Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Monkey Knife Fight Picks

March 6, 2021

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing heads west to the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400. It will be 267 laps around the 1.5 mile, progressively banked, tri-oval in the hot Nevada desert. This season has given us our fair share of twists and turns along with exciting upsets. This week though, we return to a track where there are some clear favorites and several drivers who run well year after year. The field will be chasing Kevin Harvick from the outset and they might be doing it for most of the afternoon. Whatever ends up happening, we will be in for another exciting day of Cup series action. 

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Here are some of my favorite plays from this week’s contests. Scoring in these contests is based on finishing positions inside the Top 20 with 20 points awarded to first place. An additional 0.1 points are tacked on for each lap led. Below are some picks to help you get started in your MKF contests.

More Or Less

Kevin Harvick More Than 17.5 Points

Few drivers have owned the Las Vegas Motor Speedway the way Kevin Harvick has over his career. This is especially true since the 2015 season. Over the last six seasons, he’s led a total of 598 laps, won twice, and has had seven Top 10 finishes. This week, he will lead the field to the green flag. The last time he started within the top two spots, he went on to lead 214 laps on his way to the win.

This season has yet to finish worse than sixth. To cash this prop, you are looking for a third place finish if he leads no laps. It’s more likely that he will lead anywhere between 50-200 laps in this race. That means you can expect a decent chunk of points from these. If he manages to lead at least 50 laps, he can still finish as low as eighth and cash this prop. The more laps he can lead early, the lower his finishing position can be should he run into some trouble late. All in all, this might be the safest bet there is out there this Sunday.

Joey Logano More Than 16.5 Points

There are several drivers on this slate that will give Harvick a run for his money. Joey Logano is very much one of them. He’s in play as a race favorite despite his 15th place starting slot. In truth, he has almost as much of an ownership claim on this track as Harvick. Logano has run 15 times in Las Vegas, he has 10 Top-10 finishes. This includes back to back wins in the race that bears his sponsor’s name. On top of all that, he’s led at least one lap in each of the last ten races on this track.

He’ll have to work his way from the middle of the pack if he hopes to reach the fourth place finish he needs to cash this prop. Of course, if he can manage to lead a few laps along the way, he can stand to drop a couple of spots back and still be no worse for the wear. He’s got the potential to accomplish this task so make sure you lock in this pick.

Rapidfire

Brad Keselowski More Fantasy Points Than Ryan Blaney (+2.5)

Consistency is the key to this pick. Last season’s 13th place finish broke a 10-year streak of Top-10 finishes for Brad Keselowski. In that span he’s collected three checkered flags. He’s had his share of ups and downs so far this season. He was wrecked out of the Daytona 500, finished fifth on the road course, and led 47 laps last week in Miami, only to cross the finish line in the 16th position. This will be a get right week for Keselowski as he takes to a familiar track where he’s tasted consistent success.

Ryan Blaney is not to be slept on here and given his own success in Las Vegas. Blaney has six Top-10 finishes on this track with three Top-5’s in his six career starts. His two and half point head start may have you leaning in his direction. What should give you pause is the fact that he will start from the 26th position this Sunday. He’ll have to work his way through the field while Keselowski will benefit from a Top 10 starting spot. It’s highly likely Blaney will salvage another solid finish this week, but Keselowski has a better chance at a top-3 finish. If this is the case, betting on the No. 2 car is the right call. 

Kyle Larson (+0.5) More Fantasy Points Than Chase Elliot

You probably drive the same route to work everyday. You have your favorite streets to take to the store, your kid’s school, the bank, etc…etc… The point is, by now, you know every bump, every turn, every inch of that worn path. One can imagine, this is how Kyle Larson feels about the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his nine career starts on this track, he has enjoyed six t\Top-10 finishes; three of those were inside the Top-3. This week, Larson will get a five spot head start over Chase Elliot as he will begin from the third spot while Elliot begins in eighth. He’s primed to be in the running for the checkered flag at the end of the day. Even if he misses on the win, all he’ll need to do is finish just one spot ahead of Elliot to win this prop. There is a better than average chance he’ll do just that.

Elliot has one less start in Vegas than does Larson. Unlike Larson, Elliot only has three total Top-10 finishes. In fact, his average finish on the track is 21.5, which does not inspire much confidence. His two 2020 offerings here yielded a 26th, and a 22nd place finish. His track record alone should be enough to take this prop, but wait, there’s more. After an impressive second place finish at the Daytona 500, Elliot has yet to crack the Top 10. He was unable to capitalize on a start from the pole on the road course, turning it into a 21st place finish. Last week in Miami, he finished 14th. Given the wide range of outcomes for Elliot, banking on the safety Larson provides makes this prop work.