The rain has been plaguing everything NASCAR so far this year and now we’ve had Xfinity and Cup qualifying canceled. Thankfully, drivers got to go out and get two practice sessions in before mother nature showed up.

With this being the first real measuring stick we will get for the season to feel out how every driver is going to compete this year, it’s hard to really make predictions. You can’t determine whose going to be a contender and who is just going to be riding around all year until we get a few more races in.

Jimmie Johnson and Aric Almirola led the way in each of their respective practice sessions, but while Almirola has a fast car, I never trust the driver behind the wheel of the #10. I debated making Jimmie Johnson the dark horse for this race, but I still wanna see him run well consistently before I put my trust back into him.

I’ll give three drivers names, and each will be classified differently. A Favorite, who is a big name driver who is my favorite to win. A Dark Horse, a driver who would be considered an underdog but has just as much chance as anyone to win. Lastly, a Longshot, a driver who nobody would ever guess would even be contending. Guys who are generally running in the twenties each week.

Favorite: Kevin Harvick

I really wanted to put Joey Logano on here since he won the race last season and always runs great here, but I thought Harvick’s car looked faster and I feel a strong rebound coming from Harvick this season.

Last season wasn’t the usual domination that we expect from the #4 team and I think that Fords are going to be a powerhouse once again this year. If Harvick can jump out in front of Busch and Truex early, I have a feeling he will lead most of the laps.

Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer

The most consistent looking car in both practice sessions, finishing second in each. Once again, I think a Ford is going to win this race, and Bowyer seems to have the fastest one in the garage currently.

Last week at Daytona, Bowyer was my late-race favorite until a critical error cost him a shot on one of the last few restarts. I think that momentum carries over this week and we could see him in the top five all day.

Longshot: Ross Chastain

I’ve been beating the Chastain drum all week and watching him perform so well in the Truck race, run well in Xfinity practice, and run well in both Cup practices has me expecting him to show the NASCAR world something on Sunday.

I honestly would just expect a top fifteen finish to qualm my desire to see this guy perform well. The thing is, one of the few times he’s been given good equipment was here at Vegas in the Xfinity Series, and he went out and won that race for Chip Ganassi when nobody expected him to. I think there’s a chance we see this repeat again.

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