Ryan Blaney will start on the pole for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). With three practice sessions for this race in the books, we’ve dissected the numbers and 10-lap averages to offer a look at three drivers worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration as you go to make roster decisions for the third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2018.
1. Ryan Blaney. It’s not exactly a hot take to come out and say that the pole winner is a smart choice to include in your Fantasy Live lineup, but the Team Penske driver can’t be ignored Sunday. Second thus far in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition in the laps-led column, Blaney will likely pace the field for a good chunk of the race and could add a stage win to his credit. Saturday’s final practice winner has a 10.7 average finish at Vegas and has finished in the top seven the last two times out.
2. Kyle Larson. If there’s one driver you absolutely must start — especially if you’ve yet to use him — it’s Larson. Saturday’s Xfinity Series winner also tested at Las Vegas earlier this year, leading the second session during the event. Safe to say he knows his way around the Nevada track pretty well. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also paced the first two practices of the weekend, was second-best in the third session, and had the fastest 10-lap average in the final tune-up. As long as he can keep it clean, the No. 42 — last year’s race runner-up — will have plenty of speed.
3. Kevin Harvick. You already know Harvick is among the best — if not the best — at the intermediate tracks over the past few years, and last week’s Atlanta winner should find his way to the front again on Sunday. (It shouldn’t take too long, as he’s starting second.) Harvick also put together the fastest 10-lap string in the second practice, was second on that chart in the final session and won this race in 2015. Get him in your lineup, but remember — you’re likely going to want him next week at Phoenix, as well, so keep an eye on his starts meter.
Pat DeCola’s revised Fantasy Live lineup following practices and qualifying:
1: Joey Logano
2: Ryan Blaney
3: Kevin Harvick
4: Martin Truex Jr.
5: Kyle Larson
Garage: Kurt Busch
Analysis: I’m going heavy with this one. The fastest cars seem to be pretty clear this weekend, with the Fords showing their early season speed might be for real (Blaney, Harvick, Logano) and usual suspects Larson and Truex acting like themselves when it comes to intermediate tracks out west.
Based on their speed and past track history, I suspect all three Team Penske cars will be among those vying for the lead/win at some point, so I have two of them in there but seriously considered the full trio. Logano has finished in the top four in three of the past four Vegas races and is due for a win. Good time to capitalize on his quick start to the season.
Busch — another Ford guy — has been shut out of a win at his home track in 16 attempts and doesn’t have a tremendously favorable history at Vegas, but he did test there and could be fast like he was at Atlanta. He’s a good garage pick because of his high ceiling, moderate floor.
Remember to set your roster and bonus picks ahead of Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. ET start time and to keep tabs on your team during the race with the ability to go to the garage locking at the completion of Stage 2.