NASCAR

NASCAR at Las Vegas 2014: Start Time, Date, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, will start on the pole after turning the fastest lap during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2014

With two weeks already in the books, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will emanate from Las Vegas Sunday as 43 of the world's best drivers vie to take the checkered flag in the Kobalt 400.

Las Vegas has been a Sprint Cup stalwart since 1998, and the 1.5-mile track has proven to be a major challenge for the drivers. A select few have seemingly conquered the annual race, however, as there have been four repeat winners over 16 years.

Since so many elite drivers still haven't won in Sin City, though, there is little doubt that several of them will roll the dice. That is especially true now that a victory essentially guarantees a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Conservatism used to be the name of the game early in the NASCAR season, but now that teams are being rewarded for throwing caution to the wind, the races figure to get even more exciting.

Here is everything you need to know about the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas as drivers hope to get a little bit of luck and hit the jackpot in the form of a trip to Victory Lane.

 

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev.

When: Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Live Steam: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Performance Racing Network

Kobalt 400 Qualifying Order
StartDriverCar No.Speed (mph)
1Joey Logano22193.278
2Brad Keselowski2193.099
3Clint Bowyer15192.713
4Austin Dillon3192.678
5Jimmie Johnson48192.596
6Ricky Stenhouse Jr.17192.596
7Jamie McMurray1192.397
8Aric Almirola43192.335
9Brian Vickers55192.260
10Ryan Newman31191.939
11Carl Edwards99191.591
12Martin Truex Jr.78191.510
13Kasey Kahne5191.659
14Dale Earnhardt Jr.88191.618
15Jeff Gordon24191.618
16Kevin Harvick4191.598
17Kyle Larson42191.496
18A.J. Allmendinger47191.489
19Jeff Burton66191.435
20Kyle Busch18191.381
21Paul Menard27190.934
22Danica Patrick10190.543
23Kurt Busch41190.503
24Tony Stewart14189.514
25Greg Biffle16190.396
26David Ragan34189.893
27Denny Hamlin11189.767
28Cole Whitt26189.647
29Matt Kenseth20189.328
30Casey Mears13189.261
31Josh Wise98188.851
32Parker Kligerman30188.838
33David Gilliland38188.686
34Trevor Bayne21188.429
35Michael McDowell95188.271
36Alex Bowman23188.166
37Justin Allgaier51Owner Points
38Michael Annett7Owner Points
39Ryan Truex83Owner Points
40Reed Sorenson36Owner Points
41Timmy Hill33Owner Points
42Travis Kvapil32Owner Points
43Marcos Ambrose9Owner Points
NASCAR.com

 

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Having already won the Sprint Cup Series championship six times at the age of 38, it may not seem as though Jimmie Johnson has much left to accomplish. If he is to be considered the greatest driver of all time by the time he calls it quits, though, winning another title or two is likely necessary.

Johnson has performed well through the 2014 season's first two weeks, but he has yet to pick up a win. Pressure isn't exactly mounting yet since he has plenty of time left before the Chase, but he would undoubtedly love to get that first win out of the way. The odds would seem to be in his favor, as he is the winningest Sprint Cup driver since 2010, according to ESPN's John Buccigross:

Johnson has also had plenty of good fortune in Las Vegas. His four Vegas victories are the most ever, although he hasn't crossed the finish line first since 2010. After a strong qualifying run that slots him into the No. 5 starting position, Johnson is definitely in a good spot in terms of taking the No. 48 Lowe's machine to the front of the pack.

 

Matt Kenseth

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florid
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

If Johnson is the master of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, then it can certainly be argued that Matt Kenseth is nipping at his heels. Kenseth has enjoyed a great deal of success in Vegas, winning three times. That includes a victory last year that ultimately kick-started his season and sent him on track to finish second overall in points.

Kenseth will have more than just racing on his mind when he controls the No. 20 car Sunday. His pregnant wife is due to give birth soon, but he certainly seems to have a good sense of humor about it, per Dustin Long of Motor Racing Network:

Since Kenseth is one of the toughest competitors on the Sprint Cup circuit, it is unlikely that his focus and determination will waver in Las Vegas. In fact, Kenseth's crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, feels very good about his driver's chances Sunday, according to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

I'm anticipating that things are going to get exponentially better as we head to Las Vegas this weekend because I feel that we were able to learn so much last week at Phoenix in regards to the new rules package, as well as the new qualifying format.

Kenseth definitely knows how to win in Las Vegas, and he'll likely go all-in when it comes to trying to cement his Chase status.

 

Carl Edwards

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07: Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

After a difficult 2012 season that saw him go winless, Carl Edwards enjoyed a bounce-back campaign in 2013 with two victories. Now that there is such an emphasis on winning races, there is a great deal of pressure on Edwards to find Victory Lane prior to the Chase. That has often eluded him in recent years, as he has won just five times since picking up a career-high nine victories in 2008.

If there is one track at which Edwards can break that trend, however, it is Las Vegas. He has driven the No. 99 care to victory on two occasions in Vegas, and his car looks awfully good heading into Sunday's race. His qualifying position of No. 11 was somewhat disappointing, but he was the fastest in practice, per NASCAR on ESPN:

That means Edwards has the goods to get to the front and stay there for the majority of the race. Based on how the past few seasons have played out, it's safe to assume that he would like to get a win out of the way as soon as possible. Perhaps it will come in Vegas.

 

Prediction

All three of the highlighted drivers have a legitimate chance to win Sunday, but they're not the only ones. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski will start in the front row, and they are definite threats to win, as both have started the season off well.

Tony Stewart is another name worth considering. He has won in Las Vegas before, and he always seems to be in the mix at the end of the race.

The win-heavy format could lead to some surprise winners this season, and one dark horse to watch Sunday is Paul Menard. The underrated driver has three consecutive top-12 finishes in Vegas, so he should be within striking distance.

With all of that said, Johnson remains the king of NASCAR, and he is bound to get a win eventually. There is no reason why he can't tally his first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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