The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kick off this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the South Point 400. Sixteen drivers will vie for the title over the final 10 races of the season.
This first of the three-race Round of 16 is on the 1.5-mile Sin City track for the second year in a row. The point totals have been reset for the playoffs, with regular-season champ Kyle Busch leading the way in the standings by a 15-point margin over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.
Here is the rest of the need-to-know information for Sunday’s playoff opener.
Las Vegas is a 1.5-mile, tri-oval asphalt track with 20-degree banking in the turns and 9-12 degree banking on the front and backstretch. The track was built in 1996, and the Cup Series has been racing there since 1998.
The race at Las Vegas will feature the 2019 rules package with aero ducts and a tapered-spacer engine generating a targeted 550 horsepower.
Each team will be provided with three sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radial tires for practice, one set for qualifying and 10 sets for the 400-mile race (nine, plus one transferred from practice or qualifying).
The Monster Energy Series gets a break from its string of hard-wear tracks with its trip to Vegas.
“Las Vegas is widely known on the NASCAR circuit as a track that does not wear tires,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “That is an important concern for Goodyear and the race teams because when tires don‘t wear, they don‘t shed rubber and therefore retain more heat. What that requires us to do is bring tread compounds that will wear more and help the tire run cooler. We’ve done a lot of development work in this area, with a number of tracks that have ‘smoother’ surfaces. We’ve come up with a successful right-side tire that accomplishes that, and we now bring that to multiple tracks — Texas (Motor Speedway), Kansas (Speedway), Michigan (International Speedway) and Kentucky (Speedway), in addition to Las Vegas.”
Nine different drivers have won the pole for the last nine Las Vegas races that held qualifying.
All six of the active Monster Energy Series drivers with wins at Las Vegas (Busch, Keselowski, Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.) are also former Cup Series champions.
Source: Racing Insights
This weekend‘s race will air live Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and streamed on the NBC Sports App. Radio coverage can be found on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Also, follow along on NASCAR.com for live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the live leaderboard, Drive (featuring in-car cameras) and RaceView (subscription: in-car audio, stats, more). Be sure to set your lineup in Fantasy Live and make your picks in the Props Challenge.
2018 RACE WINNER
Keselowski is the defending race winner at Las Vegas, a victory that capped his third straight win during a 2018 hot streak that also included triumphs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway. Keselowski scored Team Penske’s 500th organizational win with this checkered flag. He avoided a series of wrecks and mishaps that befell several other playoff drives, and he beat Kyle Larson to the finish line in a two-lap, overtime shootout.
ACTIVE LAS VEGAS WINNERS
Johnson, four times; Keselowski, three times; Harvick, two times; Logano, Truex and Busch, one time each.