After opening his Hendrick Motorsports career with back-to-back wrecks, Kasey Kahne enters Sunday's race at Las Vegas in an early hole. He took the first step to digging his way out by grabbing the pole for the Kobalt Tools 400 in record fashion. For Kahne, starting up front at a 1.5-mile track like Vegas is a good sign. Six of his 12 career Cup wins have come at 1.5-mile tracks, and five of his wins have come from the pole.
Of course, Kahne will have plenty of tough competition starting near the front. Although he will have to drop to the rear of the field after a wreck in practice, Nevada native and former Vegas winner Kyle Busch qualified on the front row and is still a threat to charge to the front. Fresh off a near win at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick will start third. Dropping back a bit further, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart qualified sixth and seventh. Johnson will be in a backup car, as well, but he also leads all drivers with four wins at Vegas and a 10.6 average finish. Stewart has finished seventh and second in his last two starts at the track, and he led the most laps at Vegas last year. Not to mention the fact that Stewart has won three of the last five Cup races at 1.5-mile tracks.
Fantasy owners looking to ride the hot hand in Vegas should consider Greg Biffle and Joey Logano. Both drivers qualified in the top 10, and both have posted top-10 finishes in the first two races of 2012. Other potential sleepers include Mark Martin and Marcos Ambrose, who will both start in the top 15. Martin has opened the year with back-to-back top-10 finishes, and Ambrose finished fourth at Vegas one year ago.
Surprisingly, the big name to avoid could be Carl Edwards. The defending winner of this weekend's race qualified outside the top 20. More importantly, he had a rather lackluster performance at Phoenix last weekend. It's early, but the preseason favorite to win the title may have a little work to do.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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