The 2017 NASCAR season is starting to hit its stride. After another eventful race last Sunday in Atlanta, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series rolls into Las Vegas this weekend for the Kobalt 400.
If we’ve learned anything so far, it’s that there are no guarantees that veterans will race well, or that young drivers will race poorly. The Cup season only is two races old, which isn’t much to go on when setting your fantasy lineup. That, however, is where we come in.
You might have a budget, or you might have a limit to the amount of times you can pick a given driver. Whatever your league’s format, we’ve got you covered in determining who to ride with Sunday, and who to stay away from.
Must pick: Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has looked great so far this season, including a victory Sunday in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. More importantly, Keselowski has won two of his last three races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him in victory lane again. He’ll face a stiff challenge from Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, who both have multiple career victors at LVMS, but the safe money is on Keselowski.
Stay away: Kyle Busch
Although Las Vegas is the Busch brothers’ hometown, Kyle hasn’t performed well historically there, outside of a victory in 2009. In his last six Kobalt 400 starts, Busch has two top-10 finishes, as well as two finishes outside the top 20.
If there’s one thing that everyone probably can agree on, it’s that Busch will make his displeasure known if things don’t go his way Sunday.
Sleeper pick: Kyle Larson
Larson was overtaken in the final laps of both races to begin the season, but he has a great chance of running well Sunday. Dating to the final race of last season, Larson has combined to lead 155 laps in his last three starts. Moreover, he’s held a lead during the final 10 laps in each of those races. Larson might not be a household name just yet, but that won’t be the case much longer.
Value pick: Erik Jones
The rookie hasn’t been in great position to pick up his first Cup race victory, but we expect him to start contending soon — maybe even this weekend. Jones never has competed in a Cup race at Las Vegas, but he finished third — after starting second — in an Xfinity Series race there last season. Jones is young, and he’s going to race like it from time to time, but he also has a ton of talent.
Thumbnail photo via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports Images