Cup Series Preview: Las Vegas(Playoffs)

The 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series has flown by. It is already September and the stock car racing’s premier division has reached its climax with the start of the playoffs. 16 drivers qualified for the postseason and in nine weeks, the field will be cut to four for the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. This Fall journey begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, located just north of The Strip.

Yesterday, Clint Bowyer claimed his first pole since 2007 while being joined by all three of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates in the first two rows. Kurt Busch starts fifth and will be the highest-starting Chevrolet while Chase Elliott starts eighth.

The rest of the playoff field did not fare as well. Denny Hamlin(13th) and William Byron(14th) will roll-off from row number seven. Kyle Larson starts 15th. Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski start in row number nine. Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch start in row ten. Joey Logano drives the number 22 and will start 22nd. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. start from row twelve and Erik Jones will start deep in the field at 26th to round out the playoff drivers.

Track conditions will be hot and slick as the race will begin in the late afternoon with Vegas weather being around 100 degrees. Numerous adjustments will be made as the race speeds into darkness and track temperatures begin to cool down. However, with the high-downforce aero package, tire wear will not be as much of a factor as it was during this race last year.

From what appeared last night, the grandstands should be in the shade for a majority of tonight’s race, which will ensure that the fans will not be melting like last year. There will be no need to loiter in the walkways.

The stage lengths for the race are 80-80-107. Crew chiefs are saying that the fuel window will be around 60-65 laps, so do not expect to see someone pull off a Tyler Reddick miracle from last night. Drivers will receive ten sets of tires to use throughout the race.

With tonight’s race being an impound race, the starting lineup is not official, therefore the lineup will be sorted out after inspection.

I am going with Kyle Larson to win tonight. The high line was working well for the Xfinity drivers and once tires begin to wear, expect to see Larson wall-riding the entire track.

You can catch the race on NBC Sports Network; coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with the green flag dropping at 7:16 p.m. ET.

Photo via Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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