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Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Richmond
VegasInsider.com

Richmond International Raceway Data

Race #: 9 of 36 (04-28-12)
Track Size: .75 miles
Race Length: 300 miles
Banking/corners: 14 degrees
Banking/straights: 8 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,290 feet
Backstretch: 860 feet

Top 12 Driver Rating at Richmond

Denny Hamlin 117.6
Kyle Busch 114.8
Kevin Harvick 112.6
Jeff Gordon 98.5
Clint Bowyer 96.3
Tony Stewart 95.4
Ryan Newman 93.0
Kurt Busch 92.7
Mark Martin 91.5
Jimmie Johnson 88.6
Carl Edwards 86.4
Jeff Burton 85.6

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (14 total) at Richmond.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Juan Pablo Montoya (128.639 mph, 20.989 seconds)
2011 race winner: Kyle Busch (95.280 mph, 04-30-11)
Track qualifying record: Brian Vickers (129.983, 20.772 seconds, 5-14-04)
Track race record: Dale Jarrett (109.047 mph, 9-6-97)

Driver Ratings for Winners

Driver-Year: Pre-Race Driver Rating/Pre-Race Driver Rating Rank

Kyle Busch-2011 Spring: 113.8/2nd
Kyle Busch-2010 Spring: 111.5/3rd
Kyle Busch-2009 Spring: 109.9/3rd
Clint Bowyer-2008 Spring: 88.8/11th
Jimmie Johnson-2007 Spring: 60.3/30th
Dale Earnhardt Jr.-2006 Spring: 65.9/22nd

* Pre-Race Driver Ratings of the year the driver won at Richmond (last six spring races).

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Richmond
VegasInsider.com

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota)

One win, one top five, six top 10s
Average finish of 10.5
Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 96.3, fifth-best
636 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
375 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fifth-most

Jeff Burton (No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet)

One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 14.8
Average Running Position of 15.3, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 85.6, 12th-best
674 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
3,489 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), eighth-most
334 Quality Passes, ninth-most
   
Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet)

One win, four top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish of 17.4
Average Running Position of 14.0, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 92.7, eighth-best
275 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
662 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.474 mph, fifth-fastest
3,480 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), ninth-most
365 Quality Passes, sixth-most

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

Three wins, 11 top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 5.0
Average Running Position of 7.6, third-best
Driver Rating of 114.8, second-best
462 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.863 mph, second-fastest
4,892 Laps in the Top 15 (87.2%), second-most
425 Quality Passes, second-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)

Three top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 15.1
Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 86.4, 11th-best
179 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
718 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.258 mph, 12th-fastest
3,234 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6%), 11th-most
330 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

Two wins, 15 top fives, 24 top 10s; five poles
Average finish of 14.5
Average Running Position of 12.8, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 98.5, fourth-best
295 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.468 mph, sixth-fastest
3,823 Laps in the Top 15 (68.1%), sixth-most
348 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)

Two wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 7.6
Series-best Average Running Position of 6.1
Series-best Driver Rating of 117.6
Series-high 506 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 116.912 mph
4,437 Laps in the Top 15 (92.2%), fourth-most
346 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet)

Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 11.5
Average Running Position of 7.4, second-best
Driver Rating of 112.6, third-best
407 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.771 mph, third-fastest
Series-high 5,161 Laps in the Top 15 (92.0%)
Series-high 458 Quality Passes

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

Three wins, five top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 17.2
Average Running Position of 16.3, 12th-best
Driver Rating of 88.6, 10th-best
187 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.261 mph, 11th-fastest
3,025 Laps in the Top 15 (53.9%), 12th-most
309 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)


One win, three top fives, six top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 19.2
Driver Rating of 85.0, 13th-best
258 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
633 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.283 mph, 10th-fastest
3,004 Laps in the Top 15 (53.5%), 13th-most
298 Quality Passes, 13th-most

Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota)

One win, 17 top fives, 28 top 10s; four poles
Average finish of 12.2
Average Running Position of 13.5, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 91.5, ninth-best
152 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.400 mph, eighth-fastest
3,380 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 10th-most

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

One win, five top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 11.7
Average Running Position of 11.0, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 93.0, seventh-best
662 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.356 mph, ninth-fastest
4,532 Laps in the Top 15 (80.8%), third-most
422 Quality Passes, third-most

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

Three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish of 10.9
Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 95.4, sixth-best
199 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
696 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 116.531 mph, fourth-fastest
3,930 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%), fifth-most
379 Quality Passes, fourth-most

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Richmond 400 Storylines
NASCAR.com

It’s back to the short track for the third and final time this spring. This time the venue is Richmond International Raceway, the .75-mile gem that offers a preview one of the most important races of the season – the cut-off race for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The track, a 0.50-mile dirt track in its 1953 debut but a 0.75-mile triangular-shaped layout since fall 1988, is the third-oldest venue on the current schedule after Martinsville Speedway (1949) and Darlington Raceway (1950).

Momentum figures to be big this week: Denny Hamlin won for the second time on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and has a pair of Richmond victories (fall 2009-10). Kyle Busch has won three consecutive spring races at the track but remains winless through this year’s first eight races. Kevin Harvick is the most recent Richmond winner last September en route to a third-place championship finish.

Several questions loom: Can Hendrick Motorsports finally get its 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory? Will Martin Truex Jr., second in Kansas and enjoying his best points ranking (second) ever, break a winless drought of 175 races?

Richmond’s 400-lap, 300-mile race can be seen on FOX (live, 7:30 p.m. ET).

The NASCAR Nationwide Series roars back into action in Richmond on Friday (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET) with action sports star Travis Pastrana making his long-awaited debut. Virginia native Elliott Sadler is the series points leader by four over defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. NNS points eligible competitors hope to snap a wins drought dating to the spring of 2004.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors begin a count-down to the May 18 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. James Buescher became the season’s second first-time winner on April 21 at Kansas Speedway and trails standings leader Timothy Peters by four points with four of 22 races complete.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

Denny Hamlin Returns Home On A Roll


Denny Hamlin, a Chesterfield, Va. Native, returns to Richmond a winner and will attempt to win back-to-back races for only the second time in his career. (He won the Pocono and Michigan races in consecutive weeks in June 2010.)

He has two wins at his home track and is looking forward to going home. "We've got a lot of stuff leading up -- we have our big Short Track Showdown coming up on Thursday, so we've got a lot of planning. I obviously need to go to Richmond early to get some stuff done and schmooze some of our sponsors for that race for a few days. We're excited. I love going to Richmond anyway, but any time you can go after winning the previous week, it makes it a little more exciting. I'm excited about it. It's a big weekend for us next weekend, and obviously this is a great step to trying to get some promotion for that."

Hamlin, who nabbed his 19th career win last week, looks to become the fourth Virginia native to record 20 or more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, joining Joe Weatherly (25), Ricky Rudd (23) and Jeff Burton (21).

A second local connection for the No. 11 team – crew chief Darian Grubb. Grub, from Floyd, Va., earned an engineering degree from Virginia Tech.

Speaking of Darian Grubb…

A rivalry of sorts is blossoming between he and former boss Tony Stewart. On the wins ledger, both have two on the young season.

Sprint Cup Stars Aid Hamlin’s Foundation

Hamlin’s Short Track Showdown is part of a Thursday night doubleheader that also features the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100. Sprint Cup stars who’ll compete in the foundation event include Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano and Aric Almirola.

Richmond Could Jump-Start Kyle Busch’s Season

Kyle Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond and is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart for most wins among active drivers. It's the fourth anniversary of Busch getting into Earnhardt Jr. and allowing Clint Bowyer to slide through for a win. These four drivers with three wins apiece trail five NASCAR Hall of Famers and one NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee on the all-time list: Richard Petty (13), Bobby Allison (7), David Pearson (6), Rusty Wallace (6), Darrell Waltrip (6) and Dale Earnhardt (5).

Busch ranks 13th in the standings 31 points out of the top 10. Busch’s last victory came last August at Michigan International Speedway, 20 starts ago.

Martin Truex Jr.’s Amazing 2012 Continues

Martin Truex Jr. didn’t break his winless streak in Kansas. He did everything but, finishing a close second to Hamlin after leading 173 laps – the most in any race since his 2007 victory in the fall event at Dover International Speedway. Truex heads to Richmond second in points – his best ranking ever – with a career-best five consecutive top-10 finishes. The New Jersey native has a single top five at Richmond – fifth in the spring of 2008. His best Richmond finish with Michael Waltrip Racing, seventh, came in the spring of 2010.

The secret behind Truex’s resurgence? Well, there are plenty of reasons, but one might be his ability to stay out of trouble. Truex has run 7,142.37 miles since the last time he was listed as being part of an accident or spin that brought out a caution. Of those 7,142.37 miles run, 6,142.876 were on the lead lap. Both figures are best in the series.

Hendrick Motorsports #200Wins Watch
Rick Hendrick leads all active owners with 10 wins and trails only Richard Petty (15) for most wins at the track. Hendrick and Petty are the only owners with double-digit victories at the Virginia short track. His last win at the .75-mile oval came in the fall of 2008 with Jimmie Johnson. Johnson swept both Richmond races in 2007. Johnson finished third in Kansas and continues to strengthen his bid for a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Dale Earnhardt Jr., a three-time Richmond winner (most recently in spring 2006), is a riding a four-race top-10 streak.

Newman Continues 50 Coors Light Poles Watch

Ryan Newman has one pole at Richmond, starting in the top spot for the fall 2004 race. His 11.1 average start at Richmond is 13th-best at the 24 tracks on the circuit. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five poles, trailing NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison (8), Richard Petty (8) and Darrell Waltrip (7). There hasn't been a repeat pole winner back to 2006.

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Richmond 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

This week’s race at Richmond marks the quarter mark of the season with several storylines swirling that have the season shaping up as one of the most unique in recent history. We’ve had six different winners in the first eight races with none of them coming from Jimmie Johnson. We have Greg Biffle with a commanding 15-point lead in the standings and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. sitting fourth only, 21-points behind and mattering once again. Best of all, though, might be the story of Martin Truex Jr. who currently sits second in points after a dominating runner-up performance last week at Kansas.

It’s been very rare over the last decade to see a team consistently perform at a high level that isn’t part of one of the power networks of Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs, Childress and more recently, Stewart. Running a quality NASCAR operation takes a lot of money and every once in a while, you’ll see an outsider step in and perform well over a small stretch on a particular type of track, but not at the magnitude of what Truex Jr. is doing right now with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Waltrip has won as an owner twice with David Reutimann, but the wins never carried over on a consistent basis. After a 12th-place finish at Daytona, Truex Jr. has rapidly moved up the charts with one strong performance after another on all types of tracks to now being second in points. His runner-up finish at Kansas last week was his fifth straight race of finishing eighth or better that includes short tracks, 1.5 and 2-mile tracks.

“Everyone continues to do such a great job at Michael Waltrip Racing," Truex said earlier this week. "It’s been a lot of fun and I really enjoy going to the track each weekend especially when we are running like this. We just need to keep this thing going. We’ve been on one heck of a roll over the last 12 or so races. I realize it is early in the season, but we are right where we want to be. I feel like we are still getting better as a team so I am really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. It is so nice to be a part of Michael Waltrip Racing. I feel like I am contributing to MWR and help building it. This whole experience has really been good for me not only as a driver, but as a person so I owe a lot to Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman and my sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS.”

While Truex Jr. may be disappointed about not getting his first win since 2007, he has to be plenty excited about the bigger picture which suggests he’ll be a contender right there with the Stewart’s, Johnson’s, Kenseth’s and Biffle’s for a championship. MWR has something clicking right now and a win is definitely in their future soon. Maybe not this week, but the best guess would be at all tracks similar to Kansas and Texas, which is quite a few.

The driver we can expect to win this week is Kyle Busch, who has been rather ordinary thus far for such an extraordinary driver. Over his career at Richmond, no one has been better. Busch has averaged a fifth-place finish in his 14 starts with three wins and four runner-up finishes. He has won this Saturday night spring race the last three seasons in a row which is why he is the favorite to win despite the sluggish 2012 start.

Despite all his great success at Richmond, Busch still doesn't have an answer to why he's so good at the track.

“I’m not sure exactly what it is about Richmond that fits my style," Busch Said. "When I first went there in the Trucks, I was terrible. And then they repaved the place and I went there in a Nationwide car with Hendrick Motorsports and pulled off a win right away. It’s been a good track for me ever since then with both the Nationwide and the Cup Series and I have just taken a liking to it. You have to be so technical there. The speeds are really high, but yet it’s a short track. You really have to be on top of your game to be sure the car stays under you.”

Not far behind Busch in the honors department is one Virginia’s own, Denny Hamlin who sports a second best 7.6 average finish at Richmond. The Capital of the Confederacy gets rocking in these Saturday night races and no one gets the type of love Hamlin does and he’s rewarded them with two wins in the fall event, the last coming in 2010. Everything about the Richmond track suits Hamlin style and now he comes in fresh off a Kansas win and is one of only two drivers with two wins on the season. Look for the two Gibbs teammate to slug it out for the win.

Kevin Harvick is a two-time Richmond winner, including the last race held there last fall. He'll be driving the same chassis he was a runner-up finisher with at Phoenix earlier this year and is looking forward to this week's busy schedule.

“Richmond (International Raceway) has been a great track for me," Harvick said. "I really like the short-track style racing, so I’m looking forward to the race. I’ll be driving in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races this time, so the extra track time never hurts. As far as going back with a new team, we just need to keep our focus. The No. 29 team is doing well so far this season, but we just need to quit making the little mistakes and put a whole day together to come out ahead.”

Harvick rarely has a bad run at Richmond and has been right up there with Busch and Hamlin competing for wins the last five seasons. The fact that he's bringing his Phoenix chassis this week should also be a sign that he'll do well beyond all his past exploits. Phoenix and Richmond both translate well with each other and we can carry the data from those two races over to New Hampshire, another short flat track.   

Tony Stewart is a three-time winner at Richmond, but hasn’t had one since 2001. He won three times in his first four years, but none since which is kind of odd. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been competitive. He’s had four runner-up finishes over that span, but only a best of seventh last fall with his new team.

Jimmie Johnson is a three-time Richmond winner, but hasn’t won there since 2008. Hendrick Motorsports has been searching for their 200th Sprint Cup win since Johnson won at Kansas last fall and it’s been hard to come by with most of the pressure on him while his teammates give little indication of helping.

One of those teammates, Earnhardt Jr, might be ready to offer support this week. He’s got three wins at Richmond and is getting close to snapping his own winless streak. It seems like an eternity since Junior last won, and because of that, the Richmond Rowdies might tear the place down if finally does win.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/1)
3) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr (15/1)
4) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (7/1)

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Richmond
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Who's HOT at Richmond

• Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have combined to win four of the last five races.
• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts, including a win last September.
• Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon have respective average finishes of 9.0 and 9.2 in the 10 races with the COT.
• Carl Edwards has finished in the top 10 in the last four races.
• Three-time winner Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts.

Keep an Eye On at Richmond

• Martin Truex Jr. leads all drivers with a 4.8 average finish in the last five races of the season.
• Clint Bowyer has finished has finished sixth in three of his last five starts at Richmond.
• Series points leader Greg Biffle will return in the same car that he finished third with at Phoenix.
• Kasey Kahne will be shooting for his third straight top 10 of the season.
• AJ Allmendinger has posted an 8.7 average finish in his last three starts at Richmond.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top 10 in the last four races of the season.
• Ryan Newman has posted a 10.2 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing at Richmond.
• Mark Martin has posted a 12.2 average finish in 52 starts at Richmond.
• Jeff Burton, who has a 14.8 average finish in 35 starts at Richmond, will be back in the same car that he was running in the top five with at Phoenix prior to an engine failure.
• David Ragan, who finished fourth in both Richmond races last year, will be looking to score his first top 10 with Front Row Motorsports.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kevin Harvick
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ricky Hamber: Kyle Busch
John Singler: Carl Edwards

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Greg Biffle: Last of five top 10s came in 2006 fall race; 14.0 average finish in the two races last season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 778) that he finished third with at Phoenix International Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr: Finished seventh in this event in 2010; 21.5 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Leads all drivers with a 4.8 average finish in the last five races of the season.

Matt Kenseth: Last of nine top 10s came in this event in 2007; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 802) that he finished second with at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Last of 10 top 10s came in the 2008 September race in fourth; 21.0 average finish in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Has finished in the top 10 in the last four races of the season; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 709) that he finished 14th with at Phoenix International Raceway.

Denny Hamlin: Two-time winner; Has finished 11th or better in the last five races; Third-best average finish (5.5) in the two races last season; 7.6 average finish and 1,188 laps led in 12 starts; Best driver rating in the last 14 races.

Kevin Harvick: Coming off second win in 22 starts; Fourth-best average finish (6.5) in the two races last season; Has finished 12th or better in last five races; Third-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 365) that he finished second with at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jimmie Johnson: Last of three wins came in the 2008 September race; Last of seven top 10s in 20 starts came in this event last year in eighth; 10th-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 715) in the Capital City 400.

Tony Stewart: Last of two wins came in this event in 2002; 12.3 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Fifth-best average finish (8.0) in the two races last season; Sixth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 710) in the Capital City 400.

Carl Edwards: Tied for the best average finish (3.5) in the two races last season; Has finished in the top 10 in the last four races; Has combined to lead 219 laps in last three starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 801) that he finished 17th with at Phoenix International Raceway.

Ryan Newman: Winner of the 2003 September race; Coming off 12th top 10 (eighth) in 20 starts; 10.2 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Seventh-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 719) in the Capital City 400.

Clint Bowyer: Winner of this event in 2008; Has finished sixth in three of his last five starts; Fifth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the same car (chassis No. 712) that he finished 30th with at Phoenix International Raceway after struggling with multiple cut tires early in the race.

Joey Logano: 16.5 average finish in six starts; Only top 10 came in the 2010 September race in fourth.

Kyle Busch: Scored third win in this event last year; Tied for the best average finish (3.5) in the two races last season; Has finished sixth or better in last six starts; 859 laps led in 14 starts; Second-best driver rating.

Paul Menard: 28.9 average finish in 10 starts; Best finish came in this event in 2007 in 16th; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 380) in the Capital City 400.

Brad Keselowski: Coming off best finish (12th) in five starts; 23.0 average finish; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 824) in the Capital City 400.

Juan Pablo Montoya: Defending event pole winner; Has finished in the top 10 in three of his last six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1203) that he finished 11th with at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jeff Burton: Last of 15 top 10s came in this event in 2010 in fourth; 14.8 average finish and one win in 35 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 367) that he was running in the top five with at Phoenix International Raceway up until an engine issue.

Jeff Gordon: Coming off 24th top 10 with a third-place finish; Last of two wins came in the 2000 September race; 14.5 average finish and 1,413 laps led in 38 starts; Fourth-best driver rating in the last 14 races.

Jamie McMurray: 17.0 average finish in four starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Last of three top 10s came in this event in seventh; 23.7 average finish in 18 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1206) that he finished 37th with at Phoenix International Raceway after an engine failure.

Aric Almirola: Making first track start in the Sprint Cup Series; 16.4 average finish in five Nationwide Series starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 804) that he finished 12th with at Phoenix International Raceway.

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

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

This Week's Race: Capital City 400 Richmond International Raceway

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified     Phoenix*
1     Jimmie Johnson     6/1     29th     1st     15th     2nd
Notes: Two-time winner, including last fall, with 8.4 average finish in 11 starts; new chassis this week.

1     Kyle Busch     5/1     23rd     5th     5th     6th
Notes: Won last three spring races; has a track best average finish of 5th in 14 career starts.

2     Clint Bowyer     25/1     4th     6th     23rd     30th
Notes: 2008 winner with 10.5 average finish; was the star of both practices using Phoenix car.

3     Denny Hamlin     6/1     10th     15th     7th     1st
Notes: Two-time fall winner with a second best 7.6 average finish position for the native Virginian.

4     Jimmie Johnson     7/1     6th     11th     27th     4th
Notes: Three-time winner, the last coming in fall of 2008, with 17.6 average finish; using new car.

5     Mark Martin     30/1     1st     13th     1st     9th
Notes: 1990 winner with 17 top-5's and average finish of 12.2; had second best overall practices.

6     Kevin Harvick     9/1     12th     25th     3rd     2nd
Notes: Two-time winner, including last fall, with average finish of 11.5; using runner-up Phoenix chassis.

7     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     20/1     15th     1st     10th     14th
Notes: Three-time winner, the last coming in 2006, with an average finish of 14.4; using Phoenix chassis.

8     Martin Truex Jr.     30/1     11th     20th     8th     7th
Notes: Best finish of fifth came in 2008, but is currently in great form had great average practice speeds.

9     Jeff Gordon     8/1     14th     4th     6th     8th
Notes: Two-time winner, last coming in 2000, with average finish of 14.5 that includes 24 top-10's.

10     Brad Keselowski     12/1     8th     12th     16th     5th
Notes: Ran more practice laps than anyone in both sessions with fast 10 consecutive lap averages.

* Results from the Phoenix Cup race held March 4, 2012, a track that translates well to Richmond because of its similar banking and size.

Note: Practice 1 was a two-hour session that offered the most valuable data of the two practices.

Betting Notes

This race should probably come down to Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch again, just as it did last spring when they finished 1-2. They weren't necessarily the stars of practice, but Kyle Busch showed enough on longer runs to suggest he'll be back up to his usual Richmond self and Hamlin has all that winning information from Phoenix, a track that translates very well to Richmond.

The stars of Friday's practices were Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and to a degree, Brad Keselowski, all of whom are worth taking a shot at with some of the high prices offered between them. Bowyer not only has a great history at the track, but looked to be the star in practice. Same goes for Martin who goes for his first win at Richmond since 1990, yes, over two decades ago.

Keselowski's team found all kinds of good stuff in practice as they were fast in single laps, average times and 10-consecutive lap averages while running the most laps. If I had to pick one driver to knock off the Gibbs duo, it probably would be the No. 2 car.

Matchup of the Week:
Brad Keselowski +110 vs. Kasey Kahne

For all the reasons above, I like Keselowski in this match-up, on top of his great Phoenix run. It gets even better if getting plus-money.

You never want to bet against Jimmie Johnson, but over the years he's been kind of feast or famine here which is why he has such a high average finish at Richmond. He'll be matched up against several top tier drivers that might present some value.

I also find it hard to back Greg Biffle here even though he's on a career run. He hasn't finished inside the top-10 since 2006 and just by the law of averages, a bad luck race always hit's the points leader at some juncture and Richmond seems like the ideal spot for him to experience his.

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Re: Richmond 400 Betting News and Notes

Richmond 400 Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle
Covers.com

It’s a short track Saturday night this weekend as NASCAR heads to Virginia for 400 laps at the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway.

This week is all about momentum. Denny Hamlin won for the second time this season at Kansas Speedway last Sunday and has a pair of Richmond victories on his resume. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver hails from nearby Chesterfield and coming to his home track is always special. Winning, however, makes the trip even sweeter. Hamlin is so looking forward to coming home that he plans on arriving early.

"We have our big Short Track Showdown coming up on Thursday, so we've got a lot of planning,” Hamlin told reporters. “I obviously need to go to Richmond early to get some stuff done and schmooze some of our sponsors for that race for a few days. We're excited. I love going to Richmond anyway, but any time you can go after winning the previous week, it makes it a little more exciting.”

One driver who has had very little reason to celebrate so far this season is Hamlin’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Busch ranks 13th in the standings - 31 points out of the Top 10. His last victory came at Michigan International Speedway last August - 20 starts ago. But Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond and is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart for most wins among active drivers at the track. Busch could kick start his season with a win and get right back into the thick of the championship battle.

“We haven’t had the runs that we are looking for quite yet,” Busch told the media. “I’ve been missing a little bit of comfort in our cars this year, but I feel like we’re slowly gaining it back. I look for a certain feel in the car and we just haven’t quite hit on it, yet. We’ve kept working at making that better. We’ve been working hard at gaining some spots in the points. We’ve got some really good racetracks for us coming up with places like Richmond this weekend.”

Hendrick Motorsports continues to search for that, so far, elusive 200th win. The team has had some bright moments this season, but hasn’t visited Victory Lane since last fall, 14 races ago. Two of their four drivers have been leading the way this season.

Jimmie Johnson swept both Richmond races in 2007 and finished third in Kansas last Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr., a three-time Richmond winner (most recently in spring 2006), is riding a four-race Top-10 streak.

You might think that Johnson would come out as my favorite, being the most recent Hendrick winner here. However, Earnhardt Jr. will take over that role this week and there’s a feeling that he could steal the show and win for the first time since 2008 Saturday night.

Head-to-head

Clint Bowyer vs. Kevin Harvick: This week’s primetime matchup features two former teammates at Richard Childress Racing. Bowyer has a win here, Harvick has two with the most recent coming last fall. Harvick has the higher driver rating but Bowyer, in his new ride at Michael Waltrip Racing, has shown some strength this season. Harvick has yet to find his way. Look for Bowyer to prevail in this matchup.

Ryan Newman vs. Greg Biffle: It’s a battle of Chevy versus Ford as Stewart-Haas Racing’s Newman goes up against Roush Racing’s Biffle. Both have wins this season with Newman’s coming at Martinsville, the last short track the series raced on. That might give Newman an edge but Biffle has been leading the point standings and will do whatever it takes to stay there. Look for Biffle to finish in front of Newman Saturday night.

Bottom line

Sixty-three of 111 races have been won from the Top-5 starting positions, including 22 from the pole. The last driver to win from the pole was Kyle Busch in 2010. The furthest back in the field a race winner has started was 31st, by Clint Bowyer in the 2008 spring race.

Picks

Denny Hamlin (+600)
Kyle Busch (+600)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (+1,800)

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