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Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Charlotte

Charlotte Motor Speedway Data

Race #: 12 of 36 (05-27-12)
Track Size: 1.5 miles
Race Length: 501.322 miles
Banking/Turns: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,980 feet
Backstretch: 1,500 feet

Top 12 Driver Rating at Charlotte

Jimmie Johnson 111.0
Kyle Busch 106.6
Matt Kenseth 95.2
Kasey Kahne 94.8
Joey Logano 93.5
Greg Biffle 89.2
Carl Edwards 88.4
Denny Hamlin 87.5
Mark Martin 87.4
Jeff Gordon 86.9
Jeff Burton 85.4
Tony Stewart 85.0

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

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Brad Keselowski (192.089 mph, 28.112 seconds)
2011 race winner: Kevin Harvick (132.414 mph, 05-29-11)
Track qualifying record: Elliott Sadler (193.216 mph, 27.948 seconds, 10-13-05)
Track race record: Bobby Labonte (151.952 mph, 05-28-95)

Driver Ratings for Winners

Driver - Year (Driver Rating/Series Driver Rating Rank)

Kevin Harvick - 2011 (69.8/23rd)
Kurt Busch - 2010 (81.6/14th)
David Reutimann - 2009 (59.2/31st)
Kasey Kahne - 2008 (97.6/3rd)
Casey Mears - 2007 (77.4/17th)
Kasey Kahne - 2006 (74.1/19th)

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

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Charlotte

Greg Biffle (No. 16 Fastenal Ford)

Three top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 17.8
Average Running Position of 15.4, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 89.2, sixth-best
224 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
1,011 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
Avg Green Flag Speed of 175.562 mph, fourth
2,985 Laps in the Top 15 (60.0%), seventh
535 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most

Jeff Burton (No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet)

Three wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s
Average finish of 15.4
Average Running Position of 15.0, eighth
Driver Rating of 85.4, 11th-best
1,017 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
Avg. Green Flag Speed of 175.259 mph, 13th
2,846 Laps in the Top 15 (57.2%), eighth
539 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet)

One win, five top fives, six top 10s
Average finish of 19.4
Driver Rating of 85.0, 13th-best
173 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
2,676 Laps in the Top 15 (53.8%), 11th-most
473 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Red-White-Blue Toyota)

Six top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 16.7
Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
Driver Rating of 106.6, second-best
385 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
963 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 176.284 mph, second-fastest
3,836 Laps in the Top 15 (77.2%), second-most
696 Quality Passes, second-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

Five top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 12.6
Average Running Position of 15.8, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 88.4, seventh-best
105 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-most
1,061 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
2,778 Laps in the Top 15 (55.9%), ninth-most
508 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)

Five wins, 16 top fives, 20 top 10s; eight poles
Average finish of 15.9
Average Running Position of 16.4, 13th-best
Driver Rating of 86.9, 10th-best
166 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.446 mph, ninth-fastest
2,638 Laps in the Top 15 (53.1%), 12th-most
481 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)

One top five, six top 10
Average finish of 16.0
Average Running Position of 14.1, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 87.5, eighth-best
119 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.261 mph, 12th-fastest
3,049 Laps in the Top 15 (66.7%), fifth-most
510 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet)

Six wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 11.9
Series-best Average Running Position of 8.4
Series-best Driver Rating of 111.0
Series-high 451 Fastest Laps Run
1,015 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 176.429 mph
Series-high 4,201 Laps in the Top 15 (84.5%)
Series-high 714 Quality Passes

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet)

Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 13.4
Average Running Position of 13.4, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 94.8, fourth-best
364 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Series-high 1,141 Green Flag Passes
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.304 mph, 11th-fastest
3,003 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), sixth-most
602 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Fastenal Ford)

Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish of 14.4
Average Running Position of 14.5, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 95.2, third-best
268 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
993 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.512 mph, seventh-fastest
3,225 Laps in the Top 15 (64.9%), third-most
593 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Joey Logano (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

Two top fives, four top 10s
Average finish of 8.2
Average Running Position of 13.0, third-best
Driver Rating of 93.5, fifth-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.503 mph, eighth-fastest

Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron's Armed Forces Foundation Toyota)

Four wins, 18 top fives, 23 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 16.4
Average Running Position of 13.8, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 87.4, ninth-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.524 mph, sixth-fastest
3,205 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), fourth-most
502 Quality Passes, ninth-most

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

One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 13.6
Average Running Position of 15.5, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 85.0, 12th-best
181 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
996 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 175.550 mph, fifth-fastest
2,714 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), 10th-most
495 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Driver Notes & Quotes for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

KURT BUSCH ON THE COCA-COLA 600: “This weekend’s race is a big one and, being that it’s here in our backyard, it’s almost like a hometown race for everybody. All of the guys who work at the shop and don’t get to go to the track on a weekly basis usually get to come out and see all of their hard work on display. You want to really put the banner up for your team. That track has been tough on me over the years but, as of late, I feel like I’ve settled in at Charlotte and I guess you could say the track is talking to me a little bit.”

BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 665 - This weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 will be the third race of the 2012 season for this chassis. This is the same car the No. 51 Phoenix Racing team competed with at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in late April. Busch qualified 14th and competed in the top-five for the majority of the race before an engine problem in the closing laps relegated the team to a 17th-place finish. The chassis was also used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, when Busch earned a season-best starting position of 12th and competed in the top-10 during the early portion of the race. Pit-road issues and an eventual accident resulted in a 35th-place finish. The car was built in 2011 and was used only once last season – the June race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where driver Landon Cassill scored a 12th-place finish after starting 12th.

KEVIN HARVICK ON THE LENGTH OF RACE: “I think (the Coca-Cola 600) is a historic race in our sport. It’s the ultimate test of team, driver, engines and every part on the car. The sport is not all about just running a 250-mile race, it’s about making your car last. It’s more than just having a fast car and lining them up and running a short race. It’s really about the attrition of the whole night and surviving it. As things change through the night you have to keep up with the race track and if your car won’t run then you’re done. NASCAR needs a race like this because those are the types of things the sport was built on.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 373 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was used in competition last season by the No. 29 team at Michigan International Speedway in August, Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and Homestead-Miami Speedway in November where Harvick finished 22nd, sixth and eighth, respectively.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last seen on track at Phoenix International Raceway in March where Menard finished 31st after he was spun from behind. This chassis was also used in competition in 2011 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and the November event at Phoenix.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Burton will race chassis No. 367 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 31 Chevrolet, originally built in 2011, has been utilized once during the 2012 NSCS season at Kansas Speedway in April where Burton started 12th and finished 22nd. This chassis has seen significant track time including visits to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2011 (started-13th, finished-35th), Atlanta Motor Speedway in September 2011 (started-27th, finished-13th) and Kansas Speedway in October 2011 (started-31st, finished-21st). Burton also tallied a top-10 finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, finishing 10th after starting 31st with this car.

MATT KENSETH COCA-COLA THOUGHTS: “Track conditions can change a lot during the 600 since it can start out hot and sunny which makes the track slick, and that can entirely change by the end of the race. It’s always challenging but I really like running that entire 600 miles and continuingly working on strategy and your car’s set-up. Even though it’s our longest race of the season, I’ve always really enjoyed the 600 miles and just the challenge it presents to teams. It’s always nice to race at Charlotte as well since it’s our home base. All three of our Cup cars have Fastenal on board, so hopefully we can once again get a string of top-five finishes for them, similar to last year’s Nationwide race at Charlotte.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-741 (Last run at Kansas)

GREG BIFFLE ON CHARLOTTE: “The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the season and we are back to points racing this weekend so it’s important to finish well. We’ve been running well at Charlotte so I think we’ll definitely have a good run in our No. 16 Fastenal Ford this weekend. Our car was a little off at the All-Star, and obviously we didn’t get much time to work on it, but we’ll get more opportunities this weekend. The 600 is a long, drawn out, strategy-driven race and we’ll have to make it all the way to the end.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-809 Last ran Texas – finished first; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

CARL EDWARDS ON CHARLOTTE: “I’m looking forward to the Coca-Cola 600. We had a fast Ford Fusion at the All-Star race and a night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is always fun. It’s a long race and it’s full of energy from the fans. The track changes a lot, but Bob (Osborne) is good at making the changes needed to keep up with the track. The Roush Fenway cars are fast and it’s a big night for Fastenal. All three of our Sprint Cup cars are running a special Fastenal paint scheme to salute our military for Memorial Day. Fastenal will be there in force and hopefully we can get our first victory there.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The Fastenal Blue Team will be bringing chassis RK-811 to CMS. This car was new at Texas in April where Edwards finished eighth.

MARCOS AMBROSE ON CHARLOTTE: “I love racing at Charlotte. It’s a track that has been good to me lately, and I definitely have some momentum going into this weekend, after having such a good DEWALT Ford in the All-Star Race. Our intermediate track program is really solid, and I have been excelling at tracks like Charlotte, Texas and Vegas the past year, so that’s definitely an encouragement going into this weekend.

“The Coca-Cola 600 is such a prestigious event, and it ranks right up there with a Daytona 500 or Indy win. It’s a race win every driver would like to add to their resume and it’s definitely one I’d like to check off my list. It’s such a unique race being the longest event of the season and starting during the day and finishing under the lights. There is always a lot of extra excitement surrounding Charlotte race weeks because it’s the home of NASCAR. It’s one of the few times I get to bring out all of our family and friends to watch me race, and I’d like nothing more than to get a win on Sunday in front of NASCAR’s hometown crowd.”

AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 735 for this weekend’s NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season at Las Vegas and Texas.

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The team has prepared chassis No. 783 for the Charlotte race. This car ran earlier this season at Texas and Las Vegas.

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT WINNING AT CHARLOTTE WOULD MEAN: “Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s my favorite track, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win (last week’s) Truck Series race and the Nationwide race last spring, so I’m hoping we can add to that this weekend and finally get a Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big with the Red, White, and Blue colors on our M&M’s Camry.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER CHASSIS CHOICE: AJ and crew will be racing their “PRS-825” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 action at Charlotte. This is a brand new car in the No. 22 Penske Racing Team stable of Dodge Chargers. The “PRS-814” chassis will serve as the backup. It is a new Dodge Charger and has yet to make it onto a race track.

NOTE: The McMURRAY and MONTOYA press release this week didn't have their chassis selections listed. They aren't currently on a scale of any degree that would make their chassis info as important as Kyle Busch, who recently had his chassis choice taken away from public knowledge, but it's still disappointing.

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Indy 500 & Coca-Cola 600 Preview
By Micah Roberts

The ultimate weekend for the auto racing enthusiasts is upon us as the three major series have three of their biggest races of the year this Sunday. If you get up early enough, you can start your day by watching the Grand Prix of Monaco live from Monte Carlo. A few hours later, it’s the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 and then triple feature concludes with NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte.

Memorial Day weekend always signifies a time when we reflect upon our soldiers and offer our appreciation for keeping America free. It’s also a time that we can bond with family and tell the tale of war stories from family members that have passed away, but yet keeping the memories alive for the next generation to proudly pass onto their children.

Somewhere intertwined though all those memories, most of us can remember the Indy 500 being on television whether it was on ABC’s Wide World of Sports same day taped coverage or run live as it has since 1986. It didn’t matter that most of us may not have known much about auto racing, but we all certainly knew who Parnelli Jones and Mario Andretti were.

That’s kind of where the Indy 500 is now as the Indy Racing series comes at a cross roads of who they are. The series has the greatest, most renowned race in world, but few people follow the series’ other races opting to spend most of their allotted auto racing viewing time on the weekly NASCAR racing.

Here in Las Vegas only two sports books, the LVH Super Book and MGM Resorts, carry the odds on a weekly basis which kind of tells you about the supply and demand of the series. If bettors were regularly going up to the sports book directors and asking for odds on Indy Racing, odds would be put up, but bettors aren’t.

However, for the Indy 500, every sports book is offering odds and most have had them up for over a month now. The 5-to-2 favorite to win this week is Penske Racing driver Ryan Briscoe who will be starting from the pole on Sunday. Next up is a couple more Penske drivers with Indy points leader Will Power at 5-to-1 odds along with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

The top teams have a huge edge here at Indy just because they have the most funding to be the best prepared throughout testing. Along with Penske Racing, we have Chip Gansasi Racing and Andretti Autosport that figure to be the best this week. Because of using a Honda engine, the Ganassi teams can be shaded down a notch this season leaving us with basically two teams to choose the winner from.

Because we can eliminate at least three-fourths of the field with no legitimate shot at winning, that leaves only a small handful of drivers capable which is why we rarely see a payout as large as we saw last season with the late Dan Wheldon paying out at 12-to-1 odds. It was the largest Indy 500 payout since Kenny Brack won in 1999 at 25-to-1 odds.

This year should be no different from years past, I’ll take a Penske car to win.

The NASCAR race on Sunday will provide a little more variety with drivers that have a possible chance of winning. Of the 43 drivers participating Sunday, a good case could be made for about 24 of them to win which makes things a little more interesting when making a wager.

The Coca-Cola 600 is a long race that also factors in changing elements, in addition to the extra pit stops that have to be made due to the distance compared to other races. Crew chiefs will be working overtime as they try to match their car set-up with the changing temperatures as this race goes from daylight, twilight, dusk, and then closes out at night time.

Everyone got a little taste of what we might see this week from the All-Star race last Saturday won by Jimmie Johnson in a car that was superior to all others. The ideal move would be to bring that same car again this week.

It's surprising that Dale Earnhardt Jr has never won a points paying race in Charlotte over his career. His last top-5 at the track came in 2008, but after watching him run in the Sprint Shootout and All-Star races last week he looks like he might be able to contend for the win.

“I think the (NASCAR Sprint) All-Star Race showed what we are capable of doing for the 600," said Earnhardt Jr. "We are bringing the same car, and we have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster – especially for qualifying – that I hope will work out.”

The Ford drivers got a major scare last week when the engines of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle blew up during the All-Star race. That’s not the type of production these two drivers chasing a championship want to see at a track this week that requires maximum RPM’s for 600 miles.

Carl Edwards said his blown engine was a result of the team being aggressive with down force by taping up too much of the front which had his car at 290 degrees to start the race.

“I had red lights on the dash the whole time,” Edwards said. “We had it taped up too much trying to get too much downforce and we just broke it. We went all-out and it didn’t work. No worries with the engine. That’s the hardest we’ve run one of these engines in a long time. I’ve never seen that water temp and that oil temp in a racecar for that long and have it live, so I’m pretty proud of Doug (Yates) and the guys that it made it as long as it did.”

Teammate Matt Kenseth was able to finish third in the All-Star race with no engine problems and did win the fall Charlotte race last season making him a great candidate to win his first Coca-Cola 600 since his rookie year in 2000.

However, I’m not completely buying into Edwards claim that everything is fine and it was just a matter of being aggressive in a non-points race. The fact that two Roush cars went down with engine failure makes Johnson even more of a favorite this week and has me skeptical on the Roush drivers even though Biffle should be considered one of the favorites.

Johnson’s on a roll having won at Darlington two weeks ago and then getting the $1 million payout last week. He’s a six-time winner at Charlotte and will once again be the driver to beat.

Top-5 Coca-Cola 600 Finish Prediction:

1) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
2) #5 Kasey Kahne (12/1)
3) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr (16/1)
4) #17 Matt Kenseth (8/1)
5) #18 Kyle Busch (10/1)

Top-5 Indy 500 Finish Prediction:

1) #12 Will Power (5/1)
2) #11 Tony Kanaan (12/1)
3) #2 Ryan Briscoe (5/2)
4) #3 Helio Castroneves (5/1)
5) #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (12/1)

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Charlotte
By: Jeff Wackerlin

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600.

Who's HOT at Charlotte

• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with six wins.
• Kyle Busch has finished third or better in three of his last four starts.
• Joey Logano leads all drivers with a 8.2 average finish.
• Defending race winner Kevin Harvick has the best average finish (5.0) in the last three races.
• Three-time winner Kasey Kahne has finished seventh or better in six of his last nine starts.
• Jeff Gordon, a five-time winner, has a 14.2 average finish in his last 10 starts.
• Matt Kenseth, who is coming off his second win, has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts.

Keep an Eye On at Charlotte

• Greg Biffle (3.0), Carl Edwards (7.3), Martin Truex Jr. (8.3), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9.0), Denny Hamlin (11.0) and Jamie McMurray (12.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012.
• Marcos Ambrose has finished sixth or better in his last two starts at Charlotte.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers with 18 top fives at Charlotte.
• Kurt Busch, who will make his first points-paying track start with Phoenix Racing, has finished in the top 10 in three of his last five starts, including a win in the 2010 Coca-Cola 600.
• Tony Stewart is coming off his 12th top 10 at Charlotte. Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Jimmie Johnson
Pete Pistone: Carl Edwards
Ricky Hamber: Matt Kenseth 
John Singler: Kasey Kahne

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Greg Biffle: 17.8 average finish in 18 starts; Best finish came in this event in 2008 in second; Last of six top 10s (fifth) came in the 2010 fall race; Second among all drivers in average finish (3.0) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 809) that he won with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Matt Kenseth: Coming off second win in 25 starts; Winner of the 2000 Coca-Cola 600; Has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts; Third-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Seventh among all drivers in average finish (10.3) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 741) that he finished fourth with Kansas Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: 19.4 average finish in 25 starts; Last of 10 top 10s came in this event last year in seventh; Best finish (fifth) in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports came in this event in 2008; Sixth among all drivers in average finish (9.0) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 668) that he won the Sprint Showdown with last weekend.

Denny Hamlin: Coming off third-straight top 10; Fourth-place finish in the 2010 fall race is lone top five; 16.0 average finish in 13 starts; Eighth among all drivers in average finish (11.0) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012.

Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers with six wins; Last win came in the 2009 fall race; Leads all drivers with a 2.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks this season; Best driver rating in the past 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 714) that he finished second with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr: 21.8 average finish in four starts; Fourth among all drivers in average finish (8.3) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012.

Tony Stewart:
15.5 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Led 84 laps from the pole en route to an eighth-place finish last fall; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 706) that he drove to victory on the rain-shortened race at Auto Club Speedway.

Kevin Harvick:
Defending race winner; Coming off third-straight top 10; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (8.7) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 373) that he finished sixth with last October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch: Leads all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races with a 9.3 average finish; Has finished third or better in three of the last four races; Second-best driver rating in the past 14 races.

Carl Edwards:
Finished third last fall for fifth top five in 14 starts; 12.6 average finish in 14 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (7.3) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 811) that he last finished eighth with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Clint Bowyer: 17.9 average finish in 12 starts; Will make first track points-paying track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the same car (chassis No. 716) that he finished sixth with at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and 36th at Kansas Speedway.

Brad Keselowski: Won the pole and finished 19th in this event last year; 18.8 average finish in five starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 826) in the Coca-Cola 600.

Paul Menard: 23.0 average finish in two starts with Richard Childress Racing; Only top 10 in 10 starts came in this event in 2010 with Richard Petty Motorsports; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he last finished 31st with at Phoenix International Raceway in March.

Ryan Newman: 16.5 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Coming off eighth top 10 in 22 starts; Leads all drivers with nine poles; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 727) in the Coca-Cola 600.

Joey Logano: Leads all drivers with an 8.2 average finish; Has yet to finish worse than 13th in six starts; Fifth among all drivers in driver ratings.

Kasey Kahne: Three-time winner; Coming off eighth top 10 in 16 starts; Ninth among all drivers in average finish (11.3) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Fourth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 724) in the Coca-Cola 600.

Jeff Burton: Last of three wins came in the 2008 October race; 15.4 average finish in 16 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 367) that he finished 22nd with at Kansas Speedway.

Marcos Ambrose: Posted a 5.5 average finish in both races last season; 18.5 average finish in six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 735) that he last finished 20th with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Juan Pablo Montoya: Lone top 10 (eighth) in 10 starts came in this event in 2009; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1205) that he finished 12th with at Kansas Speedway.

Jamie McMurray: Last of two wins came in the 2010 fall race; 16.5 average finish in four starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; 10th among all drivers in average finish (12.0) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1208) that he finished eighth with at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle

It’s NASCAR’s longest race on a day many say is the best for motorsports all year. The Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the ultimate test of endurance for drivers, teams and cars.

And no team seems better prepared to meet that challenge then Hendrick Motorsports and this week’s favorite, Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson has had a magical eight days, which started at Darlington and continued right through last Saturday night’s All-Star race. Johnson staged a dominating performance en route to a $1 million payday.

He also showed the rest of the field that he's the one to beat this weekend. Johnson, who has six career wins at Charlotte, won the Coca-Cola 600 three consecutive years (2003-2005). He’s poised to add win No. 7 Sunday.

“It is a very long race on a tough track,” Johnson told reporters. “It’s not only from the driver’s perspective, but the teams go through a lot to get prepared for that race. Staying alert and focused, properly hydrated all the things that the driver has to go through so do the guys that go over the wall. They change a lot of tires during that race. It’s a very tough event on everyone but I think everybody enjoys it. I know my guys do. I know I do. I love that challenge. I love it especially when you are going to Victory Lane. I hope to do that again.”

Another driver who looked strong last Saturday night was Johnson’s teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt is pumped heading into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, and he should be, for a couple of reasons.

Earnhardt nearly won the race a year ago, coming up a few hundred yards and less than a gallon of fuel short of his first Sprint Cup points victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He coasted across the line out of gas in seventh place. But he’ll carry momentum from a fifth-place finish in the Sprint All-Star Race after winning the Sprint Showdown and has a perfect 150.0 Driver Rating.

"Oh yeah, I mean when you run like this the week before it really makes you feel good. It really makes you look forward to it, not as many unknowns," said Earnhardt. "I think we showed what we are capable of doing here. We are going to bring the same car. We have a couple of ideas on how to make the car even faster, especially for qualifying that I hope will work out."

Don’t’ count out the Fords of Roush-Fenway Racing. Matt Kenseth won here last fall with his teammate Carl Edwards close behind in third. While Edwards has been struggling lately, Kenseth has been competitive nearly all season and could steal the show Sunday night.


Kevin Harvick vs. Kasey Kahne: Harvick won this race last season but still seems to be searching for that magic in 2012. Prior to joining Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne logged three wins at Charlotte, including a season sweep of both events in 2006. While both drivers have run well, look for Harvick to finish ahead of Kahne.

Jeff Gordon vs. Tony Stewart: Gordon has had a run of bad luck this season while Stewart has been hot and cold. Gordon has five wins here, the last coming in 2007. Stewart has a win here but that was back in 2003. But with Gordon’s string of bad luck in 2012, look for Stewart to come out ahead in this matchup.

Bottom line

Fourteen races have been won from the pole, the last by Jimmie Johnson (October, 2009). Johnson also won the 2003 Coca-Cola 600 from the 37th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.


Jimmie Johnson (+550)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (+1,600)
Matt Kenseth (+900)

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Practice Notes
By Micah Roberts

Brad Keselowski continued his strong morning practice session with the fastest lap (183.692 mph) during Charlotte’s final practice session. The conditions for the final session were much hotter than what we’ll see in tomorrow’s Coca-Cola 600, which made some teams a little weary about tinkering with set-ups that ran well in the earlier session.

Three drivers, such as Marcos Ambrose who starts second tomorrow, didn’t even attempt a lap because they felt there was nothing to gain.

Most of the drivers who were fast in the earlier session were again during the final 60-minute practice. Carl Edwards was third earlier in the day and followed that up with the second fastest lap.

Mark Martin was third fastest after being 12th earlier. Martin also had the best average speed among all drivers who ran at least 10 laps. Martin ran 29 laps with little differential in lap speeds compared to the other drivers and it wouldn‘t be a shock to see him get his fifth Charlotte win and first since 2002.

The Michael Waltrip Racing group of Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer should all be considered drivers to run well Sunday night. Truex Jr. finished with the 10th fastest lap, but was spectacular earlier in single lap times and average speeds. Bowyer is using his Las Vegas chassis this week that finished sixth, one of his better runs of the season.

Jimmie Johnson finished with the fourth fastest lap and looks to have the car to beat. He had the fastest 10-consecutive average here after being great earlier in the day. Not only does Johnson have a great Charlotte history, look great in practice -- which haven’t said much this season, but he also momentum in his favor. The cherry on top is that Johnson is using his runner-up Texas chassis.

Tony Stewart ran the third most laps (32) of the session and shot up the field to sixth fastest after being 18th in the earlier practice. Of all the drivers from the final practice, Stewart’s performance might carry the most weight. The car alone should be respected. Stewart’s chassis this week won win at Fontana and is a clone to the winning Las Vegas car.

Showing a big improvement in the final practice was Joey Logano who ran the fifth fastest lap at 182.921 mph. This should be expected just because of how well his teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin ran in the important session. Busch ran only 12 laps and his best was 16th fastest while Hamlin was 20th with the second best 10-consecutive lap average.

The Roush-Fenway drivers all look fine despite the cloud of last weeks engine problems looming above their stable. Kenseth finished seventh and Biffle 15th. All three of the Roush cars look like a real team in their red, white and blue Fastenol colors. Despite nothing spectacular out of Biffle in either of today’s practices, his chassis should garner respect just because it's the same car won at Texas.

Based on a formula that considers Saturday’s early practice as 50% of the equation, Johnson is the driver to beat. The drivers who look to have a best chance to beat him are Keselowski, Truex Jr, Martin and Kyle Busch.

Top-5 Coca-Cola 600 Practice 3 Speeds:

1) Brad Keselowski 183.69
2) Carl Edwards 183.349
3) Mark Martin 183.231
4) Jimmie Johnson 183.231
5) Joey Logano 182.921

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Final 2012 Coca-Cola 600 Driver Ratings Following All Practices
By Micah Roberts

Rating    Driver     Odds         Practice 1     Qualified   Practice 2   Practice 3
1. Jimmie Johnson 5/1             11th              3rd             6th             4th
Six-time winner with 11.9 average finish; best 10-consecutive lap average in final practice.

2. Brad Keselowski 18/1           31st             24th            7th             1st
Career best of 12th in ‘09, but very strong average speeds during practice 2; new car this week.

3. Kyle Busch 7/1                       8th             17th             4th            16th
Ran the most laps in important practice 2; two-time runner-up, eighth or better in 8 of last 9 starts.

4. Martin Truex Jr. 18/1            18th             15th             5th            11th
Career best of seventh in ‘05; best 10-consecutive lap average in practice 2; will win very soon.

5. Tony Stewart 8/1                   24th            21st            18th            6th
2003 fall winner with a 13.6 average; using winning Fontana chassis, a clone to Vegas winner.

6. Mark Martin 40/1                   10th             6th             12th            3rd
Four-time winner, the last coming in 2002; had top average speeds during final practice.

7. Denny Hamlin 10/1                 9th              8th              1st            20th
Career best of fourth-place in ‘10; great practices Saturday suggest he’ll be a contender.

8. Carl Edwards 8/1                  22nd            28th             3rd             2nd
Looking for first career win; has three third-place finishes and 12.6 average; using Texas car.

9. Kevin Harvick 12/1                13th            14th             9th            23rd
Captured first win here last May; using chassis that finished sixth at Charlotte last October.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr 15/1         17th            12th            14th           22nd
No wins in 25 career starts with five top-5 finishes; using stout chassis from All-Star race.

Note: Practice 2 was most important of the three sessions due to it being most similar to cooler race day temperatures.

Betting Notes

Going against Jimmie Johnson in this race is a risky stance to take. He’s got super high marks in everything you want to see out of driver if wagering except for high odds offered at the sports books. By the time the green flag drops, Johnson could be below 3-to-1.

If looking to take a chance anyway, as most of us will, the only thing going in our favor will be that Johnson hasn’t won at Charlotte like he used to and the race is a long 600 miles. That extra 100 miles usually leads to some crazy things happening whether through fuel mileage, irregular pits stops or a team that just finds something that works late better than others.

To go against a giant like Johnson you’ll at least need a couple drivers that have shown in practice that they’ll at least be close to the front near the end of the race. Those drivers include Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr, all of whom have great prices of them that make the holiday weekend a little more enjoyable.

Match-up of the Week: Mark Martin -135 vs. Ryan Newman & A.J. Allmendinger

I like Martin lot in this race and the match-ups against both Newman and Allmendinger appeared to be the easiest. The four drivers mentioned above who have a chance to beat Johnson should all warrant looks in driver matchups against almost anyone.

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