Ford 400 Betting News and Notes

Ford 400 Betting News and Notes

Ford 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

The dream race matchup is set!

Carl Edwards will meet Tony Stewart in Miami for all the marbles, trophies and accolades that come with winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Edwards maintained his three-point lead over Stewart with a runner-up finish last week at Phoenix while Stewart led the most laps and finished third. This is the closest any two drivers have been heading into the final race of the season since the Chase format was implemented in 2004.

Tony Stewart has won two championships while Edwards is searching for his first. Stewart has won four of the last nine races coming in while Edwards hasn’t won since Las Vegas in March.

While Stewart is emulating the wild card fever we’ve seen with recent champions in football like the Packers, and in baseball like Cardinals, Edwards has been the steadiest of all drivers with 18 top-five finishes to Stewart’s eight.

If we’re looking for who has the hot hand right now, it’s got to be Stewart. But if we look at who has the historical edge since the Homestead-Miami track has been reconfigured, it’s Edwards all day long.

No one in the history of Cup racing at Homestead-Miami has come close to what Edwards has done on the track, which is average a finish of 5.7 in seven starts. He’s won two of the last three races there and is the favorite not only to win the Championship, but the clinching race itself, which would be a rare feat.

The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book posted Edwards as the -155 favorite (Bet $155 to win $100) to win the title over Stewart (+135). The Hilton had the two drivers pick ‘em last week and with Stewart not gaining at Phoenix and Edwards history on the track, a three-point edge in this race is huge.

Stewart has had success on this track winning the first two races ever held on it, but that was under the old flat layout. In 2003, the track made the banking much steeper with speeds similar to what we see at Las Vegas. Since then a Roush driver has won six of the last seven Homestead races, including both of Edwards.

While the Roush drivers have been winning all of these races, Stewart has kind of been an also-ran with no top-five finishes in his last six starts there. Of course this is a complete different scenario for Stewart. No one is hotter than him right now and we also have to consider that Stewart didn’t have race hard in the 2005 race because he was winning the championship.

Last season we saw the mental game play a part and get to Denny Hamlin and in the last few weeks we’ve seen Tony Stewart be very vocal about telling Edwards how hard he's coming.

"We're going to make him sweat it out," Stewart said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead heat going in there. I'm pumped. I wish I was going to Homestead tomorrow."

It remains to be seen if Edwards can be rattled mentally, but just based on his past success on the track it seems doubtful. If anything, the pressure of the moment could be what gets him like it would any athlete in any sport going for their first big championship. But he's taking it all in stride and not giving Stewart any bulletin board material.

"This is going to be a battle. I truly believe it's going to be a good race," Edwards said. "That place is magical for us. I really enjoy going there.

"I hope it comes down to the fastest guy winning the race."

Look for Edwards to race for the win and not chance anything by simply following Stewart around. He’ll have a good enough car to do it and if he can stay out of the way of jalopies and hobo's like Brian Vickers, he should have a car to get him there. His closest competitor in the race will likely be Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

Like Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson hasn’t had to really compete at a high level in the last five Homestead races just because he was cautiously racing for a clinching finish to seal the deal on his championships. It would be nice to see the five-time champ reverse rolls with Edwards like last year when they both did celebratory burn-outs at the end of the race, kind of like a passing of the torch.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #99 Carl Edwards (6/1)
2) #17 Matt Kenseth (7/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (8/1)
4) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)
5) #14 Tony Stewart (10/1)

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Odds & Ends - Homestead


Homestead-Miami Speedway Data

Race: 36 of 36 (11-20-11)
Track Size: 1.5 miles
Race Length: 267 laps/400.5 miles
Banking/Corners: 18 - 20 degrees
Banking/Straights: 4 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,760 feet
Backstretch: 1,760 feet

Driver Rating at Homestead

Carl Edwards 117.5
Martin Truex Jr. 107.4
Matt Kenseth 105.7
Kevin Harvick 102.8
Greg Biffle 97.4
Jimmie Johnson 97.4
Denny Hamlin 92.5
Kasey Kahne 89.6
Mark Martin 89.6
Jeff Gordon 88.7

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-11 races (six total) at Homestead-Miami.

Qualifying/Race Data


2010 pole winner: Kasey Kahne (176.904 mph, 30.525 seconds)
2010 race winner: Carl Edwards (126.585 mph, 11-21-10)
Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray (181.111 mph, 29.816 seconds, 11-16-03)
Track race record: Tony Stewart (140.335 mph, 11-14-99)

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Driver Highlights - Homestead


1 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 AFLAC Ford)


Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.8

2011 Rundown

One win, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 9.5
Led 24 races for 784 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Two wins, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 5.7 in seven races
Series-best Average Running Position of 7.7
Series-best Driver Rating of 117.5
Series-high 173 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.956 mph
Series-high 1,379 Laps in the Top 15 (86.0%)
236 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most

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

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.1

2011 Rundown

Four wins, eight top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 12.3
Led 20 races for 848 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 12.4 in 12 races
Average Running Position of 14.6, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 87.6, 11th-best
60 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
415 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.140 mph, 10th-fastest
1,037 Laps in the Top 15 (64.7%), seventh-most
235 Quality Passes, eighth-most

3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet)

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.9

2011 Rundown

Four wins, nine top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish of 11.6
Led 16 races for 391 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Five top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 7.9 in 10 races
Average Running Position of 9.8, third-best
Driver Rating of 102.8, fourth-best
62 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.554 mph, fifth-fastest
1,264 Laps in the Top 15 (78.9%), second-most
243 Quality Passes, fifth-most

4 - 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 14.7
Led 19 races for 287 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Average finish of 20.3 in three races
Average Running Position of 25.2, 31st-best
Driver Rating of 59.8, 31st-best

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

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.6

2011 Rundown

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

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Four top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 11.6 in 10 races
Average Running Position of 12.6, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 97.4, fifth-best
375 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.431 mph, sixth-fastest
1,221 Laps in the Top 15 (76.2%), fourth-most
248 Quality Passes, third-most

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

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.4

2011 Rundown

Three wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 12.4
Led 22 races for 860 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

One win, two top fives, four top 10s
Average finish of 18.8 in 11 races
Average Running Position of 10.2, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 105.7, third-best
74 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.560 mph, fourth-fastest
1,228 Laps in the Top 15 (76.6%), third-most
216 Quality Passes, 11th-most

7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet)

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8

2011 Rundown

Four top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 14.6
Led 9 races for 52 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Average finish of 24.2 in 11 races
Average Running Position of 23.4, 29th-best
Driver Rating of 64.1, 28th-best
83 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
508 Green Flag Passes, second-most

8 - Kurt Busch (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge)

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.2

2011 Rundown

Two wins, eight top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 14.1
Led 20 races for 770 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

One win, four top fives, four top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 19.4 in 10 races
Average Running Position of 23.4, 28th-best
Driver Rating of 74.8, 21st-best
76 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.039 mph, 12th-fastest

9 - Ryan Newman (No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet)

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.1

2011 Rundown

One win, nine top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 14.1
Led 18 races for 403 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Three top 10s
Average finish of 19.1 in nine races
Average Running Position of 14.8, 12th-best
Driver Rating of 82.2, 16th-best
373 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
217 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.0

2011 Rundown

One win, five top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish of 16.2
Led 15 races for 450 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

One win, three top fives, three top 10s
Average finish of 11.2 in six races
Average Running Position of 14.8, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 92.5, seventh-best
63 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
Series-high 516 Green Flag Passes
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237 mph, eighth-fastest
915 Laps in the Top 15 (57.1%), 10th-most
232 Quality Passes, ninth-most

11 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)


Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.8

2011 Rundown

Three wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 13.3
Led 21 races for 915 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

Five top fives, nine top 10s
Average finish of 11.8 in 12 races
Average Running Position of 15.3, 14th-best
Driver Rating of 88.7, 10th-best
54 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
393 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
977 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), eighth-most
258 Quality Passes, second-most

12 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)

Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.8

2011 Rundown

Four wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 12.7
Led 25 races for 1,439 laps

Homestead-Miami Speedway Outlook

One top 10
Average finish of 26.3 in six races
Average Running Position of 18.8, 20th-best
Driver Rating of 84.5, 15th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 162.101 mph, 11th-fastest
200 Quality Passes, 13th-most

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Re: Ford 400 Betting News and Notes

Glance at the 12 drivers in the Chase


A glance at the 12 drivers competing in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship heading into this weekend's race at Homestead (in order of points):

DRIVER: Carl Edwards

CHASE POINTS: First, 2,359 points

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAR: No. 99 Aflac Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Edwards finished second to maintain his lead over Tony Stewart in the standings.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 7

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 1st (2008, 2010)

DRIVER: Tony Stewart

CHASE POINTS: Second, -3

POSITION CHANGE: None.

CAR: No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Led the most laps but eventually finished third, one spot behind Edwards.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 12

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 1st (1999, 2000)

DRIVER: Kevin Harvick

CHASE POINTS: Third, -51

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAR: No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet

TEAM: Richard Childress Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Was eliminated from title contention with a 19th-place finish.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 10

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 2nd (2008)

DRIVER: Brad Keselowski

CHASE POINTS: Fourth, -65

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 1

CAR: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge

TEAM: Penske Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Was eliminated from title contention with an 18th-place finish.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 3

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 13th (2010)

DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson

CHASE POINTS: Fifth, -68

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 1

CAR: No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Saw his five-year run as champion come to an end with a 14th-place finish.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 10

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 2nd (2004, 2010)

DRIVER: Matt Kenseth

CHASE POINTS: Sixth, -70

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2

CAR: No. 17 Crown Royal Ford

TEAM: Roush Fenway Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Was involved in an accident with Brian Vickers that Kenseth believes was intentional.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 11

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 1st (2007)

DRIVER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

CHASE POINTS: Seventh, -102

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAR: No. 88 AMP Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Never contended and finished 24th.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 11

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 13th (2000)

DRIVER: Kurt Busch

CHASE POINTS: Eighth, -107

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 1

CAR: No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge

TEAM: Penske Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Ran out of gas while leading and was penalized for speeding on pit road.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 10

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 1st (2002)

DRIVER: Ryan Newman

CHASE POINTS: Ninth, -107

POSITION CHANGE: Plus 3

CAR: No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Finished fifth at Phoenix.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 9

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 6th (2002)

DRIVER: Denny Hamlin


CHASE POINTS: 10th, -110

POSITION CHANGE: None

CAR: No. 11 FedEx Toyota

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Finished 12th at Phoenix.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 6

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 1st (2009)

DRIVER: Jeff Gordon

CHASE POINTS: 11th, -112

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 2

CAR: No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: Finished 32nd at Phoenix.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 12

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 3rd (2004)

DRIVER: Kyle Busch

CHASE POINTS: 12th, -135

POSITION CHANGE: Minus 1

CAR: No. 18 M&Ms Toyota

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK: His engine blew while Busch was running third.

CAREER HOMESTEAD STARTS: 6

BEST HOMESTEAD FINISH: 8th (2009)

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Driver Handicaps: Homestead-Miami
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday's Ford 400. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 267-lap event.

Who's HOT at Homestead-Miami
• Carl Edwards has finished eighth or better in the last six races, including two wins.
• Kevin Harvick has the best average finish (2.7) in the three races with the COT.
• Greg Biffle leads all drivers with three victories.
• Matt Kenseth is second in laps led (288) on the current track configuration.
• Martin Truex Jr. has posted a 7.6 average finish in his last five starts.
• Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each have finished in the top 10 in seven of their last nine starts.
• Denny Hamlin has one win and a 6.8 average finish in his last five starts.

Keep an Eye On at Homestead-Miami
• AJ Allmendinger has a 8.7 average finish in three starts at Homestead-Miami.
• Kurt Busch (10.7) , Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11.8), Brad Keselowski (12.5) and Marcos Ambrose (12.7) rank in the top 10 in average finish in the races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.
• Kyle Busch is third in laps led (336) in the races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.
• Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne have respective average finishes of 9.3 and 9.7 in the three races with the COT at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Tony Stewart
Pete Pistone: Greg Biffle
Craig Moore: Tony Stewart
Steve Blevins: Tony Stewart
John Singler: Carl Edwards
Ricky Hamber: Tony Stewart

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

(All stats/notes are in regards to Homestead-Miami unless noted)

1. Carl Edwards: Defending race winner; Win was second in the last three races; Has finished eighth or better in last six races; Leads all drivers with a 5.7 average finish; Best driver rating in last six races; Leads all drivers with a 4.9 average finish in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 739) that he finished second with at Texas Motor Speedway.

2. Tony Stewart: 13.8 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Scored sixth top 10 in 12 starts last season; Won first two races on old configuration; Third in average finish (7.9) and second in laps led (503) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 671) that he last led 94 laps with en route to an eighth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

3. Kevin Harvick: Leads all drivers that have competed in the eight races on current track configuration with a 6.5 average finish; Fourth-best driver rating in past six races; Fourth in average finish (9.9) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 373) that he last finished sixth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.

4. Brad Keselowski: Scored best finish last season in 13th; 20.3 average finish in three starts; Eighth in average finish (12.5) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 804) in the Ford 400.

5. Jimmie Johnson: Second among all drivers that have competed in all eight races on current track configuration with a 10.4 average finish; Tied for the fifth-best driver rating in past six races; Seventh in average finish (12.3) and fifth in laps led (267) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.

6. Matt Kenseth: Second in laps led (288) in the eight races on current track configuration; 14.9 average finish in that span; Third-best driver rating in past six races; Second in average finish (7.7) and first in laps led (544) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 741) that he finished fourth with at Texas Motor Speedway.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr: 27.1 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Sixth in average finish (11.8) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 668) that he finished seventh with at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this month.

8. Kurt Busch: Last of three top 10s came in the 2009 race in fourth; Fifth in average finish (10.7) and fourth in laps led (311) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will race the same car (chassis No. 759) that his teammate Brad Keselowski won with at Pocono Raceway in August.

9. Ryan Newman: 20.8 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Last of two top 10s in that span came last year in seventh.

10. Denny Hamlin:
Winner of the 2009 race; 11.2 average finish in six starts; 10th in average finish (13.0) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.

11. Jeff Gordon: 11.5 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Has finished ninth or better in six races in that span; Finished 37th last season after the engine expired.

12. Kyle Busch: 26.3 average finish in six starts; Only top 10 came in 2009 in eighth; Third in laps led (336) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 334) in the Ford 400.

13. Clint Bowyer: 15.4 average finish in five starts; Last of two top 10s came in 2008; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 350) that he last finished eighth wit at Dover International Speedway last month.

14. Kasey Kahne: 15.9 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Eighth-best driver rating in past six races; 3.0 average finish in the last three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.

15. Greg Biffle:
11.6 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Leads al drivers with three wins in that span; Tied for the fifth-best driver rating in past six races; 9.3 average finish and 114 laps led in the last three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011.

16. AJ Allmendinger:
8.7 average finish in three starts; Best finish came last year in fifth; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 783) that he last finished seventh with at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month.

17. Marcos Ambrose:
34.3 average finish in three starts; Best finish came last season in 26th; Ninth in average finish (12.7) in the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 735) that he last finished fifth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

18. Paul Menard:
25.4 average finish in five starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 364) that he last finished 18th with at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

19. Juan Pablo Montoya:
27.8 average finish in five starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1111) in the Ford 400.

20. Mark Martin:
14.4 average in the eight races on the current track configuration; Ninth-best driver rating in past six races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 685) that he finished 17th with at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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NASCAR Betting Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle
Covers.com

It’s all come down to this. After 35 races, more than 10,000 laps and 13,000 miles run, only three points separate first and second place going into the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sunday’s Ford 400 marks the culmination of an entire season and is setting up to be one of the most exciting finales in recent NASCAR history. Ten drivers out of the 12 who started the Chase have been eliminated and it’s now a two-man show.

Carl Edwards holds a razor thin margin over Tony Stewart and, if the past few weeks are any indication, it could come down to the final lap Sunday.

No one else in the field has more motivation to succeed this week than Edwards and Stewart. Edwards though, holds the edge and he enters the weekend as the favorite.

While both drivers have two wins here, Stewarts last victory came in 2000 under the track’s old configuration. Edwards is the defending winner of this race and won here in 2008 as well. More importantly, Edwards has an average finish of 5.7 to Stewart’s 12.4. Edwards also has the highest driver rating among the Top 12 - a 117.5 to Stewart’s 87.6.

While a win is the goal for both, whoever finishes higher Sunday will claim the title of 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Don’t look for either driver to buckle under the pressure. Edwards’ last two finishes: second and second. Stewart’s last two finishes: first and third. Both have an average finish of 2.0 in the last two races.

“I’m just excited to get in the race car this weekend,” Edwards told reporters. “It’s a fun race track and we run very well there.  The last few weeks we’ve run really well.  To be a part of this championship battle is truly an honor.  The team and I are all having fun with it, and we’re going to go to Homestead and give it everything we’ve got, and hopefully we can end up in victory lane again.  That would be a heck of a way to end the season and win the championship.”

Stewart is ready to let it all hang out Sunday, just as he has done in the 10 races that have made up the Chase.

“As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead heat going in there,” Stewart told the media.  “We just got to do our job like we've been doing.  To have three top-three finishes in the last three weeks, pretty proud of that.  I'm still pumped up.  I want to go to Homestead tomorrow and start. I'm pumped up, I'm excited about it and ready to go.”

Of course there will be 41 other drivers hoping to finish the season with a win. Chief among them will be non-Chase driver Greg Biffle. Biffle is a teammate of Edwards’ but don’t look for him to roll over and simply give up. Biffle leads all drivers here with three wins and after being shut out of this year’s Chase wants to end the season in grand fashion.

Head to head

Matt Kenseth vs. Kurt Busch

The final head to head, primetime matchup pits Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. Neither driver has made much noise during the Chase, but both have victories at Homestead and could surprise with a win. Whatever happens, the stats say Kenseth will come out ahead in this matchup.

Denny Hamlin vs. Jeff Gordon

Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon have been back markers the entire Chase. Both were favorites that failed to deliver when the Chase started back in September. Hamlin won here in 2009 while Gordon has never visited Victory Lane at Homestead. Both have nearly identical average finishes here - Hamlin 11.2, Gordon 11.8 - but Hamlin has been farther off his game than Gordon, look for Gordon to finish ahead of Hamlin.

Bottom Line

The race has been won from the pole twice: Bill Elliott (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002) and from a Top-10 starting position in nine of 12 races. Denny Hamlin won in 2009 from the 38th starting position - the furthest back a race winner has started.

Favorites

Carl Edwards (+450)
Tony Stewart (+400)
Greg Biffle (+1,500)

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Practice Notes - Homestead
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Practice Notes - Homestead

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified     Texas*
1     Carl Edwards     9/2     2nd     1st     1st     2nd
Notes: Two-time winner with a track best 5.7 average finish in seven starts; using Texas chassis.

2     Matt Kenseth     6/1     3rd     15th     6th     4th
Notes: 2007 winner with two wins on 1.5-mile tracks in 2011; using Texas chassis this week.

3     Kevin Harvick     6/1     9th     18th     21th     13th
Notes: Two-time runner with a 7.9 average finish in 10 starts; using sixth-place Charlotte car.

4     Tony Stewart     4/1     15th     28th     15th     1st
Notes: Two-time winner under old configuration, no top-5s since 2004; using eighth-place Charlotte car.

5     Jeff Gordon     10/1     8th     12th     7th     6th
Notes: One of two Cup tracks that he’s never won on; owns an 11.8 average finish in 12 starts.

6     Jimmie Johnson     8/1     5th     14th     9th     14th
Notes: Two-time runner-up; one of only five tracks he‘s never won on. Using Charlotte chassis.

7     Ryan Newman     40/1     4th     26th     14th     16th
Notes: Career best finish of sixth came his rookie season in 2002; good practices Saturday in race trim.

8     Greg Biffle     15/1     14th     11th     8th     5th
Notes: Three-time winner from 2004-06; will be using 15th-place Charlotte chassis from October.

9     Brad Keselowski     30/1     25th     10th     5th     24th
Notes: Career best of 13th last season, had a great practice Saturday; will be using new chassis.

10     Dale Earnhardt, Jr.     40/1     1st     23rd     11th     7th
Notes: Has never finished better than 13th in 11 starts; strong practice suggests it could be career day.

Note:* Results from the November 6, 2011 race at Texas Motor Speedway, the last race run on a high-banked 1.5-mile track. Although the track configuration of Texas and Homestead are not similar, the set-up requirements for the cars are.

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