NASCAR Sprint Cup at Las Vegas: 5 Dark Horses Sitting High in Points This Week

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2012

NASCAR Sprint Cup at Las Vegas: 5 Dark Horses Sitting High in Points This Week

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    As NASCAR rolls into Sin City for its third race of the season, some dark horses have stepped into the spotlight as those that are performing well early in the year. But who are the dark horses in the top 16 in points going into the Las Vegas race this Sunday?

    Some of the drivers may surprise you.

    Let's go take a look.

Martin Truex Jr.

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    Martin Truex Jr. pulled off a 12th at Daytona and a seventh in Phoenix to sit in a comfortable sixth in points, tied with another dark horse, teammate Mark Martin.

    Michael Waltrip Racing has a good group of drivers this year, and it looks like Truex Jr. will be in the mix come Sunday when it comes to the top spots.

    Truex Jr has only one top 10 at Las Vegas with his average finish at the track sitting at 17.5, according to, but he is comfortably in the top 12 by nearly 20 points.

Mark Martin

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    While it seems weird to have Mark Martin as a dark horse, it also seems weird to have multiple Michael Waltrip Racing drivers sitting in the top 10 in points.

    Martin currently sits tied in sixth with teammate Truex Jr and will only be driving a part time season this year. He has been in the top 10 at this track, ten times and has two top 10s this season.

    It's almost certain that Martin won't be high in points for most of the year due to his part time schedule but I expect that he will do well in Vegas to keep his names pretty high in the points through next week.

Joey Logano

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    When Joey Logano moved into the series, there was a lot of talk about how good the kid driver was. But the talk quickly died down when the driver didn’t work up to expectations after his first season.

    Logano looks like he may finally be ready to live up to his hype, sitting eighth in the points standings with two top 10 races this season.

    Like Truex Jr, Logano only has one top 10 at Vegas but has a 10th (Daytona) and ninth (Phoenix), respectively, in the two races this season. Logano isn't an extreme dark horse with the power he has behind him when it comes to his team but he is still one that is a little surprising to see up high in the points, even if it is early in the season.

Bobby Labonte

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    The first big shock of the points standings may be Bobby Labonte sitting in the No. 11 spots in points. Labonte proved last weekend that his top 15 in Daytona (14th) wasn’t just a fluke, finishing 16th in Phoenix.

    I don’t expect Labonte to be a top five or even top 10 driver this weekend but I do think he will grab a top 15 spot, and stay in the top 20 in points, when it is all said and done in Sin City.

Dave Blaney

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    Dave Blaney’s had a big year news wise but his biggest mention may have been as an almost winner of the Daytona 500 after the jet dryer explosion. The driver finished 15th in the 500 after the track was cleared and racing resumed and followed it up with a 23rd in Phoenix.

    Blaney has managed to grab the No. 16 points spot, only one point behind Tony Stewart and in front of drivers such as Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, and others.

    Should we expect a top 15 out of Blaney? Probably not, but we will probably see the Tommy Baldwin-owned car in the top 20 in results.