Tag Archives: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

NASCAR Changes Chase and Hits a Home Run

At the start of the 2014 season NASCAR changed the rules for qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The changes were supposed to make winning races more important. As much as that sounds silly when talking about racing, it isn’t so silly when talking about winning championships.

The past week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his crew chief Steve Letarte used pit strategy to almost win the race. They ran out of fuel on the last lap and finished second.

What may not be evident to many fans is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gave up a sure top ten finish in order to potentially win the race. This type of strategy would never happen without the new rules for qualifying for the Chase.

When asked if they would have tried that strategy Earnhardt, Jr. said, “Absolutely not.  I can say that without a doubt.

Earnhardt, Jr. further elaborated, “I think the way the new format is, nothing is perfect, right, but it definitely is showing it has tons of positives, and it’s better as far as entertainment for our sport.  Yeah, it gives us freedom, and it’s nice to have that freedom to do the things that we did today, even though we knew our odds weren’t good.  We really shouldn’t have made it, and we didn’t, but we got to try because of the new system.  So yeah, I think it’s pretty cool.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Team showed the other NASCAR teams the last few weeks how a little less conservative strategy can pay off on the track. This has only come about because NASCAR made changes that make winning a race more important than having a bad finish.

Its only three weeks into the season, imagine what will happen when all the crew chiefs eyes have been opened up to the potential gain of bailing on a sure decent finish for the potential of a win. A little swing for the fences attitude is just what NASCAR needed to add some excitement and it appears to already be working.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 295983 NASCAR Via Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson will win the KOBALT 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The reining NASCAR Sprint Cup champion hasn’t won a race yet this year but he hasn’t been racing badly either. That will change as NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the KOBALT 400, his sponsor.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a high banked, 1.5 mile D shaped oval with 20 degrees of banking in the turns and 9 degrees in the front and backstretch. This track is similar to Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. It will be a fast race. The race is 267 laps, 400.5 miles.

Jimmie Johnson has started this season with a fifth and sixth place finish. If it was any other driver it would be a fantastic start to the season. Unfortunately, for Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus they have set the bar for themselves sky high. That will change.

Looking at the Driver Ratings for Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with a 112.3. This is almost 10 points away from the next driver, Jeff Gordon. It is also near the magical 120 mark where drivers dominate.

Johnson also leads all active drivers with four wins and an average finish of 9.5. Only Carl Edwards comes close with an average finish of 9.7.

We are looking forward to the opportunity for the extra test day in Vegas. With all the rule changes, we really need that time on these types of tracks to figure some things out.“, Johnson added “Again, this weekend will be pretty interesting. Plus this race is sponsored by Lowe’s /KOBALT so we want to do well for KOBALT and keep that trophy in house.

This is also the home track of Kurt and Kyle Busch. Both would love to win this weekend but only Kyle Busch has been able to win. He hasn’t had much consistency in recent appearances.

The extra practice that the teams have on Thursday will allow Chad Knaus, the most efficient crew chief at practice in NASCAR, to get Jimmie Johnson the fastest car possible. Johnson will do the rest.

If you can’t get to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the KOBALT 400, the race will be broadcast live on FOX starting at 2:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 123282 Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Las Vegas
Jimmie Johnson………………….. 112.3
Jeff Gordon………………………… 103.8
Tony Stewart………………………. 103.4
Greg Biffle………………………….. 103.0
Kyle Busch…………………………. 102.8
Carl Edwards……………………….. 98.8
Matt Kenseth………………………… 98.7
Kevin Harvick……………………….. 94.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr………………….. 88.2
Kasey Kahne………………………… 87.7
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.