What to Watch: Full guide for NASCAR’s visit to Las Vegas

2022 March5 Las Vegas W2w Main Image
Jennifer Fisher
NASCAR Digital Media

2022 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
(⏰ 3:30 p.m. ET | 📺 FOX | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s visit to Las Vegas, the third regular-season NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2022 campaign.

Race-day info

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval
Green flag: 3:49 p.m. ET
Grand Marshal: Pro football legend Marcus Allen
Flyover: Heritage Flight: (1) F-16, (1) F-35, (1) F-22, (1) F-15
TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 62 degrees, according to the National Weather Service
Race purse: $8,483,997
Race distance: 267 laps | 400.5 miles
Stages: 80 | 165 | 267
Pit-road speed: 45 mph
Caution car speed: 55 mph
Las Vegas 101: Get the full lowdown
Entry list: See every driver and team

Starting lineup for Sunday
Practice happenings: Practice results | Heavy hit for Kyle Busch
Prepping for pit road: Pit-stall assignments | Which box is best at Las Vegas?

Five things to watch

1. The first two races of the NASCAR Cup Series season have produced a variety pack of top-10 finishers, with 19 different drivers occupying those spots after the year-opening Daytona 500 and last weekend’s event at Auto Club Speedway. The question that’s begged for this weekend’s 400-miler at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is if the trend can keep going. Only Aric Almirola — fifth at Daytona, sixth at Auto Club — is a repeat visitor to the top 10, a stroke of consistency that has him seventh in the Cup Series standings early on. Among those who have yet to scratch the top-10 column are some familiar names: Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman — all of whom qualified for the Cup Series playoffs last year. | Parity party, for openers | Weekend schedule

2. Kyle Larson heads to the third race of 2022 with his first win of the season already in pocket. The defending Cup Series champion is also the defending race winner at Las Vegas, and his victory here in 2021 touched off what would become a 10-win campaign that resulted in his first series title. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver ruffled some in-house feathers on the way to his Auto Club victory last week, brushing by teammate Chase Elliott in the closing laps. Larson still has the hot hand, with five wins in the last seven Cup Series races stretching back to last season. Unsurprisingly, he’s the 5-1 favorite in the latest Vegas odds, and he’ll start from the second position Sunday. | Preview show: All bets off | Debate: Larson vs. Elliott? | Latest odds

3. The new method for Cup Series practice and qualifying underwent a tweak for this weekend, with NASCAR competition officials switching from two separately grouped 15-minute sessions to a single 35-minute stint for all cars. The move was made to allow teams more track time with the new Next Gen car model, which makes its first stop of the season at a 1.5-mile track. Last weekend’s practice at Auto Club was interrupted by multiple crashes. Saturday in Vegas, Kyle Busch absorbed the only major incident with a heavily damaged No. 18 Toyota after his spin into the Turn 3 wall. He did not participate in qualifying and will start from the rear of the field in Sunday’s 400. | Bell snags Busch Light Pole; practice recap | Analysis: Teams make most of practice

4. One team searching for a rebound in the early going is the No. 12 Team Penske bunch of Ryan Blaney. After contending for the victory in the season-opening Daytona 500, Blaney endured an eventful race at Auto Club, with an apparent setup issue that made pit stops difficult and resulted in a daylong net loss of positions on pit road. He drove his way back into the hunt multiple times, but a near-spin on the final lap left him 18th. Blaney finished fifth in each of the Cup Series’ visits to Las Vegas last year, and the Vegas sportsbooks are optimistic about his prospects, slotting him at 10-1 odds near the top of the board.

5. The Cup Series heads to its first 1.5-mile track on the schedule, but the rules configuration will remain the same as last weekend’s package for the 2-mile Auto Club layout. The baseline of 670 target horsepower with a 4-inch tall rear spoiler will be in effect at Las Vegas, as it will at the majority of tracks on the 2022 slate. The event is also the middle event in the schedule’s three-race western sweep — a span that includes Auto Club, Vegas and next weekend’s trip to Phoenix Raceway. | Base rules configurations set | Configurations by track for 2022

2022 March5 Las Vegas W2w2 Main Image
Cup Series haulers with the Las Vegas Motor Speedway main grandstand as a backdrop | Jennifer Fisher | NASCAR Digital Media

Race-day staples

Our biggest pieces of the week – get covered for race day from all angles.

– Power Rankings: RCR’s Austin Dillon making some headway in early going | Latest rankings
– Paint Scheme Preview:
New Next Gen looks making their Las Vegas debut | See the schemes
– Preview Show:
Similar action set for Sin City? | Watch the show
– Fantasy Fastlane:
Putting Penske’s pace to the test at Vegas | Top plays, sleepers

Catch the pack

Abbie Parr | Getty Images
Abbie Parr | Getty Images

Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

– Spreading the wealth: Fresh faces landing top-10 finishes | Full analysis
– Testy teammates?: Kyle Larson says team conference ‘a good meeting to have’ | Read more
– Tech corner:
Next Gen offers strong data on repairs, adjustments | Read more
– Penalties:
No. 38 crew docked for lost-wheel violation; team appeals | Penalty report
– Under review: NASCAR officials working to alleviate beached cars | Hear more
– One fan’s journey:
Chip Swanson doesn’t let Parkinson’s slow his Daytona experience | Read more
– Fantasy picks:
Erik Jones’ hopes riding high for Vegas | See more
– Early insights:
Cole Custer: ‘It’s anybody’s game right now’ | Watch more

Get in on the action

NASCAR Fantasy Live
NASCAR Creative Design

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

– Play it LIVE: Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ
– Early surprises:
Teams with surpassed expectations so far | Watch more
– What are the odds?: Betting odds for Las Vegas | See the favorites
– Late fantasy feedback:
Rowdy’s wreck throws a curve | Get updates
– BetMGM:
Reason for Tyler Reddick optimism in Vegas | Expert tips
– The Action Network: Why William Byron is a bet to make right now for Vegas | Find out why
– Backseat Bettors: Inside the head-to-head battles for Vegas | Which bets are best?
– Prop picks: Try your hand at matchups for Las Vegas | Featured picks
– Going all the way: Updated 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

Arriving at Las Vegas

The Las Vegas track has had its share of memorable moments – take a look back at the venue’s history and features.

– Sin City conquerors: All-time wins at Las Vegas | All the winners
– Pace out front:
Top 10 lap leaders at Las Vegas | See the list
– Cherish the times:
Memorable moments from Las Vegas | Remember when
– How wide?:
Strategies abound for Las Vegas pit road | Watch breakdown
– Take me back:
Recap of Kyle Larson’s 2021 victory | Read more
– Press rewind:
All of the best 2021 race highlights | Watch them here

Fast facts

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

Just one driver has prevailed at Las Vegas after winning the pole position — Kyle Busch, in 2009.
Stewart-Haas Racing has the most top-10 finishes this year with four.
– Kyle Larson earned the most points (440) on 1.5-mile tracks last season.
Cup Series champions have won 13 of the last 14 races at Las Vegas.
– Brad Keselowski has placed seventh or better in 12 of the last 13 events at Vegas.

Say what?

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

Meg Oliphant | Getty Images
Meg Oliphant | Getty Images

“I think no one has an advantage anymore. Nobody knows to a lot of these points we were just talking about and having a lack of practice. Nobody really knows if they’re gonna be good or not. I think it’s funny when I get that question: How are you gonna run this weekend? No clue. I used to have an idea, to your point, as we go to Vegas. ‘Yeah, that’s one of my best tracks. I should be really good.’ I’ve got no clue how we’re gonna run. The good thing is though that it’s still a race car. It’s still got four tires. It still goes fast. It’s still Vegas and a lot of the things I’ve done in the past are probably gonna work with this car as a driver, but with setup and all that’s gonna be completely different.” — Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, on adjustment to the Next Gen car early in the 2022 season

“I think what NASCAR did with this Next Gen car is something that, on my opinion, we’re already seeing the results. We are going to look back in a few years from now, five years from now and we are going to be very, very thankful we did this thing called the Next Gen car. It just brought opportunity for new players in the game. I don’t think that if it wasn’t for the Next Gen car, I don’t think that Trackhouse would be here, I don’t think 23XI (Racing) would be here. I’m sure that there’s more team owners that are maybe thinking about it now that there is a Next Gen car. So yeah, answering that question, I definitely think that the competition and the way that we are competing with this Next Gen car is way more level than before.” — Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, on the benefits of the Next Gen car