A Manufacturer’s Best Hope – Las Vegas

“Matt Kenseth put his Ford Fusion into Victory Lane in the Auto Club 500 in California this past weekend. The win made for his second in a row– this time without the rain. This gives Ford a six point lead in the Manufacturer’s point championship race.

nascar sprint cup manufacturers point standings as of 2/24/09Matt became the first driver to win the season’s opening two races since Jeff Gordon did it in 1997. It may come as no surprise then that Jeff Gordon actually had the better run on Sunday by besting Kenseth in many Loop Data Statistics categories. Jeff had a higher driver rating; completed 100% of his laps inside the top ten; had an average running position of 2nd, and was passed only 11 times under the green flag. Alas, it is the final lap that matters the most.

The team’s car haulers make the trek back across the country to Las Vegas for this weekend’s race. Below are the drivers from each manufacturer who I believe will give them the best chance for a win this week.

ford logoKicking off the season with two consecutive wins certainly helps put you on the “Favorite to Win” list. Regardless, Matt has to be Ford’s best hope at a win in Vegas. In the last four races there he’s posted an average finish of 8.5 with finishes of 8th, 2nd, 4th, and finally a 20th in last years event. He has collected an average of 148 points in each of those four races.

chevrolet logojeff gordon california auto club 500I’m going to say that Jeff Gordon will be Chevy’s best chance for a win. Not only did he best Kenseth in loop data stats at California, but Gordon pretty much matched Kenseth in Daytona as well. Jeff’s Vegas stats alone make him a natural choice to win. In 2008, while running 4th in the final laps of the race, Gordon was caught up in a crash. Had he maintained that 4th place finish, he would have posted four consecutive top 5 finishes in Vegas since 2005. With an average running position of 7th in Vegas, and a wave of momentum in 2009, Gordon has a great chance to break his winless streak.

toyota logoLas Vegas is the Busch brothers hometown, yet neither of them have taken the checkered flag there in Sprint Cup competition. After winning both the Truck and Nationwide series races in California, Kyle failed to get the 3rd win for a California sweep. However, he could get that 3rd NASCAR win of the season this Sunday. Over the last four Vegas races he has collected an average of 154 points per race. His average start, closer position, running position, and finish position is 6th.

dodge logoKurt Busch and Kasey Kahne have very, very similar loop data statistics at Las Vegas. I feel that both drivers were hit-or-miss throughout the 2008 season with the advantage going to Kahne. However, Kurt has started the year off right with consecutive top tens and he has slightly better numbers in some key loop data categories. I don’t look for either Kurt or Kasey to compete for a top ten finish, much less a win this weekend. However, momentum and the fact it’s Kurt’s home track make him Dodge’s best hope for a win.

My Pick To Win?

With three wins in the last four Vegas races, Jimmie Johnson will likely be most everyone’s favorite to win. However, I’m going to say that Jeff Gordon will claim his first of multiple wins this year. Be sure to check out who the “experts” think will win in Las Vegas.