A good bet at Vegas: Happy Harvick is one to watch

Kevin Harvick has momentum from winning in Phoneix last week and has been fast so far at Las Vegas.

Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

Saturday’s final two rounds of practice for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway showed more of what the first two weeks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season has already revealed.

Kevin Harvick, last week’s winner at Phoenix, is freaky fast again at Las Vegas, his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS fifth overall in the final Happy Hour practice and second in fastest 10 consecutive lap average.

As been the case consistently this year, the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevys have been good, too: Jamie McMurray posted the fastest lap in Happy Hour, with teammate Kyle Larson sixth.

And, of course, the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets will be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday, as six-time Sprint Cup champion and four-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson had the best 10 consecutive lap finish in Happy Hour and second best in the morning practice. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been well up the charts as well.

Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano (pole) and Brad Keselowski (second) swept the front row for the second weekend in a row and they should be good, too.

But there may be a couple of interlopers to the party in the form of Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers, both of whom were wicked fast Saturday.

Neither driver has posted a top-10 finish so far this season, and neither is even in the top 20 in points. You wouldn’t know that by the way they ran Saturday, when Vickers and Bowyer were 1-2 in the first practice and Bowyer ran third in Happy Hour, the same position he qualified in.

Although MWR downsized over the winter, going from three full-time cars to two, with a partial – and as-yet undefined – schedule for Jeff Burton in a third car, the team has actually increased it’s number of engineers, with an eye towards improving performance on the fast 1.5-mile tracks.

So far in Las Vegas, the early returns are encouraging.

Later today, Bowyer and Vickers will get a chance to see if that early speed translates to a victory in the Kobalt 400.

Red-hot at Vegas: Kevin Harvick is freaky fast