When one lands in Sin City, immediately they are met with casino lights, the sounds of slot machines, and the sounds of money.

Bright neon lights make up a single street, nicknamed "The Strip" where hotels are as tall as city skylines, there's enough colors to make Crayola jealous, and enough money to make Donald Trump wish he had applied for the gambling license for his hotel.

It's simply Las Vegas, the city of lights.

For NASCAR, it's not the Strip that makes fans come to the city, although that is something they take in.  Instead, what they arrive for is down the road, at the 1.5-mile speedway that debuted in 1998.

Now, the third race of the season welcomes the stars of the sport, and provides a third test for the new race car.

Writers have all their picks locked in, and they are ready to make their own gamble, hoping to hit the jackpot.  Here is a look at their picks for the Kobalt Tools 400:


Misan Akuya:  Tony Stewart

The last two years here Smoke has lead close to if not over 300 laps and has finished second and first.  Nuff said.

Rob Blount:  Carl Edwards

No reason.

James Broomhead:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Kelly Crandall:  Jimmie Johnson

If Carl Edwards can win the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in the Subway car, then Johnson can win the Kobalt Tools 400 in the Kobalt Tools car.

Billy Fellin:  Jimmie Johnson

Following the trend of "drivers win their sponsor's race" but also because Johnson has been on a tear to open this season, with a first and second thus far.

I expect him to run strong again at one of his best tracks.

Michael Hirshbein:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  Kyle Busch

He deserves a break, damn it. Home track success it is!

Kara Martin:  Brad Keselowski

No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Jimmie Johnson

We are going back to the old style of racing and I'm going with 2-time. Pun intended.

Won three races here in a row at one point and he won't be the most dominant car, but late strategy will prevail the 48 to victory and expect the 24 to be a threat as well.

Dustin Parks:  Jimmie Johnson

I GIVE!!  There is no question the hottest driver right now on the circuit is that 48 team.  I mean to follow up his Daytona 500 win he was runner-up at Phoenix.  Only way to better that is to win the first two races, and last guy to do that was Kenseth in 2009.

Why not go with him in his sponsor's race?  The writing is on the wall, just give the dude the title belt that goes to the victor.

Patti Rodisch:  Jimmie Johnson

I am going to ride the hot hand as we head into Las Vegas. Hendrick Motorsports has proven that they are still the top organization in NASCAR even with this new car. Jimmie Johnson hasn't finished worse than second this season.

Expect Johnson to continue his torrid start this weekend at Las Vegas. At LVMS Johnson has four wins, five top fives and six top 10s. Johnson will get it done this weekend in Vegas.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Jimmie Johnson

This team is really focused and off to a great start. Last weekend I was on pit lane shooting photos, and a writer walked up to Chad to get an interview. Chad looked over and said, "Cant you see I'm working."

Rob Tiongson:  Matt Kenseth

Because it just seems like it's time for the 2003 Cup champ to break into VL with his new team - it may just happen!


Standings following Phoenix:

Patti Rodisch (78) Brad Keselowski finished 4th (0)

Rob Tiongson (68) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)

Ryan O'Hara (56) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)

Sal Sigala Jr. (51) Brad Keselowski finished 4th (0)

Misan Akuya (46) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)

Rob Blount (45) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)

Billy Fellin (43) Denny Hamlin finished 3rd (0)

Christopher Leone (43) Denny Hamlin finished 3rd (0)

Kelly Crandall (40) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)

Dustin Parks (34) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)

Michael Hirshbein (31) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)

James Broomhead (23) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)

Kara Martin (23) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)


Final Thoughts:  Judging by the picks this week, most of our players are playing it safe while at the casino, picking the odds and going with the best bet.  But, this is Vegas, sometimes the underdog ultimately can be the one to steal the show.

But, the time has come to gamble, and no better place than Las Vegas.

FOX has the pre-race at 2:30 p.m. ET, with the green flag waving an hour later.


Summary of Picks:

Jimmie Johnson-6

Kyle Busch-3

Carl Edwards-1

Matt Kenseth-1

Brad Keselowski-1

Tony Stewart-1