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What to watch: Full guide to Las Vegas spring 2021 Cup race

NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas (⏰ 3:30 p.m. ET | 📺 FOX | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s race, the fourth points-paying NASCAR Cup Series event of the 2021 season. 

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile layout located in Las Vegas
Green flag: 3:49 p.m. ET
TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR
Forecast: Partly sunny with a high near 78, according to NOAA.gov
National anthem: Jessie James Decker
Grand marshal: Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr
Race Distance: 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Stages: 80 | 160 | 267
Pit-road speed: 45 mph
Caution car speed: 55 mph
Starting lineup: Kevin Harvick on Busch Pole
Pit stall assignments:
See where cars line up | Why Rodney Childers didn’t pick first stall

2021 Truex Vegas
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Five to watch

Here are five big story lines we’ll be following.

1. Does this weekend mark the start of Martin Truex Jr.‘s impending 2021 dominance? It just might. The 6-1 favorite to win Sunday, Truex is the only multi-time Cup Series winner for Toyota at Las Vegas. Intermediate tracks have been the 2017 champ’s meat and potatoes for the past half decade, and it’s possible — if not likely — he flexes on the field this weekend for his second victory with second-year crew chief James Small. Both of his Vegas wins have come since the start of 2017. “I feel good about our team and where we’re at,” Truex said. “We had a really strong run in Miami last weekend and led some laps. We’re really close.”

2. Chris Buescher muscled his way to the front of the field at Homestead-Miami Speedway, spending 57 circuits leading the pack and looking like a boss while doing it. He eventually faded as the race wore on, but teammate Ryan Newman landed a seventh-place finish — his best non-superspeedway finish since the 2019 finale. It’s clear Roush Fenway Racing had speed at Miami, the only question is if it’ll carry on to the rest of the season, starting with similarly configured Vegas. I lean toward yes, but time will tell.

RELATED: Fantasy: Favorites, Hail Mary picks for Vegas

3. Chase Briscoe‘s rookie season has very much not gone according to plan thus far, with a best finish of 18th through three races and a points position of 25th. Last year’s Xfinity Series stalwart came into 2021 with high expectations, which have not been met thus far. It’s early, however,  and this weekend could be just what the super-talented Briscoe needs — two of his series-best nine wins in 2020 came at the Nevada track.

4. You could pretty much say all of the same things about Briscoe’s veteran Ford stablemate in Matt DiBenedetto, as the veteran’s season has been a nightmare so far, but Sunday should offer some respite. Matty D notched a pair or runner-up finishes at Las Vegas last year, which has to be helping to keep his head up rolling into the weekend. Through three races so far, the playoff hopeful DiBenedetto has accumulated just 14 total points and an average finish of 32.7.

5. Kurt Busch is the most recent winner at the track, having finally captured the checkered flag at his home digs last fall. In no way would we rule out the former champion this weekend — especially given how strong he has looked through three races thus far — but that win certainly stands as an anomaly on his racing resume. His previous 10 Vegas races netted just two top 10s and eight finishes of 21st or worse.

Race-day staples

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Getty Images

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

Power Rankings: Michael McDowell rides season-opening hot streak into top 10 | See the ranks
Paint Scheme Preview: 2021 Las Vegas tripleheader spring weekend | See the schemes
Fantasy Fastlane: See which drivers to use, avoid | Full Fantasy advice | Set your roster
Preview Show: Jonathan Merryman and Alex Weaver preview the race | Watch the show

Get in on the action

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

Track history

Kyle Fight Main
NDM

Every track has a story to tell. Here’s what we’ve seen go down at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the past.

Memorable moments at Las Vegas | See the moments
All-time track winners | See the list
Top 10 lap leaders at Las Vegas Motor Speedway | See the list
Throwback: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano tangle on Vegas pit road in 2017 | Watch the video
Relive Jeff Gordon’s 2001 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 win | Watch the race

Fast facts

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski is a three-time Las Vegas winner with a top-10 finish in 10 of the last 11 races at the track.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson is a nine-time runner-up on 1.5-mile tracks, two of which came at Las Vegas.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman finished seventh last week at Miami, his first top 1o on a 1.5-mile track in more than a year.
Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing finished sixth at Las Vegas last spring in his best-ever finish on a 1.5-mile track.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch has just one win at his home track in the Cup Series but a total of six spread across all three national series.

Catch the pack

Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

Backseat Drivers: Do top teams have to worry after early chaos? | Hear the debate
NASCAR reveals procedures, details for inaugural Bristol Motor Speedway dirt-track weekend | Read more
Drivers offer impressions of Circuit of The Americas at Goodyear tire test | Read more
Penalty report: 10 teams fined for lug-nut violations at Homestead-Miami Speedway | Read more

Say what

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

“I think momentum is a big part of our sport. Momentum and confidence is hard to fabricate. You can’t just make it up. You either have it or you don’t and you only have it with results and performance, so I do think that. I do think that we have more confidence and, like I said, it affects every area from the shop to the pit stops to myself..” — Michael McDowell

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 20: NASCAR driver Kyle Larson poses for a photo during the 2021 NASCAR Production Days at FOX Sports Studios on January 20, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

“I was surprised. I thought there would be cobwebs and rust. But maybe because I raced so much last year in Sprint cars and open-wheel cars and dabbled in some Late Model stuff, I felt as fresh as ever in a race car. Your body just gets into a rhythm of even buckling in the car each week. When I got in the car and put my head and neck restraint on and buckling up and all that, everything just felt normal. It didn’t feel like I had been out of the car in long time.” — Kyle Larson

“We can be more aggressive now. At the same time, we know what it takes to win and be successful, so we don’t have to do anything much different, either. We can be a little more aggressive with the calls on pit road and the strategy calls to get track position and hold it. I feel like at Las Vegas we can be strong. We just need to go there and execute similarly to how we did last weekend in Homestead.” — William Byron