duh) have shown some strength in the first two races of 2010. What team will step up this weekend? Will Joe Gibbs Racing show the speed they showed most of last year? Will Roush Fenway Racing return to prominence? What about an underdog team? It’s something we pay attention to every year, and already we have plenty of potential contenders in the wake. Now we’ll see if any other teams will step up to the challenge.
Who will steal the golden horseshoe? … There’s no doubt some people are just plain lucky. But luck only lasts so long. Jimmie Johnson got a huge break when he beat the leader off of pit road when the caution came out while the No. 48 team was making a pit stop. This week, who will be the “lucky dog” and enjoy a fair amount of success that comes from more than just talent? Who knows, it may be Kevin Harvick since he was the one to finally discover the secret to Johnson’s success.
Can we escape the rain? … Rain washed out the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Daytona and caused issues with the pothole. It forced a caution last week at Auto Club Speedway and had some teams thinking about gambling due to the weather. This weekend we’re in Las Vegas … the desert. You’d think that since we’re in Nevada, Mother Nature would take a week off and go rain on someone else’s parade (or sporting event). However, showers are expected on Saturday, during which NASCAR is supposed to have two Sprint Cup Series practice sessions, Nationwide Series qualifying, and the Nationwide Series race. It seems as though the weather might have other plans. Mother Nature: 2. NASCAR: 0.
Who will be leading the points standings after the race? … This is my favorite time of the NASCAR season. During the first few races, the points don’t really matter. The points leader at the beginning of the race could be well out of the top 12 by the time all is said and done. For instance, Johnson gained 23 positions with his win on Sunday. He was 35th heading into the Auto Club 500, and left in the 12th position. That’s quite a leap! On the other end, Juan Pablo Montoya was 9th leaving Daytona, and is now 23rd in points. The further we get into the season, the less drastic these points changes will become. But it sure is fun to watch right now!
When will the dark horses become contenders? … There are some sleepers and surprises in the top 15 in points right now. David Reutimann is quietly hanging out in the 8th position. Last year’s rookie of the year, Joey Logano, is in 9th. The Red Bull Racing duo of Brian Vickers and Scott Speed are in 14th and 15th, respectively. Not to mention the RCR trio of Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, and Harvick. These are teams and drivers that, while they had some degree of success last season, weren’t necessarily title contenders. Now, they’re getting a jumpstart on what they hope is a terrific season. Now we’ll have to see what they can do in Sin City.
Bonus questions: How many double-doubles will the NASCAR circus have devoured before we leave Las Vegas? … Is Carl Edwards more relieved that his daughter was born during the week or that the media will finally quit asking him about it? … Which Las Vegas native will outperform the others this weekend?