“In the Know”
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
With four of the original 16 playoff drivers now eliminated in the Cup Series, the next round of playoff racing will see increased intensity. We’ve got 12 drivers set to battle it out in the next round at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26th at 7 PM ET, including SHR driver of the No. 4, Kevin Harvick.
“Since Las Vegas is a low wear track, we formulate our tread compounds to specifically introduce some wear on this type of surface,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Last fall, we were able to add a little more grip to the right-side tire at Las Vegas and a couple other similar tracks. After some positive results in 2020, we have brought that back to the track in 2021, and that has continued with earlier races at Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Michigan with this right-side.”
Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 in the Xfinity Series, heads home to Las Vegas to kick off the 2021 Xfinity Series Playoffs. After a third-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last Friday night, the 22-year-old Las Vegas native secured his spot in the postseason for the second year in a row, making him two-for-two in his Xfinity Series career. Catch the Xfinity Series race on September 25th at 7:30 PM ET.
NASCAR Cup Series Overview
● Event: South Point 400 (Round 30 of 36)
● Time/Date: 7 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 26
● Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 267 laps/400.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 80 laps / Final Stage: 107 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview
● Event: Alsco Uniforms 302 (Round 27 of 33)
● Date: Saturday, Sept. 25
● Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Time/TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
What Our Drivers are Saying:
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Subway Delivery Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
You were very consistent throughout the regular season and that has continued into the playoffs. How important is it to maintain that consistency?
“We’ve gone about this a number of different ways throughout the years. We’ve pointed our way through and we’ve won our way through when our backs were against the wall. You’ve got to take what each race will give you, and there’s no way you can force things. That’s where a lot of people get themselves in trouble – when they start trying to do things outside their comfort zone of where their car is that particular day. Some days you have what you have and you need to get that finish with your car, and if you do that, usually you finish better than probably you would have otherwise. Las Vegas is no different. We’ll just have to go out there and grind away and see where we end up.”
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How can you look back on this season and the playoff run?
“I mean, our season as a whole was not what we wanted with all of the bad luck and performance. We went to Loudon and pulled out a win, which was awesome, and then just kind of had a renewed sense of energy going into the playoffs and thought we were going to do everything we needed to do in the first round to transfer to the next round and, unfortunately, it didn’t pan out. I can’t blame it on Bristol. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the first two races where we gave up some points, as well, so I can find two points in a lot of different places. A badly timed caution at Darlington, a loose wheel at Richmond, and mechanical issues at Bristol put us right on the edge of advancing and we just didn’t have enough to get there, but I’m super proud of this team for never giving up on what has been one of the most challenging and character-building years of my career.”
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve only got a handful of races left in your rookie season. Are you looking forward to the offseason, or are you sad to see it end?
“It’s coming quickly. It’s crazy to think we’re almost done. It feels like the Daytona 500 was just last month. This season has been flying by and, in a way, it’s unfortunate but it’s exciting to see what the new car is going to bring. We’re getting back to what NASCAR used to be, in a way, with offseason testing and the preparation. It’ll be cool to experience that and start with a clean slate. This rookie year has been harder and harder to catch up to the veterans without practice. It’ll be kind of an even playing field and interesting to see who can figure out the new car the quickest. The people who do that will have a huge advantage at the start of the season.”
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Greyhound Cocktail Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Now that you’re down to the final seven races of the season, what kind of things are you looking to accomplish as you navigate the home stretch?
“The biggest thing is trying to end on a high note for all the guys who have worked so hard this year to get us going in the right direction. I think we’re doing that at Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s just a matter of doing it consistently and executing how we need to. You also want to help your teammates who are still in contention for the championship, but there’s only so much you can do, at times. You can do little things but, at the same time, it’s all about getting a championship for a Stewart-Haas car, so we’re going to do whatever we have to and help our teammates as they pursue that. The advantage of having a four-car team is being able to try different things and to share that information with whoever needs it.”
Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 South Point Ford Mustang (Xfinity Series)
You’re coming off back-to-back top-five finishes for the first time this season and it comes at the right time with the playoffs starting this week at Las Vegas. Talk about the momentum your team now has coming into this first race of the Round of 12.
“We’re hitting our stride and it’s honestly a really good time for that. While we struggled somewhat during the season, we were still able to make the playoffs and I think we’ve finished in the top-10 in eight of the past 12 races. We’ve still got some work to do to get ourselves into the Round of 8, but I believe in this No. 98 team. We’ve got to take it week by week.”
Since joining SHR in 2014, Kevin Harvick has finished among the top-10 in seven of the 11 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Las Vegas. In that span, Harvick has led 621 laps and won twice – March 2015 and March 2018. Harvick’s win at Las Vegas in March 2018 was his 100th career victory across NASCAR’s top-three national touring series – Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck. He has since scored 19 more Cup wins to bring his tally to 119 total victories – 58 in Cup, 47 in Xfinity and 14 in Truck. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have surpassed 100 wins across NASCAR’s top-three series: Kyle Busch (222 wins), Richard Petty (200 wins) and David Pearson (106 wins). Harvick has a total of 12 top-10s at Las Vegas, the most of any active NASCAR Cup Series driver. Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are next best with 11 top-10s apiece.
In 16 starts at Las Vegas, Aric Almirola has three top-10 finishes, which all came in his first three starts since joining SHR in 2018. Almirola locked himself into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his July 18 victory at New Hampshire. He led 46 laps around the flat, 1.058-mile oval en route to his third career NASCAR Cup Series win. After a year full of adversity and bad luck, the victory put the No. 10 team, which was 27th in the standings and facing a must-win situation if it was going to compete for this year’s championship, in prime position to earn one of the 16 coveted berths in the 10-race playoffs. Although Almirola did not advance to the Round of 12, this was his fifth playoff appearance and fourth consecutive playoff appearance since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). While he can no longer compete for a championship, Almirola can compete for a top-10 points standing before the checkered flag drops at the season finale Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway.
Sunday’s 400-mile race at Las Vegas will be Cole Custer’s 69th Cup Series start and his fifth on the 1.5-mile oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 16th-place finish last September was the best of his first four Cup Series visits to Las Vegas. The desert oval is where Custer made his Cup Series debut in the March 2018 race, when he started 30th and finished 25th in the No. 54 Rick Ware Racing Ford. In five NASCAR Xfinity Series outings at Las Vegas from 2017 through 2019, all behind the wheel of the No. 00 SHR Ford, Custer started on the pole in each of the last three, and he posted top-10 finishes in each of the last four with a best of third in the September 2018 race. He also led a total of 54 laps in Xfinity Series competition at Las Vegas.
Despite finishing 21st at Las Vegas in March, it has been one of Chase Briscoe’s more successful tracks. He swept both NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the venue during the 2020 season and both wins aided in his pursuit of the championship. The first win on Feb. 23 secured Briscoe’s spot in the 12-driver playoff field, and the follow-up win in October locked him into the Round of 8. The No. 98 team went on to win once more at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City to advance to the Championship 4. Briscoe has five career Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas with the two wins among three top-10s. He also made a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series appearance at the 1.5-mile oval in September 2017, starting third and leading the first 40 laps before finishing third in a Ford F-150.
The Alsco Uniforms 302 will mark Riley Herbst’s fifth career Xfinity Series start at Las Vegas. The 22-year-old driver is on the hunt for redemption at his home track after an accident ruined a top-10 run for him just 56 laps into the series’ prior race at the track in March. In his first two Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas in September 2019 and February 2020, Herbst scored back-to-back ninth-place finishes. He finished 12th in his third career start at Las Vegas last September.
Of Special Interest
Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com