NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Las Vegas Round of 8 Opener


It was an emotional win for Kaulig Racing's A.J.Allmendinger last week at the ROVAL™ elimination race for the Round of 12. It was AJ's third NASCAR Cup Series win -- all coming on road courses. The victory marks the first time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that a non-playoff driver beat the field. The four drivers eliminated from the Playoffs were – Brad Keselowski, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of these drivers will play spoiler before the last checkered flag falls ending the 2023 season.

This Week's Pick Strategy: Hendrick Motorsports is very strong here, so I wouldn't be surprised if the winner comes from that camp. However, there are some drivers who have something to prove like Martin Truex Jr. who needs to recapture the magic that made him the regular season champion, not to mention the hometown driver Kyle Busch who'd love to play spoiler and is pretty good here. I'd hedge your bets and almost do an even split between Chevys and Toyotas and perhaps throw in Chris Buescher if you feel compelled to include a Ford.
Drivers with Most Top 10s:
By Race
Martin Truex Jr. - 5
Both with 4 - Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney 
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick
By Track in the Last 5 Years (2018-2022)
Martin Truex Jr. - 9
Kyle Busch - 8
All with 7 - Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Larson
Both with 6 - Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney
Denny Hamlin - 5

Last Year's Pole Sitter: Tyler Reddick
Last Year's Race Winner: Joey Logano

The Likely Suspects: My Las Vegas elites include Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is a tie between Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman. I'll complete my roster with A.J. Allmendinger and Ty Gibbs. 

My Final Four: Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and A.J. Allmendinger.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Alex Bowman. Alex has earned a 12.3 average finish in 10 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the ninth-best among active Cup Series drivers. His record here includes one win, three Top 5s, and four Top 10s. His victory at Las Vegas came last March when he passed his teammate Kyle Larson. Alex has had a lackluster year, but don't count him out just yet. He just may roll the dice this weekend for his first win of the season.
Points to Ponder:
  • The second starting position is the most prolific in the field, producing more winners (16.13%) than any other starting position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (16.13%).
  • Four manufacturers have visited Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas, led by Ford (14 wins), followed by Chevrolet with 11 wins
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with eight victories among five drivers.
  • Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in wins at Las Vegas with three (2014, 2016, 2018).
  • Four active drivers have multiple NASCAR Cup Series wins at Las Vegas: Brad Keselowski (three), Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. (all with two each).
  • Kyle Larson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in runner-up finishes at Las Vegas with four second-place finishes.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in Top 5 finishes at Las Vegas with 11. 
  • Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch lead the NASCAR Cup Series in Top 10 finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 14 each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all drivers in laps led with 679 laps led in 28 Cup starts. 
  • Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the series in average finish at Las Vegas with an 9.850.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your final picks by 2:30 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, October 15th. 
Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pours through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Las Vegas Round of 8 Opener NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Las Vegas Round of 8 Opener Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, October 15, 2023 Rating: 5