Updated March 3, 2021 - 4:29 pm
There will be fans in the stands at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday and an array of story lines up and down the starting grid for the 24th running of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube.
Here are three things of many to watch for in NASCAR’s annual spring fling at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
1. Grin and win
Topping any list of characteristics for which Joey Logano is known is his tendency to irritate other drivers, a cheesy smile and that he almost always runs up front in Las Vegas. The 2018 series champion and driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford for Roger Penske will be seeking a three-peat in the Pennzoil 400.
Logano is coming off a 25th-place finish at Homestead, Florida, but he was 12th and second in the two races at Daytona and would appear to be in a good spot (third in points) to make the other drivers see yellow again on Sunday.
Joey Logano cracks a smile after discovering the microphone was broken during winner's press conference. pic.twitter.com/Ida9aiV2SF
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) April 30, 2017
2. Bouncing back, forward
Two other cars worth keeping an eye on are a Toyota driven by Kyle Busch, which will look like a big box of chocolates (one-off sponsor: Ethel M Chocolates of Henderson) and another by Bubba Wallace, which will sport the No. 23 made famous by Michael Jordan, who co-owns it (along with NASCAR star Denny Hamlin).
Busch is a two-time Cup Series champion who is at the zenith of his career. But he is coming off a 2020 season in which he won just one race. Despite picking up his first top 10 of 2021 at Homestead last week, the irascible Las Vegas driver said this about his No. 18 ride over his radio: “Wow, man. We just (expletive) suck!”
With an influx of cash from his new co-owner, this was supposed to be the season Wallace jumped up in the standings. It still might be. But so far all he has to show for it are 17th-, 26th- and 22nd place-finishes, and a text or two from Michael Jordan.
"Wow, man. We just (expletive) suck!" Radioactive: Homestead-Miami Speedway. pic.twitter.com/FEgldR0btf
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 2, 2021
3. Consider the odds
If you’re looking for a crystal ball to determine a Pennzoil 400 winner, there are no shortages of sources.
Driver Averages.com says look no further than Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr., with average finishes of 5.33, 6 and 6.67 and four LVMS wins between them in the six races since 2018. Or one can consult the NBC power rankings which have Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Logano in its top three slots.
But the prudent thing to do is to check the local betting parlors. They always have the most skin in the game when it comes NASCAR (or anything else, for that matter). At the South Point Wednesday, one could wager on Kevin Harvick at plus-500 to win, Hamlin, Elliott and Truex Jr., at plus-700 and Kyle Larson, Keselowski and Logano at plus-1000.
— Las Vegas Motor Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) March 1, 2021
■ Bucked Up 200 Truck Series, 6 p.m. (Fan engagement area opens 2 p.m.; ticket gates, VIP suites open 4:30 p.m.)
■ Alsco Uniforms 300 Xfinity Series, 1:30 p.m. (Fan engagement area opens 11 a.m.; ticket gates, VIP suites open at noon.)
■ Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube 400 Cup Series, 12:30 p.m. (Fan engagement area opens 9 a.m.; ticket gates, VIP suites open 10:30 a.m.)
▶ Schedule subject to change.