How the NASCAR playoff drivers fare at Las Vegas

Yahoo Sports

Welcome to the NASCAR playoffs. Before each playoff race we’re going to take a look at how each of the playoff drivers have done at the track hosting the upcoming race. Las Vegas kicks the 10-race playoff system off, so let’s get started

South Point 400
Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday, Sept. 16
3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Aric Almirola

10 starts
1 top 10
Average finish: 26.2

Almirola has the worst Vegas performance of any playoff driver. He hadn’t finished in the top 10 until he was 10th this spring. That’s the finish to pay the most attention to given that it’s his only race at the track with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Chase Elliott

3 starts
1 top 10
Average finish: 25.0

If Elliott’s Vegas pattern continues he’s on track for a top-five finish on Sunday. He crashed out in his first race at the track and finished 38th. He was third in 2017 and then 34th earlier this year because of a crash.

Kurt Busch

17 starts
1 top 5, 4 top 10s
Average finish: 22.5

Busch’s struggles at Vegas surprised us. He was ninth after starting first in 2016. It’s his best finish at the track in the last six races and ties his best finish at the track dating all the way back to 2005, when he finished third on the old layout.

Clint Bowyer

13 starts
1 top 5, 4 top 10s
Average finish: 17.8

Bowyer has finished 10th and 18th in his two Las Vegas races with SHR. He had finished outside the top 20 in his previous four races at the track.

Austin Dillon

6 starts
1 top 5, 1 top 10
Average finish: 16.7

Dillon was fifth in 2016, 25th in 2017 and 13th earlier this spring. He’s finished on the lead lap in just two of his six Vegas starts.

Brad Keselowski

10 starts
2 wins, 4 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Average finish: 14.5

Keselowski has been the best driver at Vegas at recent memory. He finished outside the top 25 in his first four starts at the track. Since then, he’s gone third, first, seventh, first, fifth and sixth.

Kevin Harvick

18 starts
2 wins, 5 top 5s, 8 top 10s
Average finish: 14.1

Harvick won at Vegas earlier this year but the win didn’t count for playoff purposes because of inspection violations that included a dented windshield. Remember that internet kerfuffle? He’s been feast or famine at Vegas in his five races with SHR. He’s had mechanical issues in two races and finished first, seventh and first in the three others.

Kyle Busch

14 starts
1 win, 6 top 5s, 7 top 10s
Average finish: 13.3

Busch’s Vegas win came in 2009 when he started and finished first. That race went 18 laps longer than scheduled. He was second to Harvick in the spring and should be right there again on Sunday.

Kyle Larson

5 starts
2 top 5s, 3 top 10s
Average finish: 13.2

Larson has never led a lap at Las Vegas. Kind of crazy. He’s finished second and third in each of the last two races at the track so he should be a contender.

Denny Hamlin

13 starts
2 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Average finish: 12.6

Hamlin’s never finished worse than 22nd at Las Vegas. But he’s also been a relative yo-yo within the top half of the field from year-to-year. In 2015 he was fifth. He was 19th in 2016. He finished sixth in 2017. And was 17th earlier this year. Why yes, he sped on pit road in March.

Martin Truex Jr.

13 starts
1 win, 3 top 5s, 5 top 10s
Average finish: 12.5

Truex won at Vegas in 2017 and was fourth in the spring. He hasn’t finished worse than 14th there since joining Furniture Row Racing in 2014.

Erik Jones

2 starts
1 top 10
Average finish 11.5

Jones’ finishes at Las Vegas are 15th and 8th. Small sample size.

Jimmie Johnson

17 starts
4 wins
Average finish: 11.0

Johnson has the best winning percentage at Vegas but hasn’t won at the track since 2010. Since then he’s finished 16th, second, sixth, sixth, 41st, third, 11th and 12th. That’s not a good three-year trend. Johnson would be well-served with a top 10 Sunday.

Joey Logano

10 starts
3 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Average finish: 9.7

You’re going to see the clip of Logano and Kyle Busch from 2016 at Las Vegas a bunch this weekend. Book it. Logano finished second that year and has finished fourth and seventh since. His last finish outside the top 10 at LVMS came in 2013 when he was 12th.

Ryan Blaney

4 starts
1 top 5, 3 top 10s
Average finish: 9.2

Blaney was 19th in his first start at Las Vegas in 2015. He’s been sixth, seventh and fifth in the three years since. Will he finish fourth or eighth on Sunday?

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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