Saturday, February 28, 2009
Rusty Reckons: Viva Las Vegas
The fastest fellas in America return to one of the fastest cities, at least in terms of the people there. In terms of revenue, Vegas has been a boon to NASCAR. The race has been a sell-out recently, and with the big bucks on the strip, it's a good time for everyone involved. Then when they installed the progressive banking a few years ago, the racing started to get on par with the dollar signs.
For those newer fans, progressive banking is where the track is banked at different degrees vertically up the track. This creates multiple grooves of racing, which translates into more passing, running 2 wide etc. The COT has diffused some of the insanity that might have occurred with the older car, but we've still had some good racing of late.
Mr. Ed's the defending race winner, but Kyle Busch has been one of the highest rated drivers at Vegas in recent memory. The shrub also has the added advantage of starting the race from the pole, with his elder brother starting just to his outside. The Busch boys have done well at Vegas, possibly because it's their home track, but looking at the most recent speed charts they might have some serious competition. Jeff and Jimmie topped the speed charts on Saturday. Historically, Vegas has been one of Jimmie's worst tracks, but he might be feeling some pressure coming off a rather tepid start to the season. Might not see too many new faces up front this week, but Vegas should still give us some pretty exciting racing.
Pure and simple, Junior needs a top 20 finish. After having engine issues at Fontana, and a weak Daytona, the 88 team is hanging precipitously onto the 35th position in points. After Bristol, NASCAR will revert to this year's points to determine who's locked in each week, meaning Junior will need to improve his position to avoid having to qualify on time. Can you imagine Junior not making a race? The stands might be empty. Lucky for Junior nation, though, all the prognosticators including yours truly is certain Junior will rebound. Vegas might not be a strong track for him, but Atlanta and Bristol certainly are. I said at the outset, Junior was going to be better on tracks he hadn't quite mastered in the past. With a little bit of pressure to perform, he might start to emerge in sin city this coming weekend.