UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Track data:
Race #: 3 of 36 (3-11-07) Track Size: 1.5 Miles
Event: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 Number of Laps: 267
Location: Las Vegas, NV Length of Event: 400.5 Miles
Start time: 1:30 pm/pt TV: FOX

Qualifying/Race data:
Track qualifying record:Kasey Kahne 174.904 mph 3-5-04 30.874 seconds
Track race record:Mark Martin 146.554 mph 3-1-98 2 hrs, 43 min, 58 sec

Historical data:
Previous winners at Las Vegas:
Jeff Burton (2) Matt Kenseth (2) Mark Martin (1) Jeff Gordon (1) Sterling Marlin (1)
Jimmie Johnson (1)  Greg Biffle (2006)
Races won from the pole: 0 of 9 events (0%)
Races won from in top 10: 3 of 9 events (33%)
Races won from outside top 10: 6 of 9 events (67%)

Track Milestones
• Dale Jarrett won the inaugural Bud Pole at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Feb. 27, 1998).
• Mark Martin won the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the Las Vegas (March 1, 1998).
• The 2000 Carsdirect.com 400 is the only Las Vegas race that has been rain-shortened. The race was called complete after 148 laps; 222 miles.

Track Update
Roush Racing had five drivers finish in the top-10 in the inaugural Las Vegas 400 in 1998. Roush Racing drivers have won five of the nine races at Las Vegas: Mark Martin (1998), Jeff Burton (1999 and 2000), and Matt Kenseth (2003 and 2004). Martin is the only driver that has posted six top-10 finishes there.

Manufacturer Update
Three active manufacturers have posted at least one victory at Las Vegas in the past six years. Ford won the first three races there (1998-2000) then returned to victory lane in 2003 and 2004. All five Ford victories were posted by Jack Roush Racing drivers. Chevrolet won there in 2001, 2005, and 2006 while Dodge in 2002.

Qualifying Update
There have been seven different Bud Pole winners in the six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Las Vegas: Dale Jarrett (1998 and 2001), Bobby Labonte (1999 and 2003), Ricky Rudd (2000), Todd Bodine (2002), Kasey Kahne (2004), Ryan Newman (2005), and Greg Biffle (2006).

Qualifying Note
Robert Yates Racing has won three of the eight Bud Poles at Las Vegas all in the first four races there: Dale Jarrett (1998 and 2001) and Ricky Rudd (2000). Yates drivers posted six top-10 starts in the first four races there but in the past four they have had only one top-10 start: Elliott Sadler (second–2005)

Last Victory at This Track
in a Chevrolet .................. Jimmie Johnson ............ 2006 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400
in a Dodge ........................Sterling Marlin ............. 2002 UAW- Daimler Chrysler 400
in a Ford ............................ Matt Kenseth .............. 2004 UAW- Daimler Chrysler 400

Car Owner Victories at This Track
Car Owners Total Wins
Jack Roush 5
Rick Hendrick 3
Chip Ganassi 1
Total 9

Track Tidbits
• The field at Las Vegas will consist of the 43 cars. The 43rd starting position is available for a past NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion who did not otherwise qualify, if required. If not used by a past champion it will be assigned the next eligible car owner.

• One session with two qualifying laps will be run.

• There have been nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

• Seven different drivers have posted Bud Poles at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

• Greg Biffle is the defending Bud Pole winner for the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400.

• Dale Jarrett (1998 and 2001) and Bobby Labonte (1999 and 2003) are the only repeat Bud Pole winners at Las Vegas.

• Six different drivers have won NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

• Jimmie Johnson has won the last two Vegas races.

• Jeff Burton (1999 and 2000), Matt Kenseth (2003 and 2004), and Johnson are the only repeat race winners at Las Vegas.

• Only three of the nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Las Vegas has been won from a top-10 starting position: the inaugural race in 1998 and the last two races won by Johnson in 2005 and 2006.

• The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Las Vegas was 25th by Matt Kenseth in 2004.

• Five of the nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races have been won from a starting position outside the top 15.

Las Vegas Standouts
• Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth lead all drivers, each with two victories at Las Vegas.

• Mark Martin and Tony Stewart have each scored four top-five finishes in nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the most among all drivers.

• Mark Martin has scored seven top-10 finishes in his nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the most among all drivers.

• Kurt Busch leads all drivers with more than two starts at Las Vegas with a 4.8 starting average in five races there.

• Jimmie Johnson has an 7.0 average finish in his five races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the best of all active drivers.

• Tony Stewart has scored six of seven top-12 finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the longest current streak.

• Kurt Busch has posted six straight top-10 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the longest current streak.

• Matt Kenseth has led in four of his seven races there.

Schrader? Not so much in Vegas
Despite competing in all nine races at Las Vegas, Ken Schrader has yet to score a top-10 finish there. This year it won’t happen either because Jon Wood is piloting the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford making his season debut in Las Vegas.

Hail Mark!
Mark Martin won the inaugural race at Las Vegas in 1998. He also was the only driver to post a top-10 finish in each of the first four races there and completed every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series lap raced there through 2002 (1,216 laps). In 2003, Martin finished 43rd, completing just 114 of 267 laps. Martin completed all 267 laps in 2004 but fell short of the lead lap again in 2005, completing only 243 laps.

Manufacturer Milestone
Mark Martin’s 1998 victory in the inaugural race at Las Vegas was the first win for the new Taurus in its third event. The new Taurus captured top seven spots, nine of the top 10 and 13 of the first 14.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing in Nevada
Prior to the 1998 Las Vegas 400, there had been only one NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (Grand National) race held at Las Vegas. The 43rd race of 1955 was a 200-lap event on the one-mile dirt track at Las Vegas Park Speedway. It was run concurrent to an event held at Martinsville Speedway on the same day and was won by Norm Nelson, who started on the pole. Nelson averaged 44.449 mph in the victory. The race was shortened to 111 laps after a 12-car accident on lap 74 required an extended red-flag period and the race could not be

completed before darkness set in.

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

RacingOne Power Rankings
RacingOne Staff


Driver Ratings

The latest edition of the RacingOne NEXTEL Cup Series Power Rankings after Sunday's Auto Club 500, which features NASCAR's comprehensive statistical ratings system using a detailed formula to calculate each driver's performance.

Editor's Note: Top 10 rankings are generated by a formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race. Must have raced in 75 percent of scheduled point-paying races.

1. Matt Kenseth - Two previous wins on the old track, he's smart enough to stay out of trouble and consistent enough to have a post-race party with the Pit Boss.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 8.1
Las Vegas Wins: 2

2. Jeff Burton -If he wins in Vegas, will NEXTEL make him shrink the Cingular logo?

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 10.6
Las Vegas Wins: 2

3. Kevin Harvick - A great finish to 2006, and an incredible start to 2007 won't help him, let's see if he can play the Shell game and uncover a win.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 13.8
Las Vegas Wins: 0

4. Tony Stewart - Stewart's been strong so far in the season, but he will face his toughest obstacle at Las Vegas next week; staying away from the $4.99 Buffets.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 11.8
Las Vegas Wins: 0

5. Mark Martin - Good thing Joe Nemechek still had John Hunter's (son) U.S. Army uniform from 2006. It seems to be working good for Mark Martin so far. Watch out for the Toy Soldier.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 11.9
Las Vegas Wins: 1

6. Kyle Busch - Poker Face or Butter Face? Which one will show up on Sunday?

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 15.3
Las Vegas Wins: 0

7. Kurt Busch - Make sure to stop by Circus Circus to see the second biggest set of ears in Las Vegas next weekend.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 16.2
Las Vegas Wins: 0

8. Clint Bowyer - Jack Daniels and Las Vegas, no two things will wreck a marriage (or a car) any faster.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 15.0
Las Vegas Wins: 0

9. Jeff Gordon - The only thing with more colors than the Vegas Strip is Jeff Gordon's car.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 14.1
Las Vegas Wins: 1

10. Jimmie Johnson - Johnson's on a winning streak in Vegas, but if he lets it ride one too many times, he'll come up all craps.

Las Vegas Finishing Average: 11.8
Las Vegas Wins: 2

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Tony Stewart- Las Vegas Means Fast Living      
Friday, 02 March 2007

ATLANTA  – Las Vegas’ fast-paced lifestyle just got a lot faster. Located less than 20 miles north of the city, Las Vegas Motor Speedway has always been fast, but with a multi-million dollar renovation that included a major reconfiguration to its 1.5-mile oval, the track makes the city it dwells in appear slow.

The main ingredient of change is a switch from the 12 degrees of banking previously employed in the track’s corners to a much more robust 20 degrees. And with fresh asphalt augmenting the new banking, speeds in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series have jumped from the low 170 mph range to the high 180s, allowing drivers to cover a mile-and-a-half in under 29 seconds. Ricky Bobby’s mantra of “I wanna go fast!” is now best realized at Las Vegas.

Thankfully, Ricky Bobby is a fictional character from the movie Talladega Nights. The guys who not only “wanna go fast” but can handle the ramifications of driving among 42 other drivers at speeds nearly three times the posted speed limit of nearby Interstate 15 will descend upon Las Vegas on March 9 when practice and qualifying gets underway for the March 11 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

For Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, his ninth career Nextel Cup start at Las Vegas is sure to be an interesting one. The two-time Nextel Cup champion is a 6-to-1 favorite over defending Las Vegas race winner Jimmie Johnson, with oddsmakers giving Stewart the nod thanks to his back-to-back wins late last season at Atlanta and Texas. According to prognosticators, the new Las Vegas layout is akin to Atlanta and Texas.

According to Stewart, the new Las Vegas is akin to nothing. But don’t tell that to his car. The No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet being brought to Las Vegas is the same No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet that won last year at Atlanta and Texas, as well as the fuel mileage shootout at Kansas. In fact, in seven career starts it’s never finished lower than 15th, with two other top-10s to go along with its three victories and 457 laps led.

Stewart, crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the rest of the orange and black attack come to Las Vegas ready for a high-stakes game of high-speed action on the new high-banked oval that is Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
There have been major changes made to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. What did you like about the track before and what are you anticipating this weekend?

“We liked it before because you could actually move around on the race track. You weren’t stuck to one groove. It’s so fast that Goodyear had to bring a really hard tire. You don’t have the mechanical grip that you’d like to have, and now when you get behind someone, you kind of get stuck. You could be two or three tenths faster than somebody and not be able to pass them, because once you get close to them your car gets tight, and then you end up running exactly the same speed as they’re running. It’s one of those things where it would have been better off if they’d have just left it alone. I guess to a certain degree you’ve got to at least give them credit for trying to make it better, but I’m not sure they did.

“The old track was really nice. It was relatively smooth with very few bumps in it and plenty of room to run. Now we have a track that’s bumpier than we had before and narrower than what we had before.”

While you’re giving the race track mixed reviews, what do you like about the actual city of Las Vegas?

“I love going to Vegas. You’ve got the stock car track during the day. You’ve got the dirt track at night. If you want to stay up real late, you’ve got everything that Vegas has to offer. If you can’t have fun in Vegas, then you’re pretty hard to entertain.”

You’ve raced at tracks and been successful at tracks that you weren’t too fond of in your USAC and IRL IndyCar Series days. How did you go about preparing for those tracks?

“Easy. No matter where you go you want to win the race. No matter how much you dislike a place, the goal when you get there is to win. That’s what our goal is when we go to Las Vegas.”

Since Las Vegas is essentially a new race track, how will you approach the weekend?

“I can promise you one thing, I’ll make more laps in my first run of the day in The Home Depot Chevrolet than I would if I were in a Sprint car or a Midget practicing at a new race track. Normally when you go to a Sprint car or Midget track, you only get four or five laps of practice on the dirt and that’s it. At Las Vegas, I’ll use all of the practice time they’ll give us. It’s just a matter of going out and using the track time as if you were testing. You go out and sneak up on it, steadily improving yourself with each lap.”

What’s a lap like around the new layout?

“It’s almost wide open. When you enter the corner you get out of the gas and as soon as it cuts, you get right back in the gas wide open.”

Does going to a new venue prove to be an advantage for the rookie drivers, as for once they have the same amount of seat time at that particular race track than anyone else on the circuit?

“It does. That’s what I liked when we went to Homestead (Fla.) in ’99. I felt like nobody had an advantage over me there. Nobody knows the secrets at a new race track unless they’ve tested, and even then they may not know the secrets. And for everybody that’s going to Las Vegas, we all pretty much have the same amount of track time on the new layout. It’s a whole new ballgame and it’s totally up for grabs. It’s really anybody’s race.”

A lot of importance was placed on the California race, and it seems an equal amount of importance is placed on the upcoming race at Las Vegas. Why?

“These early races teach you very quickly where your program is compared to the competition. If your cars are good, you’ll run well at California, Vegas, Atlanta, Texas and so on. Everybody wants to know where they stack up and shake up right now. If you can get off to a good start, it shows that your program is really where it needs to be. This is a huge week.”

Since the season is still very new, are you less worried about where you finish and more concerned with how you actually run?

“It’s not so much that you worry about points as you worry about performance. We ran well at California, but we didn’t finish as well as we would’ve liked. We seemed to stack up well against the Hendrick, Childress and Roush teams, but I’m anxious to do it again at Las Vegas. We want to know – are we where we need to be? Are we competitive right off the bat? We feel like we’re starting this year off well. Las Vegas will be another test, but if The Home Depot Chevrolet drives anywhere like it did at California, I’m going to be real excited about the year.”

Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Aric Almirola will attempt to make his first career Nextel Cup start at Las Vegas. What are your thoughts on him and what are his chances at Las Vegas?

“I’m really impressed with him. His attitude is good. His approach to what he’s doing is good. I think he’s doing things the right way. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and it seems like every week he just keeps getting better and better and better. The fun part for us is that he’s kind of sneaking up on everybody. I don’t think everybody quite realizes how good he really is yet. To see his Busch races last year at Dover and Indy and to see how well he did is proof of that. I think Las Vegas will be a track he’ll like. He’s run big tracks before with the Truck Series and the Busch Series, so he’s got some experience, and with the Cup car I think he’ll have a lot of fun.”

TONY STEWART’S LAS VEGAS PERFORMANCE PROFILE
Year Event Start Finish Status/Laps Laps Led Earnings
2006 ×UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 2 21 Running/270 54 $142,036
2005 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 23 10 Running/267 0 $147,891
2004 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 19 3 Running/267 45 $219,603
2003 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 8 5 Running/267 0 $162,753
2002 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 15 5 Running/267 76 $153,953
2001 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 5 12 Running/267 4 $86,875
2000 *CarsDirect.com 400 16 2 Running/148 0 $221,250
1999 Las Vegas 400 20 36 Running/184 0 $46,200

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Budweiser Race Preview: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Quotes from DALE EARNHARDT JR. / DRIVER, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET

About starting the season with two Did-Not-Finish (DNF) results:  “We’re not happy about it, but we’re keeping our heads up. We’ve had some rough starts before and came back strong. We were 38th in the points after two races in 2003, and we came back to finish third. It seems like we always get better as the year goes on. Don’t forget, we had back-to-back last-place finishes in the middle of the summer last year and dropped out of the top-10 in points, but we fought back into the Chase when we needed to. As a team, you can’t let it be a distraction – we have to go out and run every lap as hard as possible and not worry about it. This team has always performed well when the pressure is on, and I expect nothing less this week.

“We found out what caused the engine failure at California, and our guys have been busting their (butts) to make sure we don’t have that problem again. The most positive thing we took from California is that we had a car that was really fast. We had a flat tire, but then we came back out and passed Matt Kenseth even with a loose wheel that caused a bad vibration. That shows we have a really good set-up and we’re taking that same chassis to Las Vegas.”

Dale Jr. and the No. 8 Bud Team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Previous Starts: 7

Best Start: 3rd   (March, 2000)

Best Finish: 2nd   (March, 2003)

This Race, Last Year: ST: 42nd / FIN: 27th

Chassis: #039 

Vegas Insiders Say…:  Micah Roberts, who provides the race odds for Vegas casinos and other outlets, sent an interesting fact leading into this weekend’s race. In Dale Jr’s 256 career Cup starts, he has recorded back-to-back DNFs four times. Immediately following the three previous scenarios, the Bud team scored two victories and a sixth place finish.

Previous Back-to-Back DNFs and the results at the following race:

1.) Darlington / Bristol March 2000                Next Race: Texas / First Career Victory

2.) Martinsville / Atlanta Oct. 2004                 Next Race: Phoenix / Career Win #15

3.) Loudon / Pocono July 2006                      Next Race: Indianapolis / sixth place

4.) Daytona / California Feb. 2007                 Next Race: Las Vegas / ?!?

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Las Vegas NASCAR
March 5, 2007
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com


The greatest continuous running show in Las Vegas visits town once again this weekend. Vegas has had some great performances over the years that have forever helped shape the city’s great legacy. The “Rat Pack” playing at the Sands, The Beatles playing the Convention Center, and Elvis starring at the International are all legends in the great history of Vegas. The annual NASCAR weekend would seem blasphemous to some to be put in the same category as great entertainers in Vegas history, but those in who count the cash for businesses across the Valley know just how important the race is to the city.
   
In 2006 the NASCAR weekend generated more than $197 million in both gaming and non-gaming revenue. There was over 94,000 people that to town for that weekend and it contributed to the most visited month in Las Vegas’ 101-year history. The economic impact rose over 18 percent from the previous Vegas NASCAR in 2005.

Las Vegas businesses such as the Casinos and Hotels, it may be their cheapest marketing ploy all year. They don’t have to woo anyone in. They don’t have to advertise. They don’t have to play the Hotel rate war game. They don’t have to have big jackpot tournaments…….All they have to do is open the doors and staff accordingly, especially the count team, because there is going to be lots to count.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway does most of the marketing themselves, with a little help from the weekly Network broadcast that shows some of the most entertaining, compelling, dramatic, most watched events of the year, the weekly NASCAR race. With the growing popularity of NASCAR coinciding with the continuous growth of the city’s popularity, the two together have created one monster of an event.

As if everything wasn’t good enough, the Speedway has completely re-done their entire facility. The concept was created by Speedway Motor Sports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith and followed through by Speedway General Manger VP Chris Powell. The goal was to make the races more exciting and competitive while also bringing the fans closer to the action from the stands. Mission accomplished on all accounts. The fans will now be able to see the pit stops from a much closer vantage point. They will also be able to purchase special garage passes that will allow fans to view inside the teams garages from a cat walk above. Its an absolute masterpiece that will do for race tracks what Disney World did for amusement parks; it is the standard that all will be compared from this day on.

Now, NASCAR, How about that second race date?

CHANGES ON THE TRACK FORCE CHANGES ON THE CARS

The changes on the actual track itself make it much faster than the previous nine Cup races run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The banking has changed in the turns from 12 degrees to 20 degrees which allows for much higher speeds. A key component in the higher speeds was going from a relative flat three degrees on the front stretch to nine degrees. The speeds from the pre-season testing in late January were as high as 188 mph on the new configuration. The track record for qualifying is 174 mph, a record that will be broke by just about every driver attempting to qualify this year.

Due to the changes on the track and a bit of the unknown, NASCAR has decided to use a 13-gallon fuel cell instead of the traditional 22 gallon cell. They have also decided to slow the cars up just a little bit by using a harder compound on the left side tires.

NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said that wear and heat that was observed in open test sessions for Cup and Busch Series cars and tire performance led to the change.

"After discussing it with Goodyear, we feel like we have the potential for some of the same issues that we had at the Charlotte race last year," Pemberton said of the many of crashes at Charlotte following another repaving job.

So we've decided for those reasons to go with the 13-gallon fuel cell. And the tire will be different, as they've decided to change the left-side compound and maybe some construction."

WHAT THE CHANGES MEAN TO BETTING LINE

The changes on the track make a huge difference from past years. In a usual Vegas race, the first thing you looked for was what Roush Racing car was going to be the favorite to win. A Roush car had won five of the first seven Vegas Cup races with three different drivers. Jack Roush owns every win record in the Cup, Busch, and Truck series races at Vegas. Roush will still have a few drivers that should be considered good possibilities at winning, but the banking has taken Las Vegas into another realm that a few teams are better at than Roush.

The steeper banking all the way around the track makes Las Vegas similar in ways to Miami, but the configuration makes it more similar to it’s sister tracks of Atlanta, Charlotte, and Texas. Despite the similarities on paper, most of the drivers say it isn’t like any track. However, the Crew Chiefs of most teams are bringing their cars that had success, if any, at Vegas’ three sister tracks last season.

WHO ARE THE FAVORITES

Tony Stewart (6/1) is the easy favorite because of his recent success on tracks that figure to be similar to the new Vegas configuration. The major factor giving him the odds on edge is that he is bringing the exact same chassis (No. 120) that won three times in the final eight races last season. Stewart won in back-to-back races in Atlanta and Texas during that stretch. This charmed chassis has a lifetime record of three wins in seven starts with a finish no worse than 15th. The Home Depot used this same car two weeks ago in California and finished eighth along with leading 28 laps. Because past history at Vegas means nothing we won’t go into much other than his best Vegas Cup finish is second. A win at Las Vegas would be a nice addition to the trophy case for Stewart.

Jimmie Johnson (7/1) has won the last two Las Vegas races for Hendrick Motorsports, but we can throw out those figures. What can’t be ignored is Johnson’s amazing run during the last two seasons on the three sister tracks of Vegas. His 12-race average finish in Atlanta and Charlotte is 4.4, a number that is obscene. The closest driver to Johnson over that span is Mark Martin with a 13.7 average finish. In those 12 races for Johnson, he has two wins, five second-place finishes, a third, a fifth and sixth with the worst finish being 16th in the Atlanta fall race of 2005. It’s a safe assumption that changes on the track won’t affect Johnson much.

Kasey Kahne (7/1) has two top-five finishes in three Vegas starts, but more importantly, Kahne took four of the six wins on the three sister tracks of Vegas. Kahne swept Charlotte and won the spring races in Atlanta and Texas. Kahne is likely to come with the chassis (No. 131) that raced two weeks ago in California. Kahne had engine problems in that race and finished 38th, but we know the chassis good because of last season. It won in the fall Charlotte race and finished fourth at Miami. If it were chassis No. 128, the car that Kahne won five of six races while driving in 2006, Kahne might be considered the favorite.

Dale Earnhardt Jr (8/1) and the Bud team went through a tumultuous time in 2005 where the DEI organization did some crazy things that basically lost them an entire season. After six wins in 2004, the team decided to change shops, cars, and crew chiefs with his then teammate, Michael Waltrip. The thing that suffered the most was their performance on the intermediate tracks. Junior had always been competeitive at Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas. For 2006, the teams changed back, they dumped Michael Waltrip, and started anew, but it was a slow climb back to the top or at least competing for the top.

They still only had one win last year but they showed they could do well on tracks like Atlanta where they ran third in both the races there. Crew Chief Tony Eury found a great set up and balance on a nice little chassis (No. 039) that has taken them back to level they once were. The chassis hasn’t won yet, but it had eight straight top-10 finishes in 2006 that included six top five’s. Junior took his favorite car to California two weeks ago with high expectations, but had engine problems. Engine problems have been a theme with Junior over the last two months. During the Vegas test session, Junior blew two engines in one day. Then at California, both he and teammate Martin Truex Jr had engine problems. For Junior, it was his second straight DNF. Can they fix it?

If anyone can, it’s the duo of Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Eury. There have been three other times where the team has had two straight DNF’s and in each case, they came back stronger than ever in that next race. In 2000, Junior won at Texas after two straight DNF’s. He did the same thing in 2004 at Phoenix, and then last year he finished sixth at Indy. This week at Vegas is the perfect setting for a team down on luck. When the chips are down, Junior always seems to come up with the biggest hand.

Matt Kenseth (8/1) has two Cup wins in Las Vegas and probably should have won last year’s race as well. He had a large lead with only a few laps to go, but phantom debris allowed Johnson to restart in a green-white-checker situation. Kenseth is in the same situation he was in last season where he comes in fresh from a weekend off after a California Cup win. On tracks like Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas, Kenseth has two wins combined, but its been a few years since then. His average finish on those tracks in the last two seasons is 14.2 with a best of second in last year’s spring Texas race. One thing you know you’re going to get from Kenseth is consistency. It’s very rare that he ever is the root of the team not doing well.

Kevin Harvick (10/1) was on his way to a win two weeks ago in California with what looked like the best car on the track when his tire went flat. It’s hard to imagine, but this years Daytona 500 winner was in a much different situation coming into the Vegas race last season. He was almost racing for his job, and then somehow, someway, everything turned for Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress Racing. They got just about every facet of their organization on the right track. They were competitive on road courses, short tracks, intermediate tracks, and plate races. In all, Childress cars won 18 races last season between the Busch and Cup Series. The way it looks dating all the way back to week 18 of last season, Harvick is going to be a contender to win every week on any track.

WHERE IS THE EDGE AT THE BETTING WINDOW

Because of all the changes, both to the track and the cars, there are going to several things we can expect. With the smaller fuel cells, there are going to be about nearly twice as many pit stops. Because of all the pit stops there is going to be twice as many lap leaders and lead changes as usual. A few books around Las Vegas have offered wagers over the years during Las Vegas NASCAR weekend asking “how many” on just about everything you can find in the final NASCAR box score. The lap leader figure in the past has averaged around 12.

Another aspect we should expect much more of this season is cautions. Because of the speeds, new surface, and not many drivers feeling very comfortable on the track yet, we can expect to see mistakes on their behalf which will result in plenty of cautions. Over the years, the average caution figure has been six to seven. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to assume there will be 10 or more cautions in this race with several laps run under caution.

Driver match-ups pit one driver against another and it’s up to the bettor to figure out who will have the best finish and put some money down on that opinion. Most books will offer match-up wagers this week for the Cup race. Because of the changes on the track, the best strategy in match-ups may be to take the most patient driver against someone, not so patient, or known for being reserved. We can identify the patient drivers and those that aren’t simply by their personalities, because for both it translates in their driving. For the top patient drivers, it’s a short list that begins with Johnson and Kenseth, then goes to the Mark Martin’s, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin’s.

Drivers that have been labeled for several things other than being patient are Kyle and Kurt Busch, Harvick, Stewart, Greg Biffle, and Clint Bowyer. Two years ago at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte had a newly paved surface that no one could get comfortable with. There ended up being 22 cautions with 37 lead changes among 21 drivers. It was nearly impossible for a driver to drive as accustomed to at Charlotte. For a select few, they hung back in hopes of staying out of harms way. Jimmie Johnson had won three of four Charlotte races up to that point, but was in the back for most of the race. “What’s wrong with Jimmie?” Well, nothing was wrong with Jimmie. He led early on for a couple of laps, hung back, and then led the last lap for another Charlotte win. He played it smart and let everything unfold around him, and then lat in the race went for it. Who will be that driver this week?

WHO’S GOING TO WIN

The last time I chose Dale Earnhardt Jr to win in Las Vegas it was 2001, two weeks after his father had passed away. I saw some weird things happen that year beginning with Michael Waltrip, driving a DEI car, winning his first race ever. The week after Daytona, another DEI car driven by Steve Park won at Rockingham. I thought for sure the magic would carry over for the following week at Vegas, without really thinking about how out of it Junior really was. Jeff Gordon ended up winning that race, and then the following week the weird stuff started happening again with the rookie, Kevin Harvick, winning in Atlanta by a nose in Dale Sr.’s GM Goodwrench Chevy.

It all came to fruition a few months later in one of the most memorable, emotional moments I’ve ever experienced in sports when Junior took the checkers for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, the first race back there since the passing of Dale Sr.

What this has to do with anything involving this weeks Vegas race on the new track, I really don’t know. What I do know is that keeps popping up in my mind as the driver to win, much as it did back in 2001. Hopefully the results will be different in 2007.

The 2007 selection of Junior in Vegas isn’t just a blind reach. The Bud team has supporting data that shows they should be very competitive this week. Odds have been placed on Junior as high as 20 to 1 in Las Vegas, likely because of his poor start and engines failures, both of which are good points. However, this is Vegas where everyone knows that betting the underdogs is how you stay ahead.

TOP 5 Vegas Finish Prediction:

1) #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr (20/1)
2)#29 Kevin Harvick (15/1)
3)#20 Tony Stewart (10/1)
4) #5 Kyle Busch (18/1) 5)
5)#31 Jeff Burton (18/1)

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Las Vegas NASCAR
March 5, 2007
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Dale Earnhardt Jr talking about his favorite car, chassis No. 039, that he’ll be using this week: “We had six top-five finishes in it last year, and seemed like it was a top-10 car every time we rolled it on the track. It’s kind of like going out wearing your favorite jeans and t-shirt… it’s hard to explain, but you just feel better and more relaxed and it makes the girls look prettier and the cold Bud taste better. With this chassis, the whole team knows we’re going to be fast as soon as we roll off the trailer, so everyone seems more confident and focused. It makes that long trip out there seem a lot more worthwhile.”

“We’re not happy about it, but we’re keeping our heads up. We’ve had some rough starts before and came back strong. We were 38th in the points after two races in 2003, and we came back to finish third. It seems like we always get better as the year goes on. Don’t forget, we had back-to-back last-place finishes in the middle of the summer last year and dropped out of the top-10 in points, but we fought back into the Chase when we needed to. As a team, you can’t let it be a distraction – we have to go out and run every lap as hard as possible and not worry about it. This team has always performed well when the pressure is on, and I expect nothing less this week.

“We found out what caused the engine failure at California, and our guys have been busting their (butts) to make sure we don’t have that problem again. The most positive thing we took from California is that we had a car that was really fast. We had a flat tire, but then we came back out and passed Matt Kenseth even with a loose wheel that caused a bad vibration. That shows we have a really good set-up and we’re taking that same chassis to Las Vegas."

ODDS ON MARTIN RUNNING ALL YEAR

Regan Smith is the driver that is supposed to split time with point leader Mark Martin in the No. 01 Army Chevrolet beginning with the Bristol race in three weeks. Smith doesn’t think Martin is ready to relinquish the reins just yet if leading, and is ready to bet on it.

"When I go to Las Vegas I might put a couple of dollars on it," Smith said before Busch Series practice in Mexico. “I'm sure it's going to be on the board soon. It's a pretty big story. "I don't know what the odds are. All I can say is if I was in his shoes and leading the points after Atlanta it would be tough for me as a driver to get out of the car."

Smith is correct, this is a big story and one many books would love to offer in Las Vegas, except that the books are not allowed by the Gaming Control Board to offer such a prop. The problem with it is that the outcome is determined solely by one person. In order for a book to offer a wager, the outcome has to be played on the field. Even things such as Super Bowl MVP, the Heisman Trophy, or Cy Young award winners can’t be posted because it is voted on.

Just for fun and informational purposes like the books do for Survivor and American Idol, we’ll make Martin a minus -600 favorite to stay with a limited Cup schedule this season regardless with where is at in points. If that line were posted, Mr. Smith could get 4/1 on Martin running a full schedule and going for the Cup title.

BUSCH SERIES & NEXTEL CUP SERIES CORRELATION

Forget actually handicapping a race. All you have to do is wait and see who wins the Busch race on Saturday and then come strong with the same driver for Sunday’s race. So far this season the strategy is 2 wins in 2 opportunities. Kevin Harvick did it in Daytona and then two weeks ago Matt Kenseth accomplished the same feat in California. The Double has been done only once in Las Vegas. Jeff Burton took checkers in both races in 2000, in what was probably the wettest, coldest March weekend in Vegas history.

ANY POSSIBLE LONG SHOTS WORTH TAKING A CHANCE ON

During the Las Vegas Pre-Season testing, the Evernham crew of Elliott Sadler (25/1), Scott Riggs (50/1), and Kasey Kahne (7/1) were stealth fast. They looked like they were ready to go and take on the entire intermediate race track world, but then California came two weeks ago where they drove the same cars, and speeds and handling were not so much up to par. Not sure what to expect this week. Practice should tell the story. Mark martin is sitting nice at 30 to 1. He’ll be a sentimental choice of many racing fans visiting so if you like him, bet him early, because the odds will only go down.

Other drivers who may not get much attention paid to, but could have very good days are Martin Truex Jr. (40/1) and Denny Hamlin (22/1). Both are the number two guys of the drivers we think will be the best this weekend. Both Truex and Hamlin showed up as serious contenders to win the season finale in Miami last season. They are definitely worth taking a shot with this week, especially in match-ups.

ODDS AND ENDS IN THE PITS AFTER TWO CUP RACES

1) Mark Martin and Jeff Burton are the only drivers to have top-five finishes in each of the first two races season.
2) Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon are the only drivers to have top-10 finishes in each of the first two races this season.
3) Matt Kenseth leads all drivers with 15 bonus points.
4) Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart have led laps in both races this year.

LAS VEGAS FACTS

1) There have been nine NASCAR Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since the track opened in 1997.
2) Jimmie Johnson is the TWO-TIME defending VEGAS champion.
3) Ten drivers have competed in all nine Las Vegas races.
4) Only Jeff Burton and Joe Nemechek have finished all nine Las Vegas races.
5) There are three different two-time winners at Las Vegas, all of them back-to-back: Jeff Burton, 1999-2000; Matt Kenseth, 2003-2004; Jimmie Johnson, 2005-2006.
6) There have been six different winners in the nine races at Las Vegas.
7) Only three of the nine Las Vegas races have been won from a starting position inside the Top 10.
8) No Las Vegas race has ever been won from the pole position (the highest starting position of a race winner was third – Jimmie Johnson in 2006.)
9) The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Las Vegas was 25th by Matt Kenseth in 2004.
10) Dale Jarrett (1998 and 2001) and Bobby Labonte (1999 and 2003) are the only repeat Bud Pole winners at Las Vegas.
11) The 2000 Las Vegas race was the only one shortened by rain – 148 laps/222 miles were run.
12) There has been one extended race at Las Vegas: 2006 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 (270 laps).
13) Jack Roush has posted five wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the most of any car owner. Those five wins were scored by Mark Martin (one), Jeff Burton (two) and Matt Kenseth (two).
14) Hendrick Motorsports has posted three victories here: Jeff Gordon (one), Jimmie Johnson (two).
15) Thirty-seven drivers have posted at least one top-10 finish at Las Vegas.
16) Four of the top 10 drivers in the current championship point standings have competed in all nine races at Las Vegas. Four of the other six have completed there one time or less.
17) All nine races at Las Vegas have had at least one car owner post multiple top-10 finishes, most notably when Roush scored five top 10s in the inaugural race in 1998.

VEGAS RECORDS

Last year’s pole winner: Greg Biffle (172.403 mph, 31.322 seconds)
Last year’s race winner: Jimmie Johnson (133.358 mph, 3 hours, 2 minutes, 13 seconds, 3-12-07)
Track qualifying record: Kasey Kahne (174.904 mph, 30.874 seconds, 3-5-04)
Track race record: Mark Martin (146.554 mph, 2 hours, 43 minutes, 58 seconds, 3-1-98)

VEGAS CHIPS

Purse: $6,381,100
NASCAR NEXTEL Leader Bonus: $30,000

STARTING POSITION WASN’T IMPORTANT

Races won from the pole: 0 of 9 events
Races won from inside the top 10: 3 of 9 (33%)
Races won from outside the top 10: 6 of 9 (67%)

MARGIN OF VICTORY – LAST FIVE RACES

2006 – 0.045 seconds
2005 – 1.661
2004 – 3.426
2003 – 9.104
2002 – 1.163

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

New Look for Chrysler 400    
by: Brian Gabrielle

NASCAR fans will find a completely remodeled Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 is contested this weekend.

"It's a whole different situation (than in past races)," said Wynn Las Vegas bet shop supervisor and auto racing specialist Chris Chavez.

The Las Vegas track was completely rebuilt in the offseason, adding increased 20-degree banking to a new surface and moving pit road 275 feet closer to the grandstands.

"It (raised banking) will make the race much more interesting and the cars will go a lot faster," Chavez said.

Also new is a diamond-shaped, four-building structure called the Neon Garage that will serve multiple purposes, including hosting entertainment acts throughout Race Weekend and permitting attendees who purchase passes to look directly into garage bays as crewmen tune their vehicles for competition.

In addition to Sunday's 1:40 p.m. (PDT) Nextel Cup event, the Busch Series Sam's Town 300 is scheduled for noon (PST) Saturday.

Qualifiers for both are scheduled on Friday.

"I've had the (Nextel Cup race) odds up since the Super Bowl and I'll put up odds on the Sam's Town race later in the week," Chavez said.

"I have 49 drivers listed (though only 43 will start).

"Some big names will be here on Sunday.

"(Indy Racing League driver) Sam Hornish will be giving Las Vegas his first try in seven years.

"I like to wait on the Sam's Town race until I know who's entered.

"So many of the Nextel Cup drivers also go in the 300 and I hold back on that because I got burned one year.

"Jeff Gordon decided at the last minute to race his Busch car, almost won and I didn't have him listed."

Wynn Las Vegas has defending champion Jimmie Johnson as a 5/1 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 favorite, followed by Tony Stewart and Auto Club 500 winner Matt Kenseth at 6/1, Gordon at 7/1, Kasey Kahne at 8/1 and Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick at 10/1.

"Action hasn't been heavy, but that will come later in the week," Chavez said.

"Early money has been on Kahne."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of the deceased racing legend who was killed on the final lap at Daytona several years ago, is 12/1.

"Junior normally doesn't do well at mid-sized tracks and racing without restrictor plates, though it could be different this year," Chavez said.

"Another interesting thing is Mark Martin is coming out of the box at 10/1 and he's supposed to be semi-retired."

Martin currently leads the Nextel Cup points competition with a pair of Top 10 finishes in the two events that already have been run; Harvick is the leading money winner with $1.7 million-plus.

Chavez' personal choice is Tony Stewart, who is 0-8 in his Sin City attempts, but finished second in 2000.

Las Vegas is one of just four tracks where Stewart never has won.

"That's a toughie (predicting a winner), but I think Tony's going to come back from disappointments here," Chavez said.

Drivers will make 267 laps around the 1 1/2-mile track.

Another change they'll encounter this weekend is the use of 13 rather than 17-gallon fuel cells.

Last year, the race drew more than 130,000 fans and generated $197 million, making it the largest sporting event in Nevada during 2006.

"Daytona used to be our biggest annual (auto racing) write, but Las Vegas passed it some years ago," Chavez said.

www.spreadexperts.com

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mvbski wrote:



Kasey Kahne (7/1) has two top-five finishes in three Vegas starts, but more importantly, Kahne took four of the six wins on the three sister tracks of Vegas. Kahne swept Charlotte and won the spring races in Atlanta and Texas. Kahne is likely to come with the chassis (No. 131) that raced two weeks ago in California. Kahne had engine problems in that race and finished 38th, but we know the chassis good because of last season. It won in the fall Charlotte race and finished fourth at Miami. If it were chassis No. 128, the car that Kahne won five of six races while driving in 2006, Kahne might be considered the favorite.

He won't be bringing either car and will use chassis #144 which ran at Indy last year and qualified 4th and ran well till he wrecked.

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At least something good is happening for Chrysler.

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Nextel Cup race a hot ticket
By DAVE TULEY

Prior to the NBA All-Star Game here last month, there was talk that maybe the game should be played here every year.

Since then, NBA commissioner David Stern said the Thomas & Mack Center was inadequate and the exhibition wouldn't return here until the city had a new arena. Then there was the little matter of more than 400 arrests on the weekend and a shooting incident at a gentlemen's club. Even though the weekend was considered an overall success, the bitter aftertaste has even Mayor Oscar Goodman, the city's biggest booster, dropping any ideas about having it return anytime soon.

But one major sporting event has come here and returned here every year for the past 10 years. It's the Nextel Cup circuit's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, or, for those who eschew corporate names, the Las Vegas 400, and tickets for Sunday's 1 p.m. Pacific race are sold out. The race will be shown live on Fox.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway has undergone many changes since last year's running, with the track's banking raised from 12 to 20 degrees and pit road moved 275 feet closer to the grandstands. In addition, there is a catwalk for those with upgraded tickets to get closer to watch the pit crews in action, and a Neon Garage exhibit.

Roush Racing has won five of the last seven Nextel Cup races in Las Vegas and its drivers hold all the local records in the Cup, Busch, and Truck series, but that was on the old track configuration. With the new setup more closely resembling Atlanta and Texas, Station Casinos' auto racing oddsmaker Micah Roberts made Tony Stewart the 6-1 favorite. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne are the co-second choices at 7-1; with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth at 8-1; Kevin Harvick and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch at 10-1; Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and Carl Edwards at 12-1; and Greg Biffle at 13-1.

Leroy's, with more than 60 outlets in the state, including at the Nascar-friendly Sahara on the north end of the Strip and the aptly-named Speedway Casino just off of I-15 at the Cheyenne exit on the way to the actual speedway, has a unique twist on auto race wagering that horse players will find interesting. In addition to taking the regular bets to win the race, Leroy's also offers place and show. For instance, if you're not quite sure Stewart will win the race, you could bet him to place at 2-1 or to show at even-money. Leroy's lists 29 individual drivers with the rest of the expected 43 starting drivers put in the field (that opened at 15-1 to win, 6-1 to place, 3-1 to show). The odds are not parimutuel, so they are fixed once you place your bet.

The Station Casinos has the most different ways to bet the race. There are nine head-to-head matchups available, as well as six four-driver groups in which you pick the one to have the best finish, plus proposition wagers such as what will be the winning manufacturer (Chevrolet -140 vs. Ford, Dodge, Toyota at +110), whether the winning car will be odd or even (odd is -125 with even at -105), whether the winning car is number 0-23 or 24-99 (0-23 is -120 with 24-99 at -110), over/under 7 1/2 Chevrolets to finish in the top 15 (over is -140 with the under at +110), and with the new track configuration intended to promote more exciting and closer racing, it's not surprising that the over/under on the winning margin of victory is set at 1.122 seconds with the under favored at -140.

There are tons of festivities leading up to the actual main event. Drivers are making appearances all week, with the best one Friday in the NASCAR Cafe at the Sahara from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. with Mark Martin.

For those who can't get into Sunday's race, there are still tickets available for Saturday's Sam's Town 300 in the Busch Series. Nextel Cup drivers have taken to moonlighting in the "minor-league" circuit and Station Casinos has Kahne as the 4-1 favorite, with Harvick and Burton at 5-1, Busch at 6-1, and his brother Kurt Busch and Edwards at 8-1. The Sam's Town 300 will be shown live at noon Pacific on Saturday on ABC.

www.drf.com

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Las Vegas
Jeff Wackerlin
Senior Editor

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to newly configured Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 267-lap event.

      Who's HOT at Las Vegas Speedway
    * Jimmie Johnson has won the last two NEXTEL Cup events.
    * Matt Kenseth has a 3.0 average finish in the last four races, which includes two wins, plus he has led the most laps of any driver with 367 in seven starts.
    * Jeff Burton has the best average finish (10.6) among all drivers that have entered every event.
    * Mark Martin leads all drivers with seven top 10s.
    * Kyle Busch has a 2.5 average finish in his last two starts.

      Keep an Eye on at Las Vegas Speedway
    * Tony Stewart will be driving the same car that posted back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Texas in 2006.
    * Greg Biffle has the second-best average running position (5.1) in the last two races.
    * Jeff Gordon has two straight top-five finishes.
    * Kurt Busch has the best average start among all drivers with more than three starts.
    * Evernham Motorsports (Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs) showed some strength in preseason testing at Vegas.
    * Casey Mears, who will make his first start with Hendrick Motorsports, has finished ninth or better in his last three starts.
    * Greg Biffle has two consecutive top-10 finishes.
    * Robert Yates Racing teammates David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd had the strongest Fords in preseason testing at Vegas.
    * Clint Bowyer will be back behind the wheel of the same car he scored his career-best Cup finish (third) with.

      *Ready to Rebound at Vegas
      Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. is coming off back-to-back DNFs, he's got an interesting fact about the three previous times this has happened to him in his 256 career NEXTEL Cup starts. In Dale Jr's 256 career Cup starts, he has recorded back-to-back DNFs four times. Immediately following the three previous scenarios, the Bud team scored two victories and a sixth-place finish. Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the same chassis (No. 39) that has finished in the top 10 in eight of its nine starts in 2006. Junior, who lost two motors in testing at LVMS, says the team found what caused the engine failure in the most recent race, at California. Junior's teammate Martin Truex Jr. or Evernham Motorsports' Elliott Sadler would be the other choices for this category.

      *Must be a driver with a 20.0 or worse finishing average at LVMS.

      Track Performers
      Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with eight wins on 1.5-mile speedways. His last of eight wins came at Chicagoland Speedway, which now could be the closet track to the re-configured LVMS in terms of speed. Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, who won the last two races at Vegas, is tied for second with seven wins. Mark Martin (7), Tony Stewart (6) and Jeff Burton (5) round out the top five in wins. Martin leads all drivers with 44 top-10 finishes followed by Gordon with 38. Ryan Newman is the current pole leader on 1.5-mile tracks with nine.

      Testing Report
      Evernham Motorsports led three tests, each with a different driver, during the Preseason Thunder sessions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Elliott Sadler set the pace with a blistering lap of 188.772 mph, which marked the fastest lap in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing. His teammate Scott Riggs was right behind in the p.m. session with a speed of 187.318 mph. Speeds increased even more on LVMS' new track configuration in the last of four sessions with eight cars dropping into the 28-second range. Those drivers that found their way around the 20 degrees of banking in the corners quickly in that session included David Gilliland, David Stremme, Johnny Sauter, Jeff Green, Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte. Michael Waltrip posted the best speed, at 186.162 mph, among the Toyota camp. Testing Speeds

      Rookie Report
      None of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates have made a NEXTEL Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Paul Menard is the only driver of the group with experience at the track in a Busch Series car, posting a 26.0 average finish in three starts on the only configuration. Rookie leader David Ragan made one start in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck in 2004, finishing 34th. David Reutimann, who made three Truck starts at LVMS, is the only rookie with a top-10 finish, with it coming on the new banking last season. Aric Almirola, who also raced in the 2006 Vegas truck race, will attempt to qualify for his first Cup race this weekend driving the No. 80 Joe Gibbs Chevrolet. A.J. Allmendinger, who crashed on both days of testing at Vegas, is still looking to make his first Cup start. Rookie Standings

      Qualifying Tidbits
      Unless Kasey Kahne can win his second pole at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, he will see his 2004 track record lap of 174.904 mph get eclipsed on the new track configuration. With the increase in speed in testing on the new 20 degrees of banking expect a majority, if not all, of the cars to break the record. Bobby Labonte is the only multi-pole winner at Las Vegas. His last pole in 2003 is the only one by a Chevrolet at the track. Greg Biffle is the defending pole winner after he gave Ford their leading fifth pole at LVMS. Jimmie Johnson won the last two Las Vegas races from a top-10 starting position, and Matt Kenseth's 2004 victory came from the furthest starting position - 25th. Starting Positions of Las Vegas Winners

      Banking On Success
      Mike Bliss hopes to carry over his success from last year's Truck Series race on the new track configuration in his attempt to qualify for his first Cup race in 2007. Bliss, who finished sixth and led four laps in the truck race, is one of four drivers (Armirola, Reutimann and Jeremy Mayfield) that have raced in a NASCAR event on the new banking.

      Las Vegas Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006 season)
    * Jimmie Johnson is the fastest driver early in a run during the first 25 percent of a green flag run since a pit stop. Johnson's relative speed percentage (average of how much faster or slower a driver raced versus the average speed of all drivers) of 1.8802 leads all active drivers. Kyle Busch (1.6223), Greg Biffle (1.5516), Matt Kenseth (1.4932) and Tony Stewart (1.3289) round out the top five.
    * Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle, respectively, hold average running positions of 4.6 and 5.1. They are closely followed by Kyle Busch (5.2), Tony Stewart (7.9) and Jeff Gordon (8.8).
    * Jimmie Johnson is the fastest driver late in a run since a pit stop. Johnson's relative speed percentage (average of how much faster or slower a driver raced versus the average speed of all drivers) of .9516 leads all active drivers. Kevin Harvick (.9275), Tony Stewart (.8446), Jeff Gordon (.8237) and Greg Biffle (.7961) round out the top five.
    * Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, respectively, have completed 97 and 67 quality passes (Passing a car running in the top 15 while under a green flag).
    * Jimmie Johnson has the best average Driver Rating at 131.4.

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More Driver Notes

1. Mark Martin (Points: 335): Inaugural Las Vegas race winner Martin is second to Jeff Burton for the best finishing average among all drivers that have competed in every race. Martin's 11.9 average finish is coupled by two finishes outside the top 10 due to mechanical problems in 2003 and 2005. His worst finish (43rd) came in 2003 as a result of engine failure. Martin, who has a series leading seven top-10 finishes at LVMS, will be making his first start in a Chevrolet at the track.

2. Jeff Burton (Points Behind Leader: -5): At 10.6, Burton has the best finishing average among all drivers that have entered every NEXTEL Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After placing 17th and seventh, respectively, Burton will make his third start at LVMS in an RCR Chevrolet. Burton, who has yet to lead a lap with RCR at the track, will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 155) that finished fourth at California last month.

3. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind Leader: -26): Gordon captured his fourth top five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in this event last season with a fifth-place finish. His best finish at the speedway was in 2001 when he went to Victory Lane. In 2003, Gordon led 53 laps before an accident relegated him to 37th, his worst finish and only DNF at Vegas.

4. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind Leader: -28): In 2005, Harvick had the fourth fastest time in qualifying, but his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet failed to pass post-qualifying inspection for not having a full tank of fuel during his run. He was forced to start 42nd after NASCAR said the fuel pump had been altered to make it appear like it was full. Harvick battled back from the rear of the field to post his best finish (fifth) at LVMS. Las Vegas is also the site of Harvick's first career top-10 in the NEXTEL Cup Series when he finished eighth in 2001. In 2004, Harvick had a strong run at Vegas leading 43 laps towards the end before running out of fuel. He ended-up finishing 21st, one lap down. Harvick, who has a 13.8 finishing average, will race chassis No. 139 in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Most recently, Scott Wimmer raced this car to a 12th-place finish last season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

6. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind Leader: -71): Clint Bowyer will look to score his first top 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway driving one of the best cars in the No. 07 stable. Bowyer, who has a pair of ninth-place finishes in the Busch Series at LVMS, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 170) that finished sixth at California last month. Last fall at California, Bowyer also scored his career-best Cup finish (third) with this car.

7. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind Leader: -76): Nemechek's best finish of ninth in nine starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway came in 2000 and 2003. His overall average finish is 21.7.

8. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind Leader: -84): Yeley started 12th and finished 17th in his first NEXTEL Cup start last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

9. Kyle Busch (Points Behind Leader: -96): Busch has finished second and third, respectively, in his last two NEXTEL Cup starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His first start at the track came in 2004 when he ran a partial schedule in the NEXTEL Cup Series. In that race he finished 41st after crashing on lap 11. This weekend Busch will race a new car (chassis No. 412) that was tested at LVMS in January.

10. David Stremme (Points Behind Leader: -99): Stremme started 40th and finished 33rd in his only NEXTEL Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. However, he does have a pair of third-place finishes in the Busch Series in 2004 and 2005.

11. David Gilliland (Points Behind Leader: -100): Although he's not a rookie, David Gilliland will make his first NEXTEL Cup start this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He will be driving the same car he tested at LVMS in preseason testing.

12. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind Leader: -103): Kenseth has averaged a 3.0 finish in his last four starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, that includes back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004. His overall 8.1 finishing average at LVMS is second among all drivers. Kenseth, who has led the most laps at Vegas with 367, will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis RK-317) that won at California last month.

13. Johnny Sauter (Points Behind Leader: -111): Sauter's only NEXTEL Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway came in 2004 when he drove the No. 30 Richard Childress Racing machine home to a 24th-place finish. His best Vegas Busch finish in five starts also came with RCR when he finished third in 2002.

14. Robby Gordon (Points Behind Leader: -117): Gordon has raced in seven NEXTEL Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with four different teams. His best finish came last season when he piloted his own No. 7 machine home to a 12th-place finish. The only time Gordon has led a lap(s) at Vegas came in his first start in 2000 when he led eight circuits behind the wheel of the No. 13 Ford.

15. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind Leader: -119): Jimmie Johnson has won the last two NEXTEL Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last year he only led the most important lap when he passed Matt Kenseth en route to the victory. The year prior, Johnson led 107 laps, a personal best at Las Vegas, on his way to his first win at the speedway. Johnson, who will make his 186th career start, has three top-10 finishes in five starts at Vegas. In 2004, Johnson posted his worst finish (16th) at LVMS after making contact with the No. 4 car on pit road.

16. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind Leader: -119): In 2004, Sadler scored his only top 10 in eight starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after he came home sixth. In six of his seven other starts, Sadler has finished 20th or worse with two outside the top 40. His career average finish at Vegas is 26.6. This weekend Sadler will make his first Vegas start with Evernham Motorsports driving the same car (chassis No. 143) that was the fastest in preseason testing.

17. Greg Biffle (Points Behind Leader: -124): Last season, Biffle boosted his finishing average at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to 18.0 with two consecutive top-10 finishes. In Biffle's first start at LVMS in 2004, he started ninth and finished 40th after engine problems plagued his No. 16 Ford. This weekend Biffle will pilot a brand new car (chassis RK-407) that was tested at Las Vegas in January. The team has reported that this car is faster than the one Biffle wrecked in testing.

18. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind Leader: -126): Hamlin started 16th and finished 10th in his only NEXTEL Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He will race the same car (chassis No. 140) that was tested at LVMS in January.

19. Kurt Busch (Points Behind Leader: -139): In 2006, Busch finished 16th in his first start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Penske Racing. In his five previous starts, Busch captured two top 10s with Roush Racing. Busch, who has the best starting average (5.0) among all drivers with more than three starts at LVMS, will be racing chassis No. PRS-080 this weekend. This is one of the cars that he tested at Las Vegas in January.

21. Tony Stewart (Points Behind Leader: -149): Stewart has posted five top-10 finishes in eight starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his best finish coming in 2000 (second). The last time Stewart led a lap at LVMS was last season when he led for 54 laps en route to a 21st-place finish because of a flat tire late in the race. The finish stopped Stewart's top 10 streak at four. Stewart, who has an 11.8 average finish at LVMS, will drive chassis No. 120 in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. This is the same car that scored back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Texas in 2006.

22. Ryan Newman (Points Behind Leader: -154): Newman, who has a 20.5 average finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is coming off his worst finish at the track after placing 43rd last year. In 2005, Newman earned his first pole at LVMS marking his fourth consecutive start at the track of fifth or better. Newman will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. PRS-71) that was tested at Indianapolis and Charlotte in 2006.

23. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind Leader: -156): Labonte enjoyed some success in his first eight starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway capturing two poles and four top 10s with Joe Gibbs Racing. Last season saw his first start with Petty Enterprises at the track where he started 17th and finished 30th.

24. Casey Mears (Points Behind Leader: -162): Casey Mears has enjoyed a solid track record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Although Mears has yet to lead a lap, he has scored three consecutive finishes of ninth or better. This weekend will mark his first start at LVMS with Hendrick Motorsports.

25. Sterling Marlin (Points Behind Leader: -165): Marlin has posted three top-10 finishes and one win (2002) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This weekend he will make his second start at the 1.5-mile speedway with Ginn Racing. Last year he finished 36th after the engine expired in the No. 14 Chevrolet in the closing laps.

26. Carl Edwards (Points Behind Leader: -165): Edwards finished 14th in his first NEXTEL Cup start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2005. During that weekend Edwards also won the pole for the Busch race and went on to finish seventh. Last year, Edwards placed 26th and fifth, respectively, in the Cup and Busch race. After what the team called a successful test at Las Vegas, the team has chosen to bring the same car (chassis RK-272) that started and finished the 2006 November Texas race in the 15th position.

27. Ricky Rudd (Points Behind Leader: -168): After a year off, Rudd will return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to make his ninth career start driving in his fourth race at the track with Robert Yates Racing. Rudd, who has yet to score a top 10 at LVMS, tested the No. 88 Ford at Las Vegas and was up on the speed charts in both qualifying and race trim.

28. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind Leader: -171): Jarrett, the inaugural Las Vegas pole winner, is tied with Bobby Labonte for most poles (two) at the 1.5-mile track. His best finish in eight starts came in 2001 when he finished second after starting from the pole. Jarrett has five finishes of eleventh or better and an overall average of 17.3. This weekend will mark his first track start in a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

30. Reed Sorenson (Points Behind Leader: -177): Sorenson has the worst average finish among all full-time drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway thanks to a 40th-place finish in last year's event.

32. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind Leader: -185): Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the site of Kahne's first career pole after he became the first rookie to take the top spot at the track after setting a new track record of 174.904 mph. He went on to lead two times for 43 laps en route to a second-place finish in that event. Kahne's average finish took a major hit in 2005 when he finished 38th after crashing in Turn 4 on lap 102. He was able to rebound last year by posting another top five with a fourth-place finish. Kahne will drive chassis No. 144 (ran last at Indianapolis) in this weekend's race along with a McDonald's paint scheme.

34. Brian Vickers (Points Behind Leader: -201): Vickers' best finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway came last season when he finished 23rd. In 2005, he finished dead last after Dale Earnhardt Jr. clipped him early in the race. This weekend he will look to qualify for his second consecutive race with Team Red Bull. It will also be his first Cup start at the track in something other than a Chevrolet.

36. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind Leader: -213): McMurray has one top-five finish in four starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway - fourth in 2004. Last year, McMurray finished 23rd in his first track start in a Ford with Roush Fenway Racing. The No. 26 team was not happy with the Las Vegas testing results from January and has opted to bring a new car (chassis RK–428) to the track this weekend.

38. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind Leader: -217): Martin Truex Jr. will look to turn his luck around in Las Vegas this weekend driving the same car (chassis No. 053) that was running strong at California before the motor let go.

40. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind Leader: -225): Earnhardt Jr. has one runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2003. That year he led 97 of 144 career laps led at the 1.5-mile speedway. Earnhardt's finishing average of 22.1 took a major hit in 2005 when he was the instigator in an early crash when he clipped the left rear of Brian Vickers. The incident triggered a five car crash and saddled Earnhardt, Jr. with a 42nd-place finish. Last year, Junior started 42nd and finished 27th.

44. Scott Riggs (Points Behind Leader: -268): Riggs' best finish in three starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway came last season when he came home 28th in the No. 10 Dodge.

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

Kahne Doubles Down in Vegas
Pete Pistone
Managing Editor

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Kasey Kahne left Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday night still holding the Nextel Cup track qualifying record.

But he had to best his previous mark set in 2004
in order to do so.

Kahne rocketed around the newly-reconfigured LVMS oval with a lap of 184.856 mph to win his second career Bud Pole at Vegas.

The run led a Dodge sweep of the top four spots for Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 with David Stremme, Elliott Sadler and Juan Pablo Montoya filling up the first two rows.

Jeff Burton's Chevrolet rounded out the first five qualifiers.

Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and Kurt Busch completed the top ten.

Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson will start 23rd on Sunday with Tony Stewart 25th and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 28th.

Stewart was very critical of the new track layout and the tire the teams will use this weekend.

"I will guarantee you that this is definitely the worst Goodyear tire I think I have ever been on in my entire nine years of driving the Nextel Cup Series," he said. "It never ceases to amaze me on how they can always trump their ace on how bad they can build tires for us."

Rookie Aric Armirola will make his first career Nextel Cup start, qualifying the Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy with a lap of 180.174 mph. Jon Wood will also make his inaugural series start, qualifying the Wood Brothers Ford into the show.

Several drivers made contact with the wall during their qualifying attempts including Michael Waltrip, who will miss his second straight race on Sunday, Bobby Labonte and Ken Schrader, who will see his streak of 111 consecutive Cup starts come to an end.

Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 will take the green flag at 4 p.m. (ET.

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Track changes make for interesting opening day at Vegas
Associated Press


LAS VEGAS (AP) - Changes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway received mixed reviews on Friday after a bumpy opening at the track.

The track was overhauled during the offseason, with the surface repaved and the banking increased from 12 degrees to 20 in a project speedway owner Bruton Smith believes will improve the quality of racing.

But after speeds in the January test reached levels two-time champion Tony Stewart deemed "ridiculous," NASCAR threw the teams a curve by mandating the use of a smaller gas tank. Goodyear followed by issuing harder left-side tires that the drivers universally seem to loathe.

Stewart, the two-time series champion, was critical of the track changes earlier in the week but had shifted his anger to the tires by Friday.

"I will guarantee you that this is definitely the worst Goodyear tire I think I have ever been on in my entire nine years of driving the Nextel Cup Series," he said. "It never ceases to amaze me on how they can always trump their ace on how bad they can build tires for us."

It all made for an interesting day of track activity, especially during qualifying, when a flat right front tire sent Bobby Labonte into the wall and David Gilliland wrecked when he spun on his lap. Both drivers will go to backups for Sunday's race.

Ken Schrader wasn't as lucky. He wrecked and will have to go home - ending a streak of 111 consecutive races - because he wasn't guaranteed a spot in the field. Same for Michael Waltrip, who spun and will miss his second straight race.

Still, two-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson said the track is good.

"I think the track is in good shape," he said. "It's not the smoothest resurface job that we've been on, but I think it will help us find an outside lane to make for better racing.

"I've found that the middle of the track was working really well for myself. As the races wear on, we'll need to get a lane higher up the race track and get up near the wall. I think it's really going to put on a good show and they've made a lot of good changes to this race track."

But Kevin Harvick wasn't impressed, saying the changes made Las Vegas an ordinary track.

"I think the old race track had a little bit of character. The asphalt was worn out and you could move around the race track," he said. "I think it's hard to tell how it's going to race until you get out there and race. It's just one of those mile-and-a-half tracks now."

BUSCH BUMP-UPS:

The Busch Series cars were first on the track Friday morning for two crash-filled practice sessions.

At least seven cars hit the wall or wrecked, forcing four of them into backups.

David Ragan, Mike Wallace, Kyle Krisloff and Ward Burton all pulled out the secondary cars after wrecks. Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton all scraped the wall, but the damage was minimal.

Kevin Lepage wasn't so lucky.

He had to withdraw from the race after his fuel line broke at the start of practice, starting a fire that destroyed the car.

"Either the fitting cracked or wasn't tightened or something," Lepage said. "We didn't even make a lap, and the thing caught on fire."

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

Sundays race is going to be a crap shoot after watching the way the Busch race played out.

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

I was hesitant all week on todays race and didn't make a single bet before qualifying since I thought they would have problems with the new surface at Las Vegas and boy was I ever correct but I have to make a bet or two to watch the race so here goes.

Kurt Busch 15/1

Denny Hamlin 30/1

Elliot Sadler 35/1

wink

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UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400: Reconfiguring Vegas
by Brian Gabrielle

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

No, okay, it was pretty much just the best of times.

After getting shut out at the Daytona 500, for me the race in Fontana two weeks ago was a breath of fresh air: Matt Kenseth held on for the outright win, and Greg Biffle did his part by toppling Casey Mears in a head-to-head match-up. Kenseth's win gives us a nice big bankroll heading into a Vegas race that should be crazy.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway used to be a flat track: low banking in the turns, so brakes were extremely important. Now LVMS has been completely changed: it's got 20 degrees of banking in the turns, and eight degrees in the front and back stretches. These factors, plus a slick racing surface, should combine to make Sunday's race both incredibly fast and a crash-fest. Will Vegas now be the fastest track in Nextel Cup racing? It could very well be. In terms of configuration, the new Vegas is a lot like the new Homestead, and setups on these cars will be kissing cousins with the high-torque setups at Bristol and Dover. We should look at results from all those tracks (especially Homestead) when making our picks this week. Let's get to it.

Last Week: Kenseth's win at +1656 (and Biffle's H2H win at -180) made up for our Daytona failings. For the year, then, we sit at a positive net 1.48 units, on three total units wagered; that's a return of 49.3% on the young season.

Take Jimmie Johnson (+650), 1/6th unit. The #48 car was coming two Sundays ago, but Johnson made a rare mistake by speeding on Pit Row, and could never quite get back up front at the race's end. As it was, J.J. finished third at Fontana, signaling that his cookie-cutter program is alive and well. I've said this many times, but there's no better driver/chief combo than Johnson and Chad Knaus when it comes to adjusting that day's car to maximize a finish. Add to this mix the fact that Johnson has been very strong at the reconfigured Homestead (a second, a third, a ninth and a crash-induced 40th), and he's a great bet for Sunday.

Take Kasey Kahne (+500), 1/6th unit. Kahne was super-fast at Fontana, as befitting his status as the current king of the downforce tracks. Unfortunately, his engine exploded not even halfway through the race, giving him a terrible 38th-place finish. This Friday, Kahne was back to his old tricks at a downforce track, practicing fastest and then qualifying on the pole. You have to believe that the week off came at a good time for the #9 bunch; they went back to the shop, figured out what went wrong with the engine program at Fontana, and will go on from there. There's been some speculation that the changeover from leaded to unleaded fuel was somehow to blame for Kahne's woes, but that seems far-fetched. I think the Evernham engines hold together this week, and finish strong.

Take Kevin Harvick (+1200), 1/6th unit. Don't undervalue Happy. He probably should have two race wins already this year; he won at Daytona, of course, and he was tracking down Kenseth at Fontana with a faster car when a red flag came out, whereupon he suffered a flat tire and finished just 17th. Don't discount the value of momentum, and the Richard Childress cars have a ton of it. I also look at the #29's recent past at Homestead, Bristol and Dover, and see a pattern of excellence. At Homestead, Harvick has the second-best finishing average of any driver since the reconfiguration (behind only Greg Biffle (+2000)); he's finished second, fifth, eighth and 10th in those four events. He didn't look great in the first practice or qualifying, but his teammate Jeff Burton (+1200) did, and perhaps the #31 shares some notes with Happy. I still like this bet.

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

mvbski wrote:


I was hesitant all week on todays race and didn't make a single bet before qualifying since I thought they would have problems with the new surface at Las Vegas and boy was I ever correct but I have to make a bet or two to watch the race so here goes.

Kurt Busch 15/1

Denny Hamlin 30/1

Elliot Sadler 35/1

wink


1       Jimmie Johnson  +430
2     Tony Stewart     +950
3     Kasey Kahne     +700
4     Matt Kenseth     +750
5     Jeff Gordon     +1200
6     Kevin Harvick     +1200
7     Kyle Busch     +1200
8     Dale Earnhardt Jr +1200
9     Greg Biffle     +2800
10     Carl Edwards     +2200
11     Jeff Burton     +800
12     Denny Hamlin     +3000
13     Kurt Busch     +2500
14     Mark Martin     +1500
15     Clint Bowyer     +1500
16     Martin Truex Jr +6500
17     Scott Riggs     +4000
18     Elliott Sadler     +2800
19     Ryan Newman +8000
20     Casey Mears     +5000
21     Jamie McMurray     +5000
22     Reed Sorrenson     +5000
23     Juan Montoya     +3500
24     Field (All Others)     +3000

Adding the field since I think anyone could win this race and I get 20 cars at a nice price.

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Re: UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 News and Notes

Two laps in and we have the first crash  big_smile

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