On Sunday, September 26th, NASCAR’s Cup Series will begin their second round of Playoffs races with the first stop coming in Las Vegas for the South Point 400.
This is the 4th ever fall Vegas race and it’s going to be an exciting one as the remaining field of eligible Playoff drivers all fight for the checkered flag and the automatic birth into the Round of 8.
Last weekend, Kyle Larson won at Bristol for the first time in his Cup Series career. It also marked the conclusion of the opening round of the postseason where four drivers were eliminated: Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell and Tyler Reddick.
For this weekend’s race, Kyle Larson leads the pack as the betting favorite to win the South Point 400. He’s followed closely by the trio of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott rounds out the Top 5 odds on favorites.
Let’s get into our racing gear, strap in tightly, rev those engines, and make some checkered flag winning predictions for the South Point 400 live from Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway first opened in 1972 as a drag strip and road course. It would eventually add a 3/8 mole oval track in 1996. But it wasn’t until 1998 that the 1.5 mile oval track was built.
Once again, the speedway underwent changes in 2006 and eventually was reconfigured to the current track that’s made of asphalt, has four turns of 12 to 20 degrees in banking, and a 1.5 mile lap distance.
Sunday’s South Point 400 breaks down as follows:
The South Point 400 is set to begin at 7pm ET and will air live on NBCSN.
With all of the excitement heading into the second round of the Playoffs, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Las Vegas:
The following is the current Playoff standings based on Playoff points. The field has been reset as we start the second round of the Playoffs:
Below Cutoff Line
In March 2017, NASCAR announced that they would move the fall New Hampshire race to Las Vegas starting in 2018.
Th 2018 fall Vegas race was originally set as the opening event of the Playoffs that season. The following year, NASCAR moved the event to primetime in order to help the drivers better deal with the heat. In 2020, the race was moved to its current spot as the first event of the Round of 12.
Brad Keselowski won the inaugural South Point 400 race. Martin Truex Jr. picked up the win in 2019 and Kurt Busch is the defending winner having taken the checkered flag in 2020.
Despite there being only three fall Vegas races, NASCAR’s Cup Series has been competing at this track since 1998. So, most of the drivers left in the Playoffs have plenty of experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the South Point 400 in Las Vegas on Sunday, September 26th:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
|Martin Truex Jr||2||6||10||14.3||10.7||0|
It comes as no surprise that Kyle Larson is the betting favorite to win the South Point 400. He thoroughly dominated at Las Vegas in the spring when he won the Pennzoil 400 after leading more than half of the event. That performance marked Kyle’s first win of the season.
Larson picked up his 6th win on the season just last weekend when he was the class of the field in the Bristol night race. Larson led 175 laps and punctuated the first round of the Playoffs with a big win.
In the first three races of the postseason, Larson has a 2nd, 6th and 1st. That’s an incredible 3.3 average finish. He has five Top 5s and seven Top 7s in the last eight races on the season.
At Vegas, Larson has one win, four Top 5s, and seven Top 10s in 10 career starts. His 9.8 average finish is third best among the field.
Over his last seven races at this track, Larson has four Top 3s, six Top 10s, and seven Top 12s.
Kyle is the man to beat on Sunday. You can mark him down as a Top 10, Top 5 and Top 3 car for the South Point 400.
Busch’s opening round of the Playoffs was a disaster to say the least. He entered the postseason as 4th in the standings and fell to 14th after a DNF at Darlington where he finished 35th.
Busch was able to muster up a 9th spot at Richmond, but then fell to 21st at Bristol last weekend. He’s fortunate that his accumulated Playoff points were high enough to rank him 5th in the standings after the field reset heading into the second round of the Playoffs.
Both of the Busch brothers are from Vegas and love winning at their home track. However, in 20 starts at this speedway, Kyle Busch only has one win. Additionally, he has eight Top 5s, 11 Top 10s and a 12.0 average finish which is 6th best among the field.
In his last seven races at this track, he has three Top 5s and five Top 10s. Busch was 6th in this race last year and finished 3rd in the spring Vegas race.
I like Busch’s chances of a Top 10 finish this weekend with a Top 5 ceiling. I would put him as a contender, but his opening round of the Playoffs has shaken my confidence in the #18 car.
For a driver the caliber of Denny Hamlin, it’s rather surprising to see that he hasn’t won at Vegas in his career. In fact, his numbers are rather disappointing considering Hamlin’s level of talent.
Denny has just four Top 5s and nine Top 10s in 19 career starts at Vegas. Yes, his 12.9 average finish is respectable as the 7th best among the field, but these stats don’t inspire confidence.
In his last seven races at Vegas, Hamlin has just two Top 5s and three Top 10s. He did finish 3rd in this race last year and 4th in the spring Vegas race this year.
Hamlin also has momentum on his side after a strong opening round of the Playoffs that saw him win at Darlington, finish runner up at Richmond and score a 9th at Bristol. That’s a stellar 4.0 average finish which only Larson has a better average in the first three Playoff races.
Additionally, Hamlin’s win at Darlington was the first of the season for the championship contender. Let’s not overlook the importance of that confidence builder.
With that said, I see Hamlin coming in as a Top 10 car with a Top 5 ceiling. I don’t see the #11 car taking home the checkered flag.
Just as impressive as Denny Hamlin, teammate Martin Truex Jr. also had a stellar first round of the Playoffs. Yet, unlike Hamlin, Truex needed the confidence builder after a subpar second half of the regular season.
Truex finished 4th at Darlington, won at Richmond, and came home 7th at Bristol. Like Hamlin, that also gives Truex a 4.0 average finish in the Playoffs so far.
Now, he comes to Vegas where Truex has had more success at this track than Hamlin and about on par with their teammate Kyle Busch.
In 19 starts, Truex has two wins, six Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and a 10.7 average finish which is 4th best among the field. He also has finished every race at this track.
Furthermore, it’s been his success over the last six years that really makes Truex a contender in this race on Sunday.
In the last 10 Vegas races, Truex has two wins, four Top 3s, six Top 5s, and eight Top 10s. He won this race in 2019 and finished 4th in it last year. Truex was 6th in the spring Vegas event.
Truex has a 2.6 average finish in the South Point 400 which is the best among the field. I like for the #19 car to be a Top 10 and Top 5 car with a shot to compete against Larson for the win.
Like Kyle Busch, Elliott had an abysmal first round of the Playoffs. He crashed out of Darlington, finished 4th at Richmond and then ended up 25th at Bristol last weekend. He comes into this race sitting 6th in the standings and hasn’t won a race this year that wasn’t on a road course.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the reigning Cup Series champ, his career at Vegas has been awful. In fact, he has the second worst average finish among the remaining 12 Playoff drivers.
In nine starts, Elliott has zero wins, two Top 5s, three Top 10s, and a 20.6 average finish along with three DNFs.
When a driver has just as many DNFs as they do Top 10s at a track, it’s a good sign to avoid him in a race. Elliott has three straight finishes of 13th or worse at Vegas. He was 22nd in this race last year and finished 13th in the Pennzoil 400 earlier this season.
Elliott would be lucky to crack the Top 10 this weekend. I would avoid Elliott this weekend.
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for the South Point 400 due to their current betting odds, their past success at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and their 2021 season so far:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
I think Joey Logano is undervalued this weekend and flying under the radar like he always does. He came into the Playoffs riding a slump with four straight finishes outside of the Top 20 to close out the regular season.
However, he broke that slump with an 8th at Darlington, 5th at Richmond, and an 11th at Bristol to give him an 8.0 average finish in the first round of the Playoffs.
It might not be as impressive as some of the drivers mentioned above, but it’s important to realize that the #22 car has turned things around and now heads to a track where he’s be great at.
In 16 starts at Vegas, Logano has two wins, six Top 5s and 11 Top 10s. He’s tied for the 2nd most Top 10s and third most Top 5s. Yet, his 8.4 average finish is the best among the field.
Over the last 11 races at this track, Logano has finished in the Top 10 for 10 of them. His worst result was 14th in this race last year. Yet, Joey also has two wins in the last five Vegas races.
He’s been remarkably consistent and I see that trend continuing this weekend. Look for the #22 car to be in the Top 10 and Top 5 with a shot at the win by time it’s all said and done.
Harvick came into the Playoffs sitting in the 16th and final spot. He had an uphill battle just to make it to the second round. And yet, the veteran driver did just that as he put together a solid opening round of the Playoffs.
Harvick was 5th at Darlington, 8th at Richmond and 2nd at Bristol. His 5.0 average finish in the opening round of the Playoffs was one of the best of the field.
Now, Harvick starts in the 12th and final position heading into Round 2 of the Playoffs. However, his success over the previous three races should give him the confidence needed to perform a similar feat this round.
At Vegas, Harvick has two wins, seven Top 5s, 12 Top 10s and a 14.0 average finish. For the most part, Harvick has done well at this track in recent years as well.
In the last 10 races at Vegas, Harvick has two wins, four Top 5s, and seven Top 10s. However, he does have two crashes as well.
Harvick was 10th in this race last year and 2nd in 2019. I like for the #4 car to be a Top 10 car on Sunday with a Top 5 ceiling.
Brad Keselowski is probably my favorite value play this weekend. For a driver with his Vegas resume, it’s rather surprising that he’s listed with these odds.
In 16 Vegas appearances, Keselowski has three wins, eight Top 5s, 11 Top 10s and a 10.8 average finish which is 5th best among the field. He’s tied with Kyle Busch for the most Top 5s and is second with the most Top 10s.
Keselowski has finished in the Top 13 for 12 straight races at this track which includes three wins. His last victory came in the inaugural South Point 400.
In the five races since that victory, Keselowski has three Top 3s and four Top 7s. He was 2nd in the spring race this year.
In the three South Point 400 races that have been held, Keselowski finished 1st, 3rd, and 13th. That’s a 5.6 average finish.
Brad’s opening round of Playoff races saw modest success as he finished 7th, 13th, and 6th. That’s a respectable 8.6 average finish.
I love Keselowski’s Top 10 odds for this race and I believe he will also be a Top 5 car on Sunday.
Newman’s season has been one of the worst of his career. Yet, there is small hope that he can crack the Top 10 this weekend.
In 23 career starts at Vegas, Newman has 10 Top 10s and a 15.7 average finish. He finished 15th in this race last year, 10th in 2019 and 9th in 2018. Over his last 10 races at this track, Newman has a 12.7 average finish.
Yes, he’s a longshot to finish in the Top 10, but his past success in this race gives us some hope.
A quick look at the rest of the Playoff drivers and their past experience at Las Vegas:
Kyle Larson is my choice for the best Top 5 bet in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas this weekend. Larson has one win and four Top 5s in 10 starts along with seven Top 10s. Furthermore, he has a 9.8 average finish for his career.
Larson comes into this weekend’s event having won at Bristol last weekend in addition to dominating the spring Vegas race this year. One more factor in why I like Larson for the Top 5 wager is the fact that he has 16 Top 5s in 29 races this year.
As mentioned above, I’m surprised by Keselowski’s odds and love his value for a Top 10 wager. So, how can I not pick him as the best Top 10 bet in Vegas on Sunday?
Keselowski has a Top 5 average finish, the most wins, the most Top 5s, and the second most Top 10s at Las Vegas.
He won this race in 2018 and has a 5.6 average finish in the three South Point 400 events. Keselowski was runner up at Vegas in the spring.
My Top 5 drivers are Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and a logjam for the final pick.
I can see any one of Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finishing in the Top 5. With that said, I’m going with Denny Hamlin due to how successful he was in the opening round of the Playoffs. I see him carrying that momentum into this round, but falling short of winning the race.
This is where things get really tough as all four of these drivers can win on Sunday. Let’s begin the elimination process. I don’t see Truex winning two of the first four Playoff races, so I’m ruling him out for the victory on Sunday.
Now, we have to choose between the two Penske teammates. The two have combined to win five races at Vegas. But, can we really see the same 1-2 finish from the spring in this race on Sunday? I don’t think we will, which is why I’m eliminating Keselowski from the equation.
This race will come down to Kyle Larson and Joey Logano with Keselowski waiting to pounce if one of these two drivers slip up.
The safe play is on Larson this weekend, but Logano provides more value. If you want a larger return on investment take Logano.
But, if you want the closest thing to a sure bet then take Kyle Larson. After the Bristol race last weekend, Dale Jarrett asked Kyle Petty who he thought would be the favorite in Vegas. Without hesitation, Petty said the man who was standing behind him – Kyle Larson.
So, without hesitation, I’m taking Larson to dominate in the desert for the second time this season.
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