Last weekend’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was dominated by Christopher Bell as he went on to lead 143 of the 163 laps. Cole Custer ended up 2nd with Justin Allgaier rounding out the top 3. The Xfinity Series heads into Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the running of the Boyd Gaming 300. There will be two Monster Energy Cup Series drivers in the field this weekend with Austin Dillon piloting the #10 for Kaulig Racing and Kyle Busch gets behind the wheel of the #18 for the first time this season. Let’s get straight to the projections!
Kyle Busch – Kyle leads the Xfinity Series in all-time wins and he is back behind the wheel this weekend. An obvious choice as a potential dominator this week, his last Xfinity win came in June of last year. There are a few causes of concern this weekend for me though, one is his crew chief is Ben Beshore as this is his first full time season as a crew chief. Also, his salary is pretty high up there and fitting other quality drivers in with him will be a challenge. If there is any doubt that he may not be the dominator this week it may be best to look elsewhere. But as of now, I am sticking with Rowdy at his home track of Las Vegas.
Christopher Bell – Christopher had a dominant performance last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway bringing Toyota its first win for the Supra. It didn’t take long for Bell to take the lead and never look back as he started 3rd and went on to lead over three-quarters of the race. His previous two races at Las Vegas he holds an average finish of 3rd. I like that stat based on the fact that he finished 2nd in this race a year ago in a field that had four Monster Energy Cup Series drivers. Look for Bell to pick up where he left off at Atlanta this week in the Sin City.
Cole Custer – Cole came up just short last week at Atlanta, as he chased Bell for most of the race. A late race restart found Cole back in 2nd place closing in on the leader with a handful of laps to go. I am actually leaning toward Custer more this week than Bell due to his crew chief Mike Shiplett, who swept both races last year at Las Vegas with Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain behind the wheel. Shiplett will have the #00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang dialed in this weekend with what could be a similar setup to the one that won those 2 races last season.
Justin Allgaier – Justin holds an impressive average finish of 3rd in the 3 previous races at LVMS. He has been so close to victory here; this week may be his week. This season so far has been solid for the #7 BRANDT Agriculture Chevy, he finished 2nd at Daytona and 3rd last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With Bell and Custer probably being the majority owned this week, Allgaier may be one of the sneakiest picks of the weekend.
Mid Tier Drivers
Brandon Jones – In the two races so far this year Brandon has scored top 5’s in each. He has 4 career starts at LVMS with an average finish of 8.8, the two events in 2018 he scored back to back 7th place finishes. He has momentum to start the season as he and crew chief Jeff Meendering have started to create good chemistry. He should be a solid mid-tier pick for this weekend and with the Cup drivers in the field he may go low owned.
Noah Gragson – It has been a tough start for Noah and the #9 JR Motorsports Switch Camaro, he has shown the speed but just has not been able to get the top 5’s he needs. He hasn’t made a Xfinity start here but does have 3 truck starts to his resume’. The finishes of his previous LVMS races do not do it justice as he has been up front and led laps in all 3 of those races. I think Noah can be inside the top 8 this weekend and start to climb back up in the point standings.
Chase Briscoe – Chase has had good runs to start the 2019 season just doesn’t have the finish to show for them. He started 28th last weekend in Atlanta and was running inside the top 10 for the majority of the day. Towards the end of the race it looked like they went the wrong way on adjustments and lost the top 10 spot they held on the final restart. He will be relatively cheap again this week and should be considered as a solid mid-tier option.
Gray Gaulding – He was a must have in your lineup last week after qualifying got rained out Gray and the SS Green Light Racing team found themselves starting all the way back in 35th. Gray did a great job of making his way up through traffic and finishing in the 16th position. I think Gray will be another good pickup this weekend in Vegas.
Brandon Brown – No one saw this coming! Brandon is currently in 15th in Xfinity Series points with a 18th and a 13th place finish in the two completed races. He is only planning on running the 86 through the west coast swing, but he will have the opportunity to pull off another top 15 finish this weekend at LVMS.