Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Phoenix


Phoenix International Raceway Data

Race: 35 of 36 (11-13-11)
Track Size: 1 mile
# Banking/1 and 2: 10 - 11 degrees
# Banking/3 and 4: 8 - 9 degrees
# Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
# Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
# Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
# Backstretch: 1,551 feet

Driver Rating at Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson 121.8
Jeff Gordon 103.3
Kurt Busch 100.3
Carl Edwards 99.6
Mark Martin 99.4
Denny Hamlin 98.3
Tony Stewart 98.1
Kyle Busch 98.1
Kevin Harvick 95.9
Greg Biffle 94.8

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-11 races (13 total) at Phoenix.

Qualifying/Race Data

2010 pole winner: Carl Edwards (136.389 mph, 26.395 seconds)
2010 race winner: Carl Edwards (110.758 mph, 11-14-10)
Track qualifying record: Carl Edwards (137.279 mph, 26.224 seconds, 2-27-11)
Track race record: Tony Stewart (118.132 mph, 11-7-99)

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Re: Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Phoenix


1 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 AFLAC Ford)


# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.1

2011 Rundown

# One win, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s; two poles
# Average finish of 9.7
# Led 23 races for 757 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; three poles
# Average finish of 13.0 in 14 races
# Average Running Position of 13.6, ninth-best
# Driver Rating of 99.6, fourth-best
# 252 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.428 mph, second-fastest
# 2,827 Laps in the Top 15 (68.6%), eighth-most

2 - Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.9

2011 Rundown

# Four wins, seven top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 12.6
# Led 19 races for 688 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
# Average finish of 11.7 in 19 races
# Average Running Position of 10.4, fourth-best
# Driver Rating of 98.1, seventh-best
# 559 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.417 mph, fourth-fastest
# 3,122 Laps in the Top 15 (75.7%), fourth-most
# 336 Quality Passes, fourth-most

3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.2

2011 Rundown

# Four wins, nine top fives, 18 top 10s
# Average finish of 11.4
# Led 16 races for 391 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s
# Average finish of 13.8 in 17 races
# Average Running Position of 11.7, seventh-best
# Driver Rating of 95.9, ninth-best
# 154 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
# 506 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.322 mph, eighth-fastest
# 2,981 Laps in the Top 15 (72.3%), sixth-most
# 281 Quality Passes, eighth-most

4 - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Crown Royal Ford)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.8

2011 Rundown

# Three wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles
# Average finish of 11.8
# Led 21 races for 811 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, five top fives, eight top 10s
# Average finish of 17.2 in 18 races
# Average Running Position of 17.3, 18th-best
# Driver Rating of 84.6, 14th-best
# 137 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
# 550 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.163 mph, 12th-fastest
# 278 Quality Passes, ninth-most

5 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.8

2011 Rundown

# Three wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 14.6
# Led 18 races for 283 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Average finish of 27.5 in four races
# Average Running Position of 26.3, 34th-best
# Driver Rating of 59.7, 29th-best

6 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.4

2011 Rundown

# Two wins, 14 top fives, 21 top 10s
# Average finish of 11.3
# Led 22 races for 1,113 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Four wins, 11 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 4.8 in 16 races
# Series-best Average Running Position of 5.4
# Series-best Driver Rating of 121.8
# Series-high 434 Fastest Laps Run
# Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 123.850 mph
# Series-high 3,918 Laps in the Top 15 (95.0%)
# 339 Quality Passes, third-most

7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Retro Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 83.5

2011 Rundown

# Four top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 14.3
# Led 9 races for 52 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s
# Average finish of 18.0 in 18 races
# Average Running Position of 16.3, 17th-best
# Driver Rating of 84.8, 13th-best
# 111 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-most
# 513 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most

8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.1

2011 Rundown

# Three wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 12.7
# Led 21 races for 915 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Two wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles
# Average finish of 10.0 in 25 races
# Average Running Position of 9.7, second-best
# Driver Rating of 103.3, second-best
# 169 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.410 mph, fifth-fastest
# 3,421 Laps in the Top 15 (83.0%), third-most
# 268 Quality Passes, 11th-most

9 - Kurt Busch (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.0

2011 Rundown

# Two wins, eight top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
# Average finish of 13.8
# Led 19 races for 713 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s
# Average finish of 12.9 in 17 races
# Average Running Position of 9.9, third-best
# Driver Rating of 100.3, third-best
# 242 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.292 mph, 11th-fastest
# 2,933 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0%), seventh-most
# 244 Quality Passes, 13th-most

10 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.4

2011 Rundown

# One win, five top fives, 13 top 10s
# Average finish of 16.3
# Led 15 races for 450 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# Five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 11.6 in 12 races
# Average Running Position of 11.7, sixth-best
# Driver Rating of 98.3, sixth-best
# 192 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.419 mph, third-fastest
# 286 Quality Passes, seventh-most

11 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)


# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.1

2011 Rundown

# Four wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 12.0
# Led 25 races for 1,439 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, two top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
# Average finish of 12.9 in 13 races
# Average Running Position of 11.0, fifth-best
# Driver Rating of 98.1, eighth-best
# 162 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.327 mph, seventh-fastest
# 3,518 Laps in the Top 15 (85.3%), second-most
# Series-high 387 Quality Passes

12 - Ryan Newman (No. 39 U.S. Army Veterans Day Chevrolet)

# Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.9

2011 Rundown

# One win, eight top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
# Average finish of 14.4
# Led 18 races for 403 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook

# One win, six top fives, six top 10s; four poles
# Average finish of 19.3 in 18 races
# Average Running Position of 14.4, 12th-best
# Driver Rating of 89.7, 11th-best
# 499 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
# Average Green Flag Speed of 123.128 mph, 13th-fastest
# 2,986 Laps in the Top 15 (72.4%), fifth-most
# 359 Quality Passes, second-most

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Re: Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

Kobalt Tools 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

With only two races left in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship, this is shaping up to be the greatest Chase ever. Tony Stewart won his fourth race in the eight Chase races to pull within three points of point leader Carl Edwards. For the first 26 races of the season, Stewart didn’t have a single win. It’s on one of the more amazing ’flick-of-the-switch’ turnarounds in NASCAR history.

Meanwhile, Edwards holds steady. Even though Stewart has been talking confidently with the media and trying to rattle Edwards mentally, Edwards has met the challenge. Although he only has one win on the season (Las Vegas), Edwards has 17 top-five finishes on the season, including Sunday’s runner-up finish at Texas.

Stewart gained five points on him Sunday, but still remains three points back which makes this week’s race at Phoenix and next week at Homestead one of the more anticipated races ever in the sport.

We’ve seen great finishes down the stretch like last season when Jimmie Johnson overtook Denny Hamlin to win his unprecedented fifth straight title, but that’s just it. Johnson isn’t involved and there is a bit more excitement with having two new faces finally racing for the title. Nothing against Johnson, he’s one of the best ever, but NASCAR fans for some reason don’t like continued excellence.

Tony Stewart is a driver that almost everyone universally likes. He’s a two-time NASCAR Champion and is also the last driver other than Johnson to win a championship back in 2005. He is the sentimental choice to win and is now also the co-favorite to win according to odds posted at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

Just three weeks ago following Talladega, Stewart was listed at 9/2 (Bet $100 to win $450). Following his Martinsville win two weeks ago, he was EVEN money. With two races left, he is now 10-to-11 (Bet $110 to win $100), the same odds posted on Edwards even though Edwards has a slight lead.

At this juncture last season, Edwards took control and gave us a preview of what was in store for the No. 99 team in 2011. He won at Phoenix and then Homestead to close out the season.

In their first go-around at Phoenix this season in February, Edwards had the best car on the track throughout practice and sat on the pole, but he was the victim of a loose Kyle Busch car early forcing the team to make an early visit to the garage and eventually settled for a 28th-place finish. Stewart finished seventh in the race.

Stewart won at Phoenix in his first Cup start there in 1999. The win didn’t come as much of a shock because of his past experience there in USAC and Indy cars. What has been shocking is that he hasn’t won at Phoenix since then, a span of 18 races. He’s been runner-up on three occasions, the last coming in 2009, which is also his last top-five finish on the track.

A great tool to better prepare for who might win this week is to look back at the past races held at Phoenix, Richmond and New Hampshire this season. The February Phoenix race was so long ago that it may not be a great indicator to what will happen Sunday, but Richmond last ran Sept. 10 and New Hampshire Sept. 25 making it very relevant.

Each of three tracks are different in size and configuration, but the flat banking and similar distances make them so similar to the point that most crew chiefs use the same chassis for each of the races.

At Richmond, Edwards finished second with Stewart coming in eighth. At New Hampshire, Stewart won with Edwards finishing eighth.

The driver that perhaps stood out the most in those two races from a consistency basis was Jeff Gordon, who happened to win the Phoenix race in February making him one of the favorites to win this week. Jimmie Johnson has been a terror at Phoenix over his last 10 races there finishing no worse than fifth in each start. He has won four times over that span, the last coming in the fall of 2009.

Like his teammate Stewart, Ryan Newman had plenty of USAC experience at Phoenix, but never cashed in on it until last spring when he finally won after 15 starts on the track. Since then, Newman has finished second and was fifth in February.

Kevin Harvick is sitting third in points, 33 behind Edwards, and is 30/1 (Bet $100 to win $3,000) at the Hilton for those thinking that something crazy is in store for us over the next two weeks. He is a two-time winner at Phoenix and has finished sixth and fourth, respectively, in his last two starts there.

The track did a repaving job which may wipe away much of the past trends, or at least make the drivers drive much differently according to Edwards.

“Phoenix is really a big unknown," Edwards said earlier this week. "I would say this first trip will be more of a crew chief/engineer race. You’re going to have to pay attention to tire wear. The setup is going to be very important. The track is very smooth and easy to drive. I don’t know that you’ll be able to go there and manhandle the car and hustle it around there like you could at the old Phoenix, at least not this first time.”

Kyle Busch comes off his one-race suspension and rolls into a familiar place where the Busch brothers have had some past controversy. In 2005, Kurt Busch won at Phoenix in the spring. In the fall race that year, he was arrested on DUI suspicion in the outside of the Phoenix track. Because he had just signed a deal to move from Roush racing to Penske, an angry Jack Roush suspended him for the Phoenix race. Kyle Busch in a bit of a brotherly love moment, went on to win the race and dedicated it to his suspended brother.

Kyle Busch hasn’t won at Phoenix since then, but did finish runner-up to Gordon this year. Following that race, Gordon was more excited about passing Busch then actually winning the race. Look for a refocused Kyle Busch to come back string Sunday and win.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #18 Kyle Busch (7/1)
2) #99 Carl Edwards (7/1)
3) #24 Jeff Gordon (8/1)
4) #39 Ryan Newman (25/1)
5) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)

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Re: Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Phoenix
By: Jeff Wackerlin

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 312-lap event.

Who's HOT at Phoenix
• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers in wins (4), laps led (876) and average finish (4.8).
• Spring winner Jeff Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 18 of his 25 starts.
• Denny Hamlin has posted a 9.2 average finish in his last 10 starts.
• Kurt Busch has posted five top 10s and led 243 laps in the last six races.
• Kevin Harvick, who swept both races in 2006, has a 5.0 average finish in his last two starts.
• Ryan Newman has finished in the top five in his last three starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Defending race winner Carl Edwards has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts.
• Mark Martin has posted five finishes of eighth or better, including one win, in his last seven starts.

Keep an Eye On at Phoenix
• Tony Stewart, who finished seventh in the spring at Phoenix, led testing on the new PIR configuration last month.
• Kasey Kahne has finished sixth or better in five of the last six races this season.
• Jeff Burton has finished in the top 10 in seven of his 14 starts with Richard Childress Racing at Phoenix.
• Matt Kenseth has posted an average finish of 8.3 in his last three starts at Phoenix.
• AJ Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard each ranked in the top 10 in testing speeds at Phoenix.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 10th in the spring at Phoenix, is coming off consecutive top 10s on the season for the first time since June.
• Kyle Busch has posted a 9.4 average finish in the nine races with the COT at Phoenix.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Tony Stewart
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Craig Moore: AJ Allmendinger
Steve Blevins: Greg Biffle
John Singler: Jeff Burton
Ricky Hamber: Jimmie Johnson

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings


(All stats/notes are in regards to Phoenix unless noted)

1. Carl Edwards: Defending race winner after leading 93 laps from the pole; Won third pole in the spring and led 21 laps up until an incident with Kyle Busch on lap 60; Has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts; 13.0 average finish in 14 starts; Fourth-best driver rating in last 13 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 782) that he finished eighth with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

2. Tony Stewart:
Coming off first top 10 (seventh) in last four starts; 11.7 average finish in 19 starts; Won in his first track start in 1999 with Joe Gibbs Racing; Led testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.762 mph.

3. Kevin Harvick: Coming off eighth top 10 (fourth) in 17 starts; Fourth in average finish (12.0) and second in laps led (307) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Third in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.258 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 353) that he last finished 10th with at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October.

4. Matt Kenseth:
Seventh-place finish in this event last year is eighth top 10 in 18 starts; Winner of the 2002 race; 10th in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 135.461 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 751) that he last finished sixth with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

5. Brad Keselowski:
Coming off best finish (15th) in four starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 801) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

6. Jimmie Johnson:
Leads all drivers with a 2.5 average finish and 791 laps led in the last 10 races; Second in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.736 mph; Best driver rating in past 13 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 18th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr:
Coming off third top 10 in seven starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 16.4 average finish with HMS; Won the 2003 and 2004 race with Dale Earnhardt, Inc; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 694) that he finished 17th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and tested at Phoenix.

8. Jeff Gordon: Coming off second win in 25 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (11.7) and third in laps led (269) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Second-best driver rating in the past 13 races.

9. Kurt Busch: Coming off sixth top 10 in 11 starts with Penske Racing; Won the 2005 spring race with Roush Racing; Has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six starts; Fifth in laps led (243) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Third-best driver rating in last 13 races; Will race the same car (chassis No. 748) that his teammate Brad Keselowski last drove to a 20th-place finish at Dover International Speedway.

10. Denny Hamlin:
11.6 average finish in 12 starts: Last of six top 10s (third) came in this event in 2009; Second in average finish (9.2) that have competed in the last 10 races.

11. Kyle Busch: Coming off eighth top 10 (second) in 13 starts; Won this event in 2005 with Hendrick Motorsports; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (12.3) that have competed in the last 10 races.

12. Ryan Newman:
Has finished in the top five in last three starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race; 19.3 average finish in 18 starts.

13. Clint Bowyer:
Last of four top 10s in 12 starts came in the 2010 spring race in seventh; 16.4 average finish in 12 starts; Has yet to lead a lap in last 10 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 365) that he last finished 22nd with at Richmond International Raceway in September.

14. Kasey Kahne: 18.0 average finish in two starts with Team Red Bull; Coming off fourth top 10 (sixth) in 14 starts; 20.4 average finish.

15. Greg Biffle:
Fourth-place finish in this event last year was fifth top 10 in 15 starts; 14.9 average finish.

16. AJ Allmendinger: Coming off first top 10 in six starts; Won the pole for the 2010 spring race; Fifth in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 136.835 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 736) that he tested at Phoenix.

17. Marcos Ambrose: 15.3 average finish in six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 653) that he tested at Phoenix last month.

18. David Ragan:
Only top 10 (eighth) came in this event in 2008; 26.1 average finish in nine starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 759) that he last finished seventh with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

19. Juan Pablo Montoya: Last of two top 10s in nine starts came in the 2010 spring race in fifth; 17.2 average finish; Seventh in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 136.090 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1109) that he last finished 15th with at Richmond International Raceway.

20. Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 15 in nine starts; Ninth in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 135.506 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he last finished 22nd with at Darlington Raceway.

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Re: Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle

One thing is certain as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix for the penultimate race of the season, Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500: There is a great deal of uncertainty.

Phoenix International Raceway has undergone a ton of changes since the series visited here in the spring. The changes include widening the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet and a reconfigured pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls.

More importantly, the dogleg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 has been pushed out 95 feet. The turn radius of the dogleg was tightened from 800 to 500 feet. The speedway implemented variable banking that will form two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2, 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dogleg and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4.

What NASCAR is left with is something drivers are calling the “wildcard track”.

The only laps any drivers have turned on the new track came at two separate test sessions, one in August and the other last month.

With a totally different race track, past stats can’t really be used to pick favorites this weekend. Instead, in-season momentum might be the only way to analyze this Sunday’s race.

No two drivers have more momentum right now than the two drivers separated by three points at the top of the standings: Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.

Both have run more laps at Phoenix than most drivers, having participated in both the tests. So far during the Chase, Stewart and Edwards have both scored the exact same number of points: 313. Both have a single victory here at Phoenix.

So who is the top favorite? Give the nod to Stewart, the winner of four Chase races this postseason, including the last two and the driver who turned the fastest lap during October’s test.

“The exit of turn two is a lot more open. You definitely make the apex of the corner a lot sooner, and it leads you out off the corner – it’s a lot easier to get off of turn two than it used to be,” Stewart told reporters. “With the dogleg, it’s a little different. It’s somewhat like a roller-coaster with how it’s got an elevation change, going from the banking on the outside to down on the bottom and then back to the outside. After that, the rest of the track is pretty similar to the way it was. They did a really good job in laying the pavement down. It’s really smooth.”

That doesn’t mean Edwards is down for the count. He has just as much experience on the new track as Stewart and could easily go to Victory Lane Sunday.

In the midst of one of the most dramatic 10-race playoffs in NASCAR history, Kevin Harvick would love to create a bit of drama his own. Harvick is third in the standings, 33 points back. Should the top two falter, Harvick, who swept the events here in 2006, could insert himself as a legitimate title contender with a win Sunday.

“I think there are a lot of unknowns with the repave and the things that have the potential to happen,” Harvick told the media. “I look at Phoenix a lot like Martinsville. The Roush cars didn’t run very well there and we have to run well there. So we’re looking forward to it.”

Spoiler alert

Another driver who turned a lot of laps during the tests sessions and is looking for another win is Jeff Gordon. Gordon may be out of contention for the title, but not for race wins and he could accomplish that task Sunday.

Head to head

Kurt Busch vs. Ryan Newman: The race for the 10th spot in the Chase standings could actually prove to be one to watch this week. Kurt Busch currently occupies the 10th spot and Ryan Newman is in 12th. Both have won at Phoenix in the past. Newman was fifth in the spring while Busch was eighth. Both have had some highlight moments in the Chase but look for Newman to finish ahead of Busch.

Jimmie Johnson vs. Brad Keselowski: Not much is certain as the season draws to a close, except that Jimmie Johnson will likely not repeat as champion. He’s now sixth in points - 55 points out of the lead. He leads all drivers in wins at Phoenix, with four but that was all on the old surface. Brad Keselowski is right on front of him in fifth - 48 points out of first. Keselowski hasn’t lived up to the expectations of many prior to the Chase. Both want to end the season on a strong note. While Johnson could storm to a win, look for him to at least finish ahead of Keselowski Sunday.

Bottom line

This race has been won from the pole four times: Jeff Gordon (spring 2007), Jimmie Johnson (fall 2008), Mark Martin (spring 2009) and Carl Edwards (fall 2010). The race has been won from a Top-10 starting position in 15 of 30 events. Ricky Rudd won the 1995 race from the 29th starting position - the furthest back a race winner has started.

Favorites

Tony Stewart (+500)
Carl Edwards (+600)
Kevin Harvick (+1,200)

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Re: Kobalt Tools 500 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts
Vegasinsider.com

This Week's Race: Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix International Raceway (PIR)

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified     Phoenix*
1     Carl Edwards     6/1     34th     2nd     9th     28th
Notes: 2010 winner with average finish of 13th in 14 starts; using eighth-place Loudon chassis.

2     Tony Stewart     5/1     11th     36th     8th     7th
Notes: 1999 winner, his first PIR Cup start, no wins since; using winning Loudon car from September.

3     Kevin Harvick     12/1     23rd     10th     27th     4th
Notes: Swept 2006 season, has 13.8 average finish in 17 starts; using winning Charlotte chassis.

4     Jeff Gordon     7/1     38th     13th     23rd     1st
Notes: Two-time winner with an average finish of 10th in 25 starts that includes 10 top-5 finishes.

5     Jimmie Johnson     8/1     33rd     12th     16th     3rd
Notes: Four-time winner, has finished fifth or better in 10 straight PIR races; using Loudon chassis.

6     Kyle Busch     8/1     40th     5th     34th     2nd
Notes: 2005 winner with an average finish of 12.9 in 13 starts; only one top-5 since his win.

7     Matt Kenseth     12/1     2nd     38th     1st     12th
Notes: 2002 winner, looked to have one of the best cars in Friday's practice; using Loudon chassis.

8     Ryan Newman     20/1     5th     30th     30th     5th
Notes: 2010 winner which started a current run of three straight top-5s; great Friday practice sessions.

9     Kasey Kahne     15/1     8th     31st     10th     6th
Notes: Career best of fifth in his first PIR Cup start in 2004; best 10 consecutive lap average in practice.

10     Paul Menard     60/1     4th     1st     11th     17th
Notes: Had an excellent Friday practice making him a solid contender; using Las Vegas chassis.

Note: * Results from the first Phoenix race of the season held on February 27, 2011.

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