Viva, Las Vegas! NASCAR kicks off their western swing of the schedule with the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And there are plenty of stories coming in to the second 1.5-mile racetrack of the year.
Here are your four key stories to follow with NASCAR at Las Vegas:
Can Ford Bounce Back?
After qualifying last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, many were impressed by the speed that Roush-Fenway Racing showed, with two cars in the top five. Meanwhile, Team Penske struggled in qualifying, with both cars languishing in the twenties. But by the end of the race, the two teams had switched their fortunes, with Penske bouncing back to near the top ten. The question is – can both teams show improved performance at Las Vegas?
After a 1-2 finish by Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Atlanta, is the Hendrick Motorsports mojo back? The end of 2015 was not the strongest for the team, and Daytona was not a good start to 2016. But could HMS be the top team to have gotten their hands around the new low downforce package?
NASCAR allowed teams to test on Thursday at Las Vegas to work on setups with new tires from Goodyear and the new aero package for 2016. That test did not end well for Denny Hamlin, who would get loose out of Turn 2 and wreck his primary car for the weekend. This puts the #11 team squarely behind the eight ball this weekend, but only time will tell if they can bounce back.
Rookies of the Race
So far in 2016, the top rookies have been what many expected – Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott. But could one of the other rookie contenders break to the top of the class after Vegas? Look for Brian Scott to perform this weekend, at a track where he has shown strength in both Xfinity and the trucks.
Tune in for the NASCAR Xfinity race, the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas, on Saturday afternoon on FS1. Then come back on Sunday for the Kobalt 400 from the strip, on your local FOX station.