RaceDayScore NASCAR: Kobalt 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Kobalt 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

KOBALT 400

Location: Las Vegas
Course: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick dominated the laps led statistic last week in Atlanta, but it was Jimmie Johnson who used a late restart to consolidate his lead and race to victory in a green-white-checkered finish. The new low-downforce rules package forced drivers to battle handling throughout the afternoon, and that is a good clue as to what fantasy players should expect to see this week as well. Drivers and teams learned how far they can push their equipment, and they will make adjustments as they prepare their strategies for Las Vegas. The challenges will be similar this week, though. Stewart Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick dominated at this track last year, while the Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are certainly capable of battling one another at the front again this week. However, with one race under everyone's belts with this year's rules package we could see some other teams make adjustments that could see them make a visit amongst the top contenders.

Key Stats at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Races: 18
Winners from pole: 1
Winners from top-5 starters: 5
Winners from top-10 starters: 8
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 4
Fastest race: 154.633 mph

Last 10 Las Vegas Winners

2015 spring - Kevin Harvick
2014 spring - Brad Keselowski
2013 spring - Matt Kenseth
2012 spring - Tony Stewart
2011 spring - Carl Edwards
2010 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2009 spring - Kyle Busch
2008 spring - Carl Edwards
2007 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2006 spring - Jimmie Johnson

While Las Vegas is a 1.5-mile oval, it is very different than Atlanta. The speeds at this tri-oval are lower, but there are opportunities for drivers to move up and down the banking to find a groove that suits their handling. Track position could end up playing a bigger role this week than last, and that will especially be true if there are more cautions than the three we saw in Atlanta. The Las Vegas track shouldn't feature the difficulty drivers had passing last year, but the tire issues some experienced could be amplified this week. Those characteristics are a result of the new rules package, which will make caution periods more prevalent and work on pit road more important than last week. Track position is often the key to challenging for the win in Las Vegas, but restarts could prove to be pivotal again this week.

RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,500
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $12,100
Kyle Busch - $12,000

Tier 2 Values

Jimmie Johnson - $11,900
Matt Kenseth - $11,900
Martin Truex Jr. - $11,900
Carl Edwards - $11,800
Denny Hamlin - $11,700

Tier 3 Values

Paul Menard - $10,900
Kasey Kahne - $10,800
Greg Biffle - $10,200
Kyle Larson - $10,900

Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $9,900
Ryan Blaney - $9,400
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,200
Brian Vickers - $9,100

THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Jimmie Johnson - $11,900
Matt Kenseth - $11,900
Kasey Kahne - $10,800
Greg Biffle - $10,200
Trevor Bayne - $8,500
Michael Annett - $6,700

The tight grouping in RaceDayScore.com's driver pricing puts a premium on correctly choosing the race winner. There isn't much room to fit two race favorites in any one lineup, but this week we can in the low-risk option. Johnson and Kenseth both have shown speed that can win at Las Vegas this week. Johnson, a four-time Las Vegas winner, won last week while Kenseth missed out on a chance for victory due to a miscommunication between him and his team. Kasey Kahne was pacey in practice and qualifying in Atlanta, but faltered in the race to score a disappointing finish. He should have learned more about tire management, and should be more competitive this week. The Roush Fenway Racing teammates continued to show improvements over last season and Biffle boasts a Las vegas driver rating of 96.1. Trevor Bayne's statistics from his five career starts at Las Vegas put him in the top 15 among drivers in this format, while Michael Annett should be capable of pulling off a top-20 result this week.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $12,100
Paul Menard - $10,900
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,200
Brian Vickers - $9,100
Ryan Blaney - $9,100
David Ragan - $9,600

Dale Earnhardt Jr. heads the higher-risk lineup option, but he should not be considered a risk in Las Vegas. His driver rating at the track is 94.4 with an average finish of 6.2 in his last five races at the track. A confident second-pick here is Menard. He is a regular top-10 finisher at Las Vegas and finished third in the 2014 edition of the race. Stenhouse's top-10 last week could be an omen for a repeat this week, and Vickers is getting another chance in the No. 14 machine with a teammate that can dominate at the track. Ryan Blaney, one of the more exciting rookies in recent seasons, will be here with Wood Brothers Racing aiming for a top-15 or better after finishing 19th last year. Finally, David Ragan offers another option out of the Roush stable. He didn't have the best result last week, but was capable of more given his speeds in practice and qualifying. He should see improvement this week.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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