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Handicapper makes picks for Pennzoil 400

History shows that NASCAR Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are usually won by the top drivers and teams.

But that may have changed last year when Alex Bowman took the checkered flag for the Pennzoil 400 at 20-1 odds.

Handicapper Micah Roberts of SportsLine.com expects that same type of parity for Sunday’s race, with “up to 18 to 20 cars” that have a chance to win.

“It shows how close the competition is at the top compared to years past,” Roberts said. “It means that a lot of people can lead laps. It means a surprise winner can happen.”

Kyle Busch of Las Vegas is seeking his second career Cup win at his hometown track and is the 5-1 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook to win the Pennzoil 400.

Ryan Blaney is at 7-1 along with Joey Logano, who won this race in 2019 and 2020 and also finished first in the South Point 400 at LVMS in October.

Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson are next at 8-1. Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are 12-1, with William Byron listed at 14-1.

Chase Elliott will not drive after he was injured while snowboarding in Colorado, Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday. Josh Berry will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet in place of Elliott.

Despite their short prices, Roberts is backing favorites Busch, Chastain and Larson, the 2021 Pennzoil 400 winner.

“Ross Chastain, he’s the one who comes to mind,” Roberts said. “I expect (Busch) to lead a lot of laps and be in the top five a lot.”

Roberts uses the race at Fontana, California, which is on a similar track to LVMS, as a barometer for the Pennzoil 400. Last week, there were 23 lead changes among 15 drivers, and Roberts expects to see something similar Sunday.

Busch won the race in Fontana.

“I think you’ll have multiple runs. You’re not going to see Martin Truex win by leading 150 laps or more,” Roberts said.

Further down the betting board, Roberts believes there is value in Kevin Harvick, a two-time Cup winner at LVMS, at 20-1 along with Daniel Suarez (25-1), Bubba Wallace (30-1) and long shot Aric Almirola (100-1).

Noah Gragson of Las Vegas is 80-1.

“I’d still say the Chevys have it,” Roberts said. “That would be where I would lean to.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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