Racing fits Vegas

Apr 8, 2008 7:00 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | Amid all the talk about Las Vegas trying lure a basketball, baseball, or hockey team, something to call our own in the city, a transition has occurred which many don’t realize even though they have participated in the movement.

Roberts Top 5 At Phoenix
1. #48 Jimmie Johnson
2. #29 Kevin Harvick
3. #18 Kyle Busch
4. #24 Jeff Gordon
5. #07 Clint Bowyer
TOP 10s
29 of 50

It’s happened right before our eyes with little fanfare, but reality has now set in. Las Vegas is pure and simply a motorsports town. Glance across the globe and you’ll find little competition as far as a city that offers as much motorsports excitement than Las Vegas. Every type of racing happens in Vegas.

We have the weekly short track racing and drag street racing at the Speedway. Then the major leagues arrive such as NASCAR, the World of Outlaws and this week’s visitor, the NHRA.

A few years ago the NHRA decided to make two trips to Las Vegas each season citing the great attendance by the locals as the main reason. Friday’s qualifying sessions have the entire NHRA organization amazed by how full the stands are. There is no place on the tour that is so full for just qualifying.

So here they are again this week on The Strip at LVMS. What makes Vegas so different from all the other venues is that legal wagering is offered on the three major classes of drag racing. This week’s favorites to win are Tony Schumacher, Robert Hight, and Greg Anderson.

If you have never been out to the Drag races, get out there and take the whole family. An absolute blast!

NASCAR at Phoenix

This week’s NASCAR race is a good old Saturday night special in the cool desert air of Phoenix on prime time TV. Though the season is only seven races old (with Carl Edwards winning three), the fans get a nice change of pace in both date and time. Phoenix also starts the first of six races on the flat mid-range tracks that include New Hampshire and Richmond.

Phoenix, New Hampshire, and Richmond look nothing alike, however, most of the crew chiefs that have success on one of those tracks do equally well on the other two. In most cases a successful team will bring the same car to all three tracks and sometimes for all sixes in a season. Obviously, the teams that don’t experience success have the need to try something different for each of those races.

The advantage that a bettor may have this season into the first of the six races on these type of tracks is the data from last season. Unlike some of the tracks this season where the new car will run for the first time, the COT ran a full schedule in all six races. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were the only drivers to finish in the Top 10 of all six races with Johnson winning three and Gordon one.

Following the two Hendrick drivers with the 3rd best rate of success on the six tracks was Denny Hamlin. He finished with a 7.3 average finish, but that was in a Chevy. This season Hamlin is in the new Toyota, but it’s apparent already that the team hasn’t missed a beat yet by switching cars and just might even be a little better.

We’ll take a page out of last season and expect to see the same cast of characters that excelled then to do the same this week. Jimmie Johnson is much overdue!

Micah Roberts is Race & Sports Director at Station Casinos and has contributed to GamingToday for the last 11 years.