The third event of the 2023 NASCAR season takes place with Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, which will be the 31st Cup Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The past six races at LVMS have featured at least 20 lead changes, and the past nine have all been won by drivers who did not start on the front row.
Ross Chastain, a two-race winner last season, leads the series standings for the first time — albeit by a slim one-point margin over Joey Logano.
“Well, I’m certainly not used to it,” Chastain said. “It feels good to me, but I think it also tells the story of a bigger picture with Trackhouse (Racing) being fairly young and all the people there working together to help us get to this point.
“I certainly didn’t get here on my own. Everyone is pulling in the same direction and it’s showing. I don’t want to get ahead of myself though. This is a long season, and there are so many variables, so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll see how the season shakes out.”
Ten different drivers have posted top-5 finishes through the first two races of 2023.
PENNZOIL 400 The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway The Date: Sunday, March 5, 3:30 p.m. ET Defending Champion: Alex Bowman TV: FOX Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90) Distance: 400 miles
BEST BETS Kyle Busch (+550 at BetMGM) Busch is coming off a victory at Fontana. The Vegas native has three third-place finishes and a fourth in his past four races at LVMS, although his lone victory at the track came in 2009. Busch is also running in the Truck Series and Xfinity races, so he’ll know the track well by Sunday.
He opened at +600 but Busch is the sportsbook’s biggest liability this week as he leads the field with 11.0 percent of the total bets and 19.6 percent of the money backing him.
Kyle Larson (+700) Larson is off to a slow start with an 18th and a 29th finish this year. This could be his breakout week, as Larson won the spring race in Las Vegas two years ago and finished runner-up last year.
Joey Logano (+800) Logano is second with 14.4 percent of the money backing him and third with 7.6 percent of the total bets, which has led to his odds shortening since opening at +900. He has eight top-10 finishes in his past 10 starts at LVMS.
Ross Chastain (+800) Chastain finished in the top three in both Las Vegas races last year. He was ninth at Daytona after winning the second stage. He also swept the first two stages at Fontana, led a race-high 91 laps and finished third. Chastain, who led the series with 296 points on 1.5-mile tracks last year, is third at BetMGM with 9.8 percent of the money backing him.
Denny Hamlin (+1100) Hamlin has six consecutive top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks, the longest active streak, and scored 237 points on 1.5-mile circuits last year. He won the fall race in Las Vegas in 2021 and has four top-5 finishes in his past five LVMS races.
Daniel Suarez (+2200) Suarez ran seventh in the Daytona 500 and followed that with a fourth-place finish on Auto Club Speedway’s 2.0-mile track to build on his 10th-place finish last season.
–Field Level Media
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