While last Sunday in Atlanta was our first race experience with the new 2015 rules package, I think Las Vegas this weekend will be an even different indicator. Las Vegas is a driver’s racetrack and a fast racetrack which should play into certain driver’s hands more than others.
We all felt like last week certain drivers like Kevin Harvick, eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano were going to have really fast cars — which they did.
Now when we get to Las Vegas, we literally have some bumps on the track the drivers will have to deal with. The track still has a lot of grip, which will make for some blazing speeds. We’re going to have an even better indication of who really has a good understanding this early of the new rules package.
I think there is more opportunity for some cars to be aero-loose and get spun out similar to what we saw with Denny Hamlin at Atlanta. I’ve talked to a lot of crew chiefs — they all commented on how this new aero-platform is super-sensitive. If you miss the setup of what the car likes, especially at the speeds they will be running out there, that could make for a very long day for some.
With the corner speeds we are going to see in Las Vegas, these drivers are going to have to find what their car likes to simply keep the car under them. The car has to have the ability to turn while not over-working that right-front tire, and also what we saw in Atlanta with not over-working the right-rear tire, either.
The other wildcard is there is a new tire for Las Vegas from the last time we were there, so there’s going to be a learning curve for a lot of people. To be successful Sunday, they are going to have to make that learning curve really, really short. Whoever latches onto it the best is going to end up in Victory Lane.