Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Pocono
VegasInsider.com

Pocono Raceway Data

Race #: 14 of 36 (06-10-12)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 200 laps / 500 miles
Banking/Turn 1: 14 degrees
Banking/Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking/Turn 3: 6 degrees
Frontstretch: 3,740 feet
Backstretch: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch: 1,780 feet

Top 12 Driver Rating at Pocono

Denny Hamlin 118.6
Jimmie Johnson 107.0
Kurt Busch 105.8
Jeff Gordon 100.8
Tony Stewart 99.5
Carl Edwards 98.4
Ryan Newman 94.8
Mark Martin 93.2
Kevin Harvick 91.4
Kasey Kahne 89.5
Jeff Burton 89.2
Kyle Busch 87.6

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (seven total) at Pocono.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Kurt Busch, (171.579 mph, 52.454 seconds)
2011 race winner: Matt Kenseth, (125.578 mph, 05-15-11)
Track qualifying record: Kasey Kahne, (172.533 mph, 52.164 seconds, 06-11-04)
Track race record: Jeff Gordon, (145.384 mph, 06-12-11)

Driver Ratings for Winners

Driver/Year (Driver Rating-Series Driver Rating Rank)
Jeff Gordon/2011 (98.8-5th)
Denny Hamlin/2010 (115.9-1st)
Tony Stewart/2009 (102.4-3rd)
Kasey Kahne/2008 (74.2-20th)
Jeff Gordon/2007 (88.0-13th)
Denny Hamlin/2006 (None/1st start-NA)

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

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Driver Highlights - Pocono
VegasInsider.com

Jeff Burton (No. 31 RCR Chevrolet)

Seven top fives, 17 top 10s
Average finish of 16.1
Average Running Position of 13.9, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 89.2, 11th-best
66 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
1,165 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.614 mph, 13th-fastest
1,751 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most
544 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most

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

Four top fives, five top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 17.4
Average Running Position of 14.8, 12th-best
Driver Rating of 87.6, 12th-best
1,121 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
1,721 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), 10th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Kellogg's Ford)

Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish of 13.8
Driver Rating of 98.4, sixth-best
168 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.903 mph, fifth-fastest
1,701 Laps in the Top 15 (62.7%), 12th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

Five wins, 17 top fives, 27 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 10.2
Average Running Position of 10.1, third-best
Driver Rating of 100.8, fourth-best
95 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
1,108 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.996 mph, fourth-fastest
2,063 Laps in the Top 15 (76.0%), second-most
610 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)

Four wins, seven top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 9.7
Series-best Average Running Position of 8.3
Series-best Driver Rating of 118.6
Series-high 409 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 159.622 mph
1,953 Laps in the Top 15 (84.5%), sixth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet)

Five top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 14.0
Average Running Position of 13.9, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 91.4, ninth-best
Series-high 1,234 Green Flag Passes
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.631 mph, 10th-fastest
1,724 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), ninth-most
599 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / KOBALT Tools Chevrolet)

Two wins, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 9.0
Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best
Driver Rating of 107.0, second-best
206 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 159.230 mph, second-fastest
Series-high 2,194 Laps in the Top 15 (80.8%)
642 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)

One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 17.0
Average Running Position of 14.4, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 89.5, 10th-best
161 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
1,186 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.714 mph, eighth-fastest
1,639 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), 13th-most
556 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)

Three top fives, nine top 10s
Average finish of 14.2
Average Running Position of 14.1, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 87.3, 13th-best
1,112 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.626 mph, 12th-fastest
588 Quality Passes, sixth-most

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

19 top fives, 33 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 11.2
Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 93.2, eighth-best
79 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.870 mph, seventh-fastest
1,900 Laps in the Top 15 (70.0%), seventh-most
535 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Ryan Newman (No. 39 HAAS Automation Chevrolet)

One win, seven top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 12.7
Average Running Position of 11.3, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 94.8, seventh-best
1,110 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.653 mph, ninth-fastest
2,046 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), third-most
Series-high 657 Quality Passes

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

Two wins, nine top fives, 18 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 11.8
Average Running Position of 11.9, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 99.5, fifth-best
80 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
1,188 Green Flag Passes, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 158.882 mph, sixth-fastest
1,977 Laps in the Top 15 (72.8%), fifth-most
617 Quality Passes, third-most

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Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Pocono 400
NASCAR.com

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON THE TESTS AT MICHIGAN AND POCONO: “I talked to Matt Kenseth. He was at the test and Jeff Gordon was there (Michigan), too. There are different ways that we describe things and the expression that both Jeff and Matt had on their faces when they described the speed at Michigan; I know it’s going to be exciting. So, I’m looking forward to the test. Testing will be helpful for all the teams. And then we’ll see what it does. And it’s just going to be blistering fast. I’ll know more when I get there. I want to make sure I have plenty of coffee to be awake when I get on track (laughs).

“The speeds and the shapes of the tracks are different, of course. But any more, the airflow over the car is where we find the bulk of our grip. So the fact that the speeds at Pocono are very high and the same with the speeds at Michigan, there will be some things that cross over (between the two tracks). So, we will leave the Pocono test and race, and go to Michigan and, actually, it will probably be closer than it would if we came from a short track because the speeds in the way you set the car up due to the aerodynamics would be the same.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 681 serves as the primary for Johnson at Pocono. This is the same chassis Johnson used to win at Darlington last month and Kansas last October. This will be the seventh start for chassis No. 681. In the previous six races Johnson has led at least one lap with the car. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-655 has just two starts to its credit – last season’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and the Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway earlier this season. At Charlotte last spring, Newman was making a run for the top-10 when he got tangled in a multi-car melee on lap 303. The accident forced Newman to take his No. 39 to the garage for extensive repairs. He returned to the track more than 40 laps down and finished the race 31st. After the incident at Charlotte, the car underwent extensive work and updates in the shop before making its 2012 debut at Bristol, which resulted in a 12th-place finish.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 1 Banana Boat team will bring Chassis #1106 to Pocono Raceway this weekend. This chassis has made two race appearances this season, the first at Bristol with a seventh-place finish and the second appearance at the Sprint Showdown, resulting in a third-place finish. This chassis was also brought to the Pocono test. This chassis was used in 2011 at Texas in November, Dover in October, Michigan (June and August), and Charlotte (Coke 600, and All-Star).

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1108 to Pocono Raceway this weekend. This is the first time this chassis will be on-track in the 2012 season. This chassis raced at both Michigan International Speedway events in 2011, finishing 28th and 30th.

KEVIN HARVICK ON POCONO: “I haven’t been there since they repaved it, but obviously it’s going to be really fast and I think they have put a lot of effort into making the race track safer with the barriers all around the track. Just to see that type of effort from the race track and the commitment they have for the sport is pretty cool. There is going to be a lot to learn over the first couple of days of testing, and as we go into the third day of practice hopefully we will have it figured out on the Rheem Chevrolet.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 374 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, Harvick utilized this chassis at Auto Club Speedway in March and Darlington Raceway in May finishing fourth and 16th, respectively.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 384 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was built new for 2012 competition and was last seen on track at Auto Club Speedway in March where Menard finished 19thafter starting from the 27th position in the rain-shortened Auto Club 400.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 385 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet, built new for the 2012 season, was utilized twice this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March (started-22nd, finished-14th) and Texas Motor Speedway in April (started-24th, finished-29th).

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 733 is a new chassis racing for the first time at Pocono Raceway. Chassis No. 721 is the backup and previously served backup duty at Las Vegas, California, Texas, Kansas, Darlington, All-Star and Charlotte but never raced.

MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary – Chassis 720 – This chassis raced at Kansas and Las Vegas. Backup – Chassis 726 has raced at Fontana and Darlington.

CARL EDWARDS ON POCONO: “My heart rate is going up just thinking about how fast it is going to be at Pocono this week. The new pavement has the potential to make this one of the highest-speed tracks that we go to. It was already a fast track. I have yet to be on the surface, so I am very anxious to see how it drives. I think the fact that the surface is new, no one really knows what will work and what won’t. I think it could shake up the race and make it a real interesting one. We have gone there before and run really well on the old surface, so hopefully we can turn that into a good run this weekend, because we need it. Last weekend we had a good car that could compete for the win and we had some bad luck. Now we are on the outside looking in, so it’s time to go.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will be unloading chassis RK-815 this weekend. This car was new at Darlington where Edwards finished seventh.

GREG BIFFLE ON POCONO: “I’m nervous heading to Pocono because I have no idea what to expect. We have a day and a half of testing, which is good, but I have no idea how fast it will be, or how different it will drive through the corners. I’m excited it was repaved and also think that the race being shortened to 400 miles will create some excitement with the fans. There will be more urgency to go and different strategy during the race. I’m pretty anxious to get there and get on the track.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-777 Last ran Kansas – finished fifth; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

MATT KENSETH ON POCONO: “I don’t know a lot about Pocono since they repaved it, but since we have to be there for testing next week, I think by the time we do the test, we’ll have a good idea of what you need and a good plan going into Friday and getting ready for the weekend. It is a bit of an unknown right now, and until we get on the track, having not been on that surface yet with a tire on that new surface it is hard to predict how much tires are going to make a difference compared to track position and all those variables. I would assume with it being a new paved track that we’ll have a fairly hard tire and be more focused on track position and fuel mileage than on tires. Again, we haven’t been on the track yet so it is hard to predict all that right now.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-810 (last run at Texas)

ARIC ALMIROLA ON POCONO: “This is going to be a busy week. We’ve got a bunch of test time at Pocono to try out the new surface – which is going to be a big benefit for me because I’ve never raced at Pocono in a Cup car. So it’ll be good to get out there and run a bunch of extra laps both for myself as a driver and for the team because, obviously, any priornotebook that the team had from before isn’t going to account for the new pavement.

ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The team has prepared chassis No. 742 for the Pocono race. Almirola drove this car to a 19th-place finish earlier this season at Darlington Raceway.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 805 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race atPocono Raceway. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season at Richmond and Phoenix.

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Pocono 400 Storylines
NASCAR.com

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes this weekend’s visit to the “new” Pocono Raceway – repaved after last year’s August event and its two races shortened from 500 to 400 miles for the first time. Two days of testing – Wednesday and Thursday – precede the normal weekend schedule leading to Sunday’s Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR.

A snake-bit Jeff Gordon knows where the future lies – at least in 2012 – as he stands 21st in NASCAR Sprint Cup points halfway to the Chase cut down. “We need wins,” said Gordon concluding that must claim one of two “wild card” berths to qualify for this year’s postseason. He’s the defending winner of the Pocono 400.

Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth stand a single point apart at the top of the standings. But another epic struggle is building at the tail end of the top 10 where five drivers ranked eighth through 12th hope to either hold serve and move up in the rankings.

TNT begins its six-race Summer Series beginning with Sunday’s Pocono 400 marking the 30th year that Turner Sports has covered the series.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series takes a breather and a necessary one perhaps as a daunting, 16-week run of events begins June 16 at Michigan International Speedway. Elliott Sadler has retaken the points lead by 12 over previous pacesetter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon is 14 points behind Richard Childress Racing teammate Sadler in third place.

Dover winner Todd Bodine bids for a record-extending seventh NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, the first of two stops at the 1.5-mile track. Justin Lofton continues to top the points standings by a point over Timothy Peters. Bodine, Brendan Gaughan and defending WinStar World Casino 400 winner Ron Hornaday Jr. have won 13 of 28 races held at the Ft. Worth track.

Wild Card Aspirants Beware

No doubt about it, Jeff Gordon is the most dangerous 21st-place competitor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – this year and perhaps ever. Gordon is one point out of 20th place, a boost he needs to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ as one of two “wild card” qualifiers. Gordon has suffered a career-worst bout of bad luck through the season’s first half absent which he could be solidly in the top 10 with multiple victories. He’s led nine of the 13 races including 60 at Dover International Raceway where a possible victory was nullified by a loose wheel and subsequent green flag pit stop.

“It’s always more frustrating when you’ve got a car that can win; and you show it by going up there and taking the lead,” said the four-time champion and winner of 85 career races, third overall and first among active drivers. “We don’t care about finishing top 15 or top 10 right now. That does nothing for us. We need wins.” Gordon is the defending winner of Sunday’s race. He and Bill Elliott are the track’s most prolific winners with five apiece.

Notebooks Down; Pocono’s Been Repaved

Sunday’s Pocono 400 (TNT, live 1 p.m. ET) marks the first test of a complete repaving of the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle,” which took place immediately following last year’s August race at the Pennsylvania layout. The race, at 400 miles, is the first scheduled at less than 500 miles since the track joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit in 1974. The first of two races is the 69th in Pocono Raceway history. Most teams will log more than the race’s 160 scheduled laps during two days of testing that begins Wednesday and normal practice and qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday.

New Point Leader Could Emerge This Week

With just a single point separating Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, the standings leader’s 11-week reign at the top could end in the Pocono Mountains. Biffle, however, has victory at Pocono. Kenseth, who finished a solid third to Biffle’s 11th at Dover, has not.

The real action, however, is at the tail end of the top 10 – think Chase qualifying – as the regular season begins its second half in the run up to cut-down night at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 8. Just 17 points is the spread between eighth-place Tony Stewart and 12th-ranked Carl Edwards. Current “wild card” qualifiers would be August Pocono winner Brad Keselowski (11th, two wins) and Ryan Newman (13th, one win). Newman’s grip is tenuous: Coca-Cola 600 winner Kasey Kahne is just one point back in 14th.

Floodgates Continue Wide Open For Hendrick Motorsports

Jimmie Johnson’s Dover victory, his second in three points races with a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race win thrown in for good measure, has the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage area abuzz along with the late spring resurgence of Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey Kahne won the Coca-Cola 600 and is steaming full-speed ahead toward a possible Chase berth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is enjoying his most consistent season ever in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet. Junior ranks third in the points standings with a series-high 10 top-10 finish. He’s also the only driver to have completed all 4,288 laps contested.

Hamlin Hopes New Surface Fits His Game

Denny Hamlin, like Gordon, is a four-time Pocono winner sweeping both races in 2006 and fashioning back-to-back victories in 2009-10. He owns the second-best average finish (9.7) to Johnson’s 9.0. Nine Pocono winners are expected to compete in Sunday’s race. Three-time winner Tony Stewart, who’s finished 24th or worse in three of his past four starts, is one driver hoping to regain momentum. Carl Edwards, winner of the 2005 Pocono 500, dropped out of the top 10 after finishing 26th at Dover.

TNT Begins Early Summer Sprint Cup Run

The green flag drops on the TNT NASCAR Summer Series this weekend as Turner Sports begins its 30th year of NASCAR coverage. Pre-race coverage begins at noon EDT. TNT’s schedule encompasses the next six races and includes the return of TNT’s lead broadcast team of Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach.

Pocono Weekend Unveils Enhanced Twitter Experience For NASCAR Fans

Built to support the live race broadcast, a new Twitter experience will give fans a complementary insider’s view of the action as it unfolds on the track and on Twitter. During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, search for #NASCAR on Twitter.com or visit twitter.com/#NASCAR, they’ll reach a new Twitter experience where they will see the most relevant tweets from their favorite NASCAR drivers, NASCAR families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities.

NASCAR is the first organization to team with Twitter to create an enhanced live event experience on the Twitter platform.

Pocono Scenery Isn’t The Area’s Only Green Space

Pocono is the world’s largest green sports facility. In July 2010, Pocono installed a 3-MW solar farm to power all the track’s energy needs and support the local energy grid. With 40,000 solar panels on 25 acres of land next to the track,the Pocono solar project is the biggest renewable energy stadium project in the world by more than two times. The track’s solar panel system is the track’s primary electric energy source while also benefitting the local power grid by powering more than 250 homes (and lowering CO2 emissions by 2,370 metric tons annually).

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Re: Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

Pocono 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races, as well as the non-points All-Star race for a $1 million prize. There is nobody hotter right now than Johnson which is why the LVH Superbook has him listed as the overwhelming 3/1 favorite to win the Sprint Championship despite being fifth in points. The closest driver to Johnson in odds is Tony Stewart at 7/1 with current points leader Greg Biffle still sitting at a very large 10/1 clip.

We are at the halfway mark in the Race to the Chase with 13 races to go until it becomes determined what 12 drivers will make NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. One driver that has a long ways to go if he plans on making it is Jeff Gordon, who is currently sitting in 21st position. He‘s at the point now where the only way he can get in the 10-race “Chase for the Championship” is by winning races.

The final two positions in the Chase are awarded to drivers within the Top-20 who have the most wins. Brad Keselowski currently has the 11th position occupied on the basis of his two wins while Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne each have one win. So essentially, Gordon would have to win at least two races in the next 13 to get a win if the standings were to remain in relatively the same order.

It seems like an impossible task for Gordon with the way his season has gone thus far. Despite having good cars on a weekly basis, Gordon has routinely been snake bit with issues that never seemed to occur so often to the four-time champion. Last week at Dover was the perfect example of how Gordon’s season has been going. He not only had a good car again, he had the best car on the track, and even better than Johnson.

"I'm tired of the same old thing when we've got the best car out there," Gordon said following Sunday's race. "I know we had the best car. It's not every day you run the 48 down and pass him."

In 13 races this season Gordon has only one Top-5 finish, but he should be able to add to that total this week at Pocono, a place he won at last season which was the fifth of his career -- tied for the most all-time in Pocono history. He’s currently on a run with two straight solid performances and should be considered one of the drivers to beat.

Another example of Gordon’s performances not telling the whole story is just by looking at his weekly odds. For a driver that hadn’t won at Dover in 11 years and was finishing poorly week after week, Gordon could only be found at 10/1 odds on race day, which means the sports books still respect Gordon and feel he‘s close to winning soon.

Although it‘s tough to bet a driver like Gordon to win, this week at Pocono looks like a great opportunity to finally cash in. Aside from his statistical short comings this season, the bigger picture here is his association with Hendrick Motorsports, a team that has won the last three Cup races between Johnson and Kahne. They also have Dale Earnhardt Jr. running for the championship sitting in third-place, two slots ahead of Johnson.

One of the elements Gordon will have to deal with this week besides Johnson and the tricky 2.5-mile triangular track is a new surface, which means one of the fastest tracks with the longest straightaway is going to be even faster.

"No matter what, we’ll face similar challenges (at Pocono) just because the shape and the banking of the turns haven’t changed,” said Gordon. “The grip level and the smoothness of the track will determine how aggressive we can be getting the car ‘sealed’ down to the race track.”

Another challenge Gordon and the 42 others drivers will have to adjust to this week is the strategy played into running only 400 miles. Sunday will mark the first time that a Pocono race hasn't been 500 miles and Gordon thinks the race will be better because of it.

“I think a shorter race at Pocono is going to be a better race and a more exciting race,” said Gordon. “We’ll have fewer laps, so I don’t know how that will change strategy for the race.”

The drivers Gordon will have to pass to get the win begin with Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

As if Johnson didn't already have the luxury of riding a hot streak into a track where he's averaged a 9th-place finish over his career, he also comes in with a chassis that has won a couple of trophies. The car Johnson is using this week won at Darlington last month and also took the checkers in Kansas last fall. In six starts this car has led at least one lap on each occasion. The only trend going against Johnson -- and it's hard to find one -- is that he hasn't won at Pocono since 2004. However, he did sweep the season.

A driver who knows something about sweeping the season at Pocono is Hamlin, who did it as a rookie in 2006. Hamlin won again in 2009 and 2010 giving him an amazing four wins in only 12 starts. Compare that to Gordon's track record of five wins in 38 starts and it shows just how impressive Hamlin's credentials are at Pocono. He may not be the reigning champion of the race, but everyone in the garage knows who the “King of Pocono” is.

Hamlin struggled last year at Pocono, or at least compared to the standards he set for himself, but he also struggled everywhere in kind of a hangover season. This year things look a little different as he sits fourth in points and has already won twice through 13 races.

Keselowski powered his Penske Dodge to a win last fall at Pocono and should be contending again on Sunday. Kurt Busch fared very well while with Penske which should also make A.J. Allmendinger a quality longshot to look at this week.

Because of the new surface at Pocono, NASCAR has mandated a test session scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday which should give them all plenty of quality notes to sort through by the time Friday's practice begins. Because of all the extra time on the track, the Friday practices should be very telling to who is dialed in the most on the new surface.

With 100 miles less, there is less time for teams to make in-race adjustments on their cars so it benefits those who have it all figured out on Friday and are ready to be fast when the green flag drops.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (10/1)
2) #2 Brad Keselowski (15/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
4) #11 Denny Hamlin (5/1)
5) #18 Kyle Busch (8/1)

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Re: Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Pocono
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR at Pocono Raceway.

Who's HOT at Pocono

• Jeff Gordon, who leads all drivers with 957 laps led, scored his fifth win in this event last year.
• Four-time winner Denny Hamlin is second in laps led with 639.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers with 33 top-10 finishes.
• Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch each have finished in the top five in three of their last four starts.
• Two-time winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with a 9.0 average finish.
• Tony Stewart has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last 10 starts, including a win in this event in 2009.

Keep an Eye On at Pocono

• Kasey Kahne (1st), Jamie McMurray (2nd), Paul Menard (5th), Ryan Newman (6th), AJ Allmendinger (7th), Jeff Burton (9th) were among the top 10 in fastest speeds posted in the two-day test session at Pocono.
• Series points leader Greg Biffle has a win and an eighth-place finish in two of his last three Pocono starts.
• Brad Keselowski is coming off his first win at Pocono.
• Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Kahne, Joey Logano and McMurray participated in the Pocono Goodyear Tire Test in April.
• Carl Edwards has posted five top 10s in his last eight Pocono starts, including a win in 2008.
• Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer have posted respective average finishes of 6.6 and 8.4 in the last five races of the season.
• Martin Truex Jr., who was 11th fastest in testing, has posted a 10.3 average finish in his last three Pocono starts.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kasey Kahne
Pete Pistone: Denny Hamlin
Ricky Hamber: Ryan Newman
John Singler: Jeff Gordon

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Greg Biffle: Winner of the 2010 August race; Coming off fourth top 10 in 18 starts with an eighth-place finish.

Matt Kenseth: Eighth-place finish last year in this event is only top 10 in last seven races; 14.2 average finish and 39 laps led in 24 starts; Tied for the ninth-best average finish (12.7) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 810) that he finished fifth with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Finished in the top 10 in both events last season; Only other top 10 in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports came in this event in 2008 in fourth; One lap led with Hendrick; Posted two runner-up finishes with Dale Earnhardt Inc; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 726) in the Pocono 400.

Denny Hamlin: Last of four wins came in this event in 2010; 9.7 average finish and 639 laps led in 12 starts; Sixth-best average finish (11.4) in the last 10 races; Eighth fastest in the two days of testing.

Jimmie Johnson: Swept both races in 2004; Has finished in the top 10 in last four starts; Third-best average finish (9.9) in the last 10 races; 9.0 average finish and 518 laps led in 20 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 681) that he won with at Darlington Raceway last month.

Martin Truex Jr: 14.0 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Last of four top 10s came in this event last year in 10th.

Kevin Harvick: Fifth-place finish in this event last year was the last in a streak of three consecutive top fives; Fifth-best average finish (10.8) in the last 10 races; Has only led five laps in 22 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 374) that he most recently finished 16th with at Darlington Raceway; 10th fastest in the two days of testing.

Tony Stewart: Last of two wins came in this event in 2009; 8.0 average finish in six starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Second-best average finish (9.6) in the last 10 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 722) in the Pocono 400.

Kyle Busch:
2.5 average finish in his last two starts; Three finishes of third or better in eight starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Has combined to lead 61 laps in his last four starts.

Clint Bowyer: Last of five top 10s came in this event in 2010 in ninth after leading 59 laps; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing driving a new car (chassis No. 733) in the Pocono 400.

Brad Keselowski: Coming off first win for his first finish inside the top 20 in four starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 818) that he finished ninth with at Martinsville Speedway in April.

Carl Edwards: Last of two wins came in the 2008 August race; Coming off seventh top 10 in 14 starts; Seventh-best average finish (12.4) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 815) that he finished seventh with at Darlington Raceway.

Ryan Newman: Finished in the top 10 in both races last season; 9.8 average finish in six starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Won the 2003 July race with Penske Racing; Fourth-best average finish (10.0) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 686) that he most recently finished 10th with in the All-Star Race; Sixth fastest in the two days of testing.

Kasey Kahne: Won this event in 2008 with Gillett Evernham Motorsports; 17.0 average finish in 16 starts; Will make first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in a new car (chassis No. 729); Posted the fastest speed in the two days of testing.

Paul Menard: Coming off first top 10 in 10 starts; 12.0 average finish in two starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 384) that he finished 19th with at Auto Club Speedway; Fifth fastest in the two days of testing.

Joey Logano: 11th-place finish in this event last year is best in six starts; 20.8 average finish; Won the pole and led 44 laps last August.

Aric Almirola: Will make first Sprint Cup track start driving the same car (chassis No. 742) that he finished 19th with at Darlington Raceway.

Jeff Burton: Finished in the top 10 in both events in 2010; 10th-best average finish (13.2) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 385) that he most recently finished 29th with at Texas Motor Speedway; Ninth fastest in the two days of testing.

Marcos Ambrose: 27.2 average finish in six starts; Only top 10 came in this event in 2009 in sixth; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 805) that he most recently finished 22nd with at Richmond International Raceway.

Juan Pablo Montoya: Has finished eighth or better in four of his last six starts; Led 38 laps and finished seventh last year in this event; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1108) that he raced in both events at Michigan International Speedway last season.

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Re: Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

Pocono 400 Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle
Covers.com

The summer stretch for NASCAR begins in earnest this week as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for Sunday’s Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR.

Pocono is a 2.5-mile track unique to any other on the schedule with three distinctly different turns and three straightaways of varying lengths and top speeds.

Sunday, however, there are new challenges to deal with. Pocono’s surface has received a new coat of asphalt - the first since 1995. And for the first time in the track’s history, neither 2012 race will be a 500-miler. Instead, both have been shortened to 400 miles.

The track is holding an open test this week to get ready for Sunday’s race on the new surface and Goodyear Tire engineers expect speeds to be higher than years past.

This week’s favorite is again Jimmie Johnson. The Covers favorite last week delivered, scoring a dominating win at Dover. Now that the fuse seems lit, Johnson is ready to go to the front again Sunday.

Johnson said the repaving shouldn’t be a radical departure from the past because the same kinds of materials were used in both old and new asphalt.

“Normally, it’s an edgy race track regardless of the tire that you come with on a new repave,” said Johnson, whose two Pocono victories came in 2004. “It sounds like we didn’t have that (during the test) and Pocono made sure they used the same mix, the same asphalt that we were racing on.”

“I would imagine that it’s going to be super smooth and really fast,” he added.

Jeff Gordon needs to turn his luck around and Pocono might be the place he does just that. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate has shown moments of competitive fire this season, but has run into terrible luck.

However, Gordon is the defending winner of this race and finished sixth in the August event. He leads all active drivers here with five wins and if Gordon hopes to turn around his season and get back to Victory Lane, Sunday could be his best chance. Wednesday Gordon was one of the first drivers to hit the newly repaved track.

“They did a great job; (the) track was really nice and smooth (with) good grip,” said Gordon. “We have had some repaves where it is a handful and pretty slick. That was not the case at all today.”

Kyle Busch has never won here, but with second and third-place showings here last season, he will look to rebound after being sidelined by mechanical issues last Sunday. With the kind of strong season he’s having, Busch could spoil the Hendrick party and score his first career win at Pocono Sunday.

Johnson was third fastest during the first test session Wednesday, Busch was ninth and Gordon eleventh.

Head–to-head

Denny Hamlin vs. Greg Biffle: Both drivers are recent winners at Pocono. Biffle won in August of 2010, while Hamlin swept both races in August 2009 and June 2010. Hamlin also swept the races in 2006, giving him four wins overall. He also has the highest driver rating among all active drivers. You might think that would give him the edge to take it all, but in the last few races here, Hamlin has struggled while Biffle comes into Pocono wanting to protect his points lead. Look for Biffle to prevail in this matchup.

Tony Stewart vs. Brad Keselowski: Stewart has two wins here, the last coming in July 2009. Keselowski scored his lone Pocono victory the last time the series visited here in August. Both have struggled at times the season, but Stewart has been able to put together more solid finishes. Look for Smoke to come out ahead of Keselowski Sunday.

Bottom Line

Thirteen of the 68 races have been won from the pole, Bill Elliott (1985, 2002) and Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) are the only drivers to have done it twice. Tony Stewart is the most recent driver to win from the pole in 2009. Forty-seven of the 68 Pocono races have been won from a Top-10 starting position. The June 2005 race was won by Carl Edwards from the 29th starting position - the deepest in the field that a race winner has started.

Picks

Jimmie Johnson (+484)
Jeff Gordon (+825)
Kyle Busch (+950)

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Re: Pocono 400 Betting News and Notes

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

Practice Notes - Pocono

Rating     Driver     Odds     Testing*     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified
1     Jimmie Johnson     4/1     3rd     4th     21st     24th
Notes: Two-time winner; best 10-consecutive lap average in practice 2; using winning Darlington chassis.

2     Mark Martin     40/1     1st     1st     20th     6th
Notes: Six-time runner-up with no wins in 50 starts; the most outstanding in test and practice sessions.

3     Denny Hamlin     4/1     5th     9th     18th     5th
Notes: Four-time winner with 9.7 average finish; one of the fastest average speeds in final practice.

4     Kasey Kahne     15/1     1st     7th     6th     10th
Notes: 2008 winner; top average speeds in final practice; using new chassis this week.

5     Jeff Gordon     8/1     4th     15th     3rd     12th
Notes: Five time winner, the last coming in 2011; snake bit on season, but again has a great car.

6     A.J. Allmendinger     50/1     1st     5th     9th     19th
Notes: Best finish of 10th in 2010, but showed in testing he's got a set-up that can capture first career win.

7     Paul Menard     100/1     5th     11th     4th     3rd
Notes: Outstanding test and practice sessions; candidate because of win on similar banking at Brickyard.

8     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     15/1     10th     3rd     23rd     8th
Notes: Finished top-10 in both 2011 races; consistent Hendrick horsepower makes him a contender.

9     Joey Logano     75/1     7th     27th     1st     1st
Notes: 22 past race winners started on front row; start position even more key now with 100 miles less.

10     Kyle Busch     8/1     6th     23rd     5th     4th
Notes: One of only three tracks yet to win on in NASCAR's top divisions; third and runner-up in 2011.

42 drivers tested Pocono's new pavement on Wednesday and Thursday prior to Friday's practice. The rank listed is the best run a driver had in any one of the three sessions.

Betting Notes: I really believe this race will play out kind of like a road race. Not only is the race a 100 miles shorter than we've been accustomed to, but we have also seen fewer cautions than ever this season, or so it seems. Should this race go with long green flag runs that include pit stops, it may be tough for a driver starting in the back half of the field to catch the leaders.

Pocono has traditionally been a track that was already hard to pass at. With 500 miles run in the past, 22 drivers starting on the front row have gone on to win at Pocono. Now with less laps, it makes starting position more important than ever. This is why most of the drivers starting in the top-10 should be considered candidates to win this week.

If you look at a few of the names, you can see that there is a very strong chance at hitting some bombs in the odds department. I like Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin the most based on their average speeds in practice, but drivers like Mark Martin, Paul Menard, A.J. Allmendinger and Joey Logano all present great value and are worth a shot this week.

Johnson may have the best car and is currently on the best roll in NASCAR, but his start position of 24th is major negative. Martin has fooled me a few times this season, but if I was taking one driver based on the testing and practices during the week, Martin would be my choice. It also helps entice me to believe this may be the week he gets a win because his odds were 40-to-1. Should Martin gets his first win after six runner-ups in 50 starts, it would be a pretty amazing scene, perhaps the best of the year.

Matchup of the Week: Kyle Busch -130 vs. Carl Edwards

Kyle has won this matchup in four of the past five Pocono races and is on the best run of career at Pocono with finishes of third or better in three of his past four starts. Edwards car was only fast in qualifying trim and despite starting the race right next to Logano on the front row, Kyle should have a much better car in race conditions.

Of the favorites, if I had to pick one that might finish outside of the top-10 it would be Jeff Gordon. Gordon is favored in most of his matchups, but he's been very reliable through 13 races this year when betting against. Based on his past, his odds are way too high this week against drivers in better form.

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