Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Michigan

Michigan International Speedway Data

Race #: 15 of 36 (06-17-12)
Track Size: 2 miles
Race Length: 200 laps / 400 miles
Banking in Corners: 18 degrees
Banking Frontstretch: 12 degrees
Banking Backstretch:5 degrees
Frontstretch: 3,600 feet
Backstretch: 2,242 feet

Top 12 Driver Rating at Michigan

Greg Biffle 106.5
Carl Edwards 106.5
Jimmie Johnson 105.6
Matt Kenseth 104.7
Denny Hamlin 97.1
Tony Stewart 96.8
Jeff Gordon 96.4
Kyle Busch 95.6
Kurt Busch 95.3
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 94.2
Brian Vickers 91.5
Kasey Kahne 88.0

Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (seven total) at Michigan.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Kurt Busch, (188.699 mph, 38.156 seconds)
2011 race winner: Denny Hamlin, (153.029 mph, 2:36:50, 06-19-11)
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, (194.232 mph, 37.069 seconds, 06-18-05)
Track race record: Dale Jarrett, (173.997 mph, 2:17:56, 06-13-99)

Driver Ratings for Winners

Driver/Year (Driver Rating Series-Driver Rating Rank)
Denny Hamlin/2011 (99.1-5th)
Denny Hamlin/2010 (98.4-7th)
Mark Martin/2009 (83.2-13th)
Dale Earnhardt Jr./2008 (98.3-6th)
Carl Edwards/2007 (109.8-3rd)
Kasey Kahne/2006 (82.1-12th)

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

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Michigan

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M / Salute Ford)

Two wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 12.8
Series-best Average Running Position of 8.6
Series-best Driver Rating of 106.5
213 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
980 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 174.286 mph, second-fastest
Series-high 2,306 Laps in the Top 15 (84.2%)
666 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), second-most

Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet)

Two wins, three top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 20.6
Average Running Position of 13.3, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 95.3, ninth-best
133 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.837 mph, seventh-fastest
1,922 Laps in the Top 15 (70.2%), seventh-most
497 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Snickers Toyota)

One win, three top fives, five top 10s
Average finish of 15.5
Average Running Position of 13.2, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 95.6, eighth-best
133 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
964 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.756 mph, 10th-fastest
1,966 Laps in the Top 15 (71.8%), sixth-most
562 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew / The Dark Knight Rises Chevrolet)

One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 15.8
Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 94.2, 10th-best
119 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
1,149 Green Flag Passes, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.759 mph, ninth-fastest
1,785 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2%), ninth-most
610 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

Two wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish of 8.2
Average Running Position of 10.0, second-best
Driver Rating of 106.5, second-best
177 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
976 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 174.259 mph, third-fastest
2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (83.2%), second-most
Series-high 691 Quality Passes

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

Two wins, 18 top fives, 24 top 10s; five poles
Average finish of 11.4
Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 96.4, seventh-best
154 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.853 mph, sixth-fastest
1,887 Laps in the Top 15 (68.9%), eighth-most
529 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)

Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish of 12.1
Average Running Position of 11.8, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 97.1, fifth-best
94 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.832 mph, eighth-fastest
1,685 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), 10th-most
547 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

Three top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 15.2
Average Running Position of 10.0, third-best
Driver Rating of 105.6, third-best
Series-high 282 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 174.357 mph
2,122 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), fourth-most
524 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)

One win, six top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 15.4
Average Running Position of 15.4, 12th-best
Driver Rating of 88.0, 12th-best
115 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
1,063 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.572 mph, 11th-fastest
1,565 Laps in the Top 15 (57.2%), 12th-most
527 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)

Two wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s
Average finish of 9.5
Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 104.7, fourth-best
143 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
979 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 174.160 mph, fourth-fastest
2,183 Laps in the Top 15 (79.7%), third-most
621 Quality Passes, third-most

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

Five wins, 18 top fives, 31 top 10s
Average finish of 13.3
Average Running Position of 15.1, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 85.8, 13th-best
77 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.409 mph, 13th-fastest
1,676 Laps in the Top 15 (61.2%), 11th-most
487 Quality Passes, 12th-most

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

One win, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s
Average finish of 11.5
Average Running Position of 12.4, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 96.8, sixth-best
80 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
1,004 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.874 mph, fifth-fastest
2,032 Laps in the Top 15 (74.2%), fifth-most
586 Quality Passes, fifth-most

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Quicken Loans 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts

If you were amazed at the speeds obtained last week at Pocono with the new repave, then you’ll be blown away this week at Michigan. Thirty-six drivers beat Pocono’s track record during last Saturday’s qualifying with the pole sitter and eventual winner, Joey Logano, breaking the record by 7 mph.

In April, five drivers did a Goodyear tire test on Michigan’s new surface. Although official speeds weren’t kept, all indications are that we’ll be seeing a track record shattered again this week.

“This place is fast. I mean fast, fast,” Juan Pablo Montoya said during the testing. “Our minimum speed this morning was over 180 mph through the corner when you think about it. We are doing easily over 210 mph at the end of the straight."

With speeds like that, don’t be surprised to see NASCAR implement a restrictor-plate by the time they visit Michigan again in August, especially if it is determined that the quality of racing is diminished and safety is compromised. The April session was just a test for tires and not one where crew chiefs were doing everything they could to maximize speed like they will this week.

Since this is an entirely new ball game for most teams we have to down grade past history at Michigan when formulating a strategy to determine who presents the best opportunity to win this week. We can use a lot of what we saw last week at Pocono as a barometer because of the long straightaway there that required lots of horsepower.

We can also figure in two of the faster tracks on the circuit like Texas and Charlotte, but most of all, this weekend’s practice schedule will be the bulk of the equation.

Or you can simply throw everything out the window and take your chances by picking one of the four Hendrick drivers who all can be expected to have one of the fastest cars on the track. The driver that would be easy to gravitate towards is Jimmie Johnson, who has found himself in his patented dominant zone over the last month.

Surprisingly, though, Michigan is one of the few tracks on the circuit that Johnson has never won on. He’s 0-for-20, but he’s been close on several occasions. In 2009, Johnson led 311 of the 400 laps between both races that season and ran out of fuel in both, one of them on the final lap while leading. Last August Johnson was leading with 13 laps to go but fell short as Kyle Busch made the winning pass.

"I've had a few in the bag at Michigan," said Johnson over the weekend. "It's not like I haven't had the speed or been on pace."

Johnson has five wins on Michigan’s sister track at California which is almost identical to Michigan making it odd that the five-time champion wouldn’t have visited the winner’s circle yet, but perhaps the new surface will change his fortune and get Johnson his first win.

Johnson's teammate Jeff Gordon has two wins at Michigan in 38 starts, but the days of comparing Michigan to California may be over because of the repaving.

“They are both two-mile tracks, but there are not a lot of similarities now between the two,” said Gordon who was one of the five drivers that participated in the April test session. “I don’t think because you ran well at California translates to running well here."

In addition to Hendrick Motorsports, the teams that looked very strong in the horsepower department last week were Michael Waltrip’s stable and Joe Gibbs’ fleet of cars.

Mark Martin was strong throughout last week's testing and practice and it carried over to a runner-up finish at Pocono. For whatever it’s worth, Martin has five wins on the old surface of Michigan over his career.

A Toyota has won four of the last five Michigan races with a Joe Gibbs driver taking three of the wins led by Denny Hamlin who won the last two spring races there.

The Jack Roush drivers have traditionally been good Michigan with Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards combining for six wins, but none over the last three seasons. Roush has 11 wins as a car-owner at Michigan which is tied for the track record with the Wood brothers. Kenseth took over the season point lead away from Biffle who slipped all the way to third after leading for most of the season.

The driver sitting second in points is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was very strong last week with the Hendrick backing. This also happens to be the site of his last victory, which came in 2008, 143 races ago. The win also came on Father’s Day, which prompted Earnhardt Jr. to reflect after the race on what it meant for him to win on that special day.

"It's special. You know, my daddy, he meant a lot to me," Junior said. "There's a lot of people that I look up to that just happen to be great fathers themselves, role models for their sons. It means a lot to me to do well on Father's Day. It's a special day for my family, special for my sister. She's very, very happy at home and in tears on the telephone, so it means a lot to her. I'm glad she's as happy as she could possibly be today under circumstances. And it makes me feel good. I know I can't tell my father happy Father's Day, but I get the opportunity to wish it upon all of the other fathers out there, and I genuinely mean that when I say it, because that's what today is all about. It's for all of the fathers out there."

He’s running well enough to win and has the power. It would seem fitting that he’ll end the streak here at a place that is kind of an unknown and have Junior come full circle to get the monkey off his back. One week removed from being very upset after leading 36 laps at Pocono, but blowing a chance at winning after going with the a late strategy that proved to be wrong, he should be additionally motivated to win.

The schedule of events leading up to the race will be similar to last week. The teams will have two test sessions on Thursday and then have official race practices on Friday before qualifying on Saturday. Each one of those test and practice sessions will be a critical part of the betting equation for Sunday's race. I'll update who looked the best following each of the sessions on my Weekly Blog.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (10/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
4) #18 Kyle Busch (8/1)
5) #55 Mark Martin (30/1)

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

2012 Michigan Quicken Loans 400 Notes & Quotes
RYAN NEWMAN ON POSSIBILITY OF MICHIGAN NOW BEING ONE-GROOVE TRACK: “No matter how good of a paving crew there is, it’s still going to end up with character and the character comes with time. They obviously strive to do a perfect job. That’s what their goal is, just like when they pave a highway, to make it perfectly smooth. But that highway gains character over time, as well.

"We don’t want it to be one groove, obviously. It’s a super-wide racetrack and it’s really a balance of what Goodyear does with the tires it brings there and how they marble up, what kind of debris they throw as far as making it a one-groove track, or giving us the ability to move around and get that clean air and make those passes. At the same time, it ages pretty quickly up there with the weather conditions. Obviously, you get pretty hot summers and some drastic change with the cold winters and everything else. That’s a big reason why it is the way it is right now. Michigan is going to be a whole different animal depending on how we all adapt. I hope with our test day (Thursday) we can get the new track widened out and we see a good race on Sunday.”

NEWMAN MICHIGAN NOTE: Newman’s two career Sprint Cup wins at Michigan came in back-to-back fashion (August 2003 and June 2004). In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In the 2004 race, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to the checkered flag.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 39-727 will make its second start this season at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The chassis made its debut three weeks ago in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Newman started 16th and struggled with a tight-handling racecar before finishing 14th.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring Chassis #1208 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This chassis has raced this season at Las Vegas and Kansas finishing eighth and 14th, respectively. Most recently, this chassis raced in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing 21st.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1209 to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. This is the first race for this chassis.

KEVIN HARVICK ON ANY CONCERNS WITH THE HIGH SPEEDS: “Not really. I think everybody knew with the race track being repaved you were going to have some pretty high speeds and everybody was prepared. You just go do the same things that you would do at any other race trackand try to acquire as much information as you can on Thursday and apply it as fast as possible for the rest of the weekend.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The Bakersfield, Calif., native drove this RCR racer earlier this season at Kansas Speedway where he brought home a sixth-place finish. This chassis was also used in competition twice during the 2011 season when Harvick captured a second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in September and a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.

AUSTIN DILLON CHASSIS CHOICE: Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 396 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet is a new addition to the RCR fleet and will be put through its first paces this weekend.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Burton will race chassis No. 393 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 year at Auto Club Speedway in March (started-19th, finished-22nd) and Darlington Raceway in May (started-10th, finished-18th).

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Menard will pilot Chassis No. 397 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2012 competition, this No. 27 Chevrolet will turn its first laps at MIS.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON MICHIGAN ON AND THE REPAVE: “I talked to Matt Kenseth. He was at the test, and Jeff Gordon was there, too. There are different ways that we describe things and, from 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 (Thursday). 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 air flow 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 after leaving the Pocono test and race and we head to Michigan, 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.”

CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: "A win at Michigan is as big as any win on the circuit because it’s in Ford & Jack Roush’s backyard. It’s huge to be able to win arace there and we need a win right now. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen with the new surface yet. Last week we were able to adapt and make our car fast, and hopefully we can do the same thing this week to get our Fastenal Ford to victory lane.”

EDWARDS MICHIGAN NOTES: Edwards will make his 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Michigan InternationalSpeedway Sunday. In his previous 15 starts, Edwards has two wins, nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. His average start at Michigan is 20.9, his average finish is 8.2. He has completed 99 percent of the laps he has attempted at the two-mile track. Only three times in his previous 15 starts has Edwards finished outside the top 10.

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 Fastenal Blue Team will be unloading chassis 782. Edwards last raced this car at the All Star race where he had an engine failure. He also raced it at California where he finished fifth.

MATT KENSETH ON MICHIGAN: “Michigan is one of my favorite tracks throughout the season and I always look forward to going to Michigan since it’s in the Midwest. It’s really important to have a good-handling car at Michigan since it’s a big sweeping track. We participated in thetire test here in April and saw some pretty quick lap times. There was a ton of grip, and I assume it would be a little faster as the track gets dusted off and rubbered in, so speeds should pick up a bit. When we were in race trim, we were almost four seconds faster than we were racing last year, which is quite a difference. Racing at Michigan is a big weekend for us since the area is the headquarters for Roush Industries and Ford Motor Company.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis: Primary: RK-808 (brand new chassis)

GREG BIFFLE ON MICHIGAN: “I’m looking forward to Michigan. It’s one of my favorite tracks and we’ve run really, really well there in the past. It’s another track that’s been repaved, so we’ll have another whole day of testing this week to get our cars going good for the weekend. Again engines are going to be an issue with the high rpms, but we’ll just have to wait and see how MIS turns out.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-809 Last ran Charlotte – finished fourth: Backup: RK-803 Last ran All-Star – finished 22nd

MARK MARTIN MICHIGAN NOTES: In 52 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Martin owns five victories and 18 top-five finishes. He’s led 911 laps. Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup victories.

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The team has prepared chassis No. 752 for the Michigan race. This chassis ran previously this season in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte and at Kansas and Fontana.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 784 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway. This Stanley Ford was run previously this season at California and Kansas.

MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary - Chassis 734—first race in 2012. Backup - Chassis 726—raced in Fontana and Darlington in 2012.

CLINT BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 727 has raced twice in 2012. It started 11th and finished 13 at Fontana and started 26th and finished 11th at Darlington. Chassis No. 721 is the backup and previously served backup duty at Las Vegas, California, Texas, Kansas, Darlington, All-Star, Charlotte and Pocono but never raced.

JOEY LOGANO ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT MICHIGAN: “I’m not real sure of what to expect at Michigan just like we weren’t really sure what to expect at Pocono. The Pocono race turned out to be a pretty good one and hopefully Michigan will be just the same. One thing that we do know is that the track is going to be fast. It will be very interesting to see what kind of times we will run and how many grooves of racing we will have there. This week, running the Nationwide race might not be as much of an advantage because we will pretty much be wide open in the Nationwide cars there. In the end, the car and the team who gets the most out of Thursday will likely be the car to beat all weekend long. I just hope that car is us.”

KYLE BUSCH ON WHAT TO EXPECT AT MICHIGAN: “I expect it to be fast. With a new surface, there’s always a lot of grip. Obviously, it’s going to be warmer than what it was back in April for the tire test, so it might not be as fast as it was then. I had missed the first day, and the other guys had already run the day before. So I’m out there, and I’m thinking that I was really fast. I was running 37.80 (lap times) and I asked my guys what those other guys were running, and they told me they’re in the 37.20s right now. I couldn’t believe it. But if you are just a little bit loose there, now you are nervous that just any little bit of getting outside the groove or having a little bit too much yaw will lead to a wreck. It was really intense. We finally got the car tightened up enough where the car wasn’t nervous, and then it didn’t make me nervous and we were fine. But you are hauling there, now, for sure.”

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Michigan Testing Notes
By Frederic Crespi

Unlike last week's two-day test (three separate sessions) at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR.com gave us race fans a treat today by having the Live leaderboard feature available for today's two Michigan Speedway test practices.  Anytime tracks repave or reconfigure their surfaces, NASCAR always allows teams extra time on the track in order to create new notes and allow Goodyear to see if they brought the right tire for the track.

While most of us are unaware of what teams will be using back-up or primary chassis' during the test, having that live timing and scoring feature available really helps us much more in terms of handicapping this race, both from a wagering and fantasy perspective.  By that, I am referring to the feature of having AVERAGE lap times which is especially important during today's two three-hour sessions.

Depending on the time any on-track activity is scheduled for, this is in my opinion, the most important aspect of any race weekend. If you practice/test at 10:00 A.M. and race and 4:00 P.M., that data is easily skewed due to the completely different track temperatures.  Today's two test sessions were early enough for us to gather some solid information if we combine both of them based upon the starting time of this Sunday's race.

With that said, there is also the factor of the number of laps that are run by each specific team.  In today's two test sessions, certain teams ran a lot more laps than others, and the more laps run the better, especially when you do not have to worry about your engine (NASCAR allows every team to place race engines in at the start of practice, not testing).

Mark Martin in the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota logged the most laps between both practices with 103, with a small sample of 26 in the first test, and huge number of 77 in the final one. Martin was one of two drivers to log triple digit laps along with this weekend's fan favorite to win (four years and Father's Day since his last win) Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with 100.  Both of these drivers were also very impressive with their average speeds, with Martin coming home second and Earnhardt, Jr. in the fifth spot. The No. 14 of Tony Stewart clocked in first, Kurt Busch third, and Clint Bowyer fourth in overall average. However it's about the number of laps on the track, as the teams of Stewart, Busch, and Bowyer and many other drivers/teams, did not come close to either Martin's or Dale Jr.'s laps run total.

Outside of the No. 55 and No. 88 car, you always have to look at Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing at Michigan. Kyle Busch logged 87 laps with teammate, and most recent winner, Joey Logano ran 97. Kyle took home the seventh fastest average while the Home Depot machine came in 14th.  Surprisingly, the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin finished 22nd overall in average but did roll his piece around Michigan 93 times. Points leader Matt Kenseth came home in 15th with laps run, while "The Biff" was 17th with 71 laps. Edwards was 9th in average with 66 laps in the book.

Based upon today (and of course last week), this race looks to be between Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at this point.  There is plenty of on-track activity left, as well as more teams releasing what chassis' they used during testing practices (or should they?), but based upon form, these two drivers should be in the top-five and hunting for the win all day long on Sunday.

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Michigan
By: Jeff Wackerlin

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Who's HOT at Michigan

• Denny Hamlin has won the last two June races.
• Two-time winner Carl Edwards leads all drivers with an 8.2 average finish.
• Two-time winner Matt Kenseth has only finished outside of the top 15 three times in 25 starts.
• Tony Stewart has finished ninth or better in five of his last six starts.
• Five-time winner Mark Martin leads all drivers with 31 top 10s.
• Kyle Busch finished third and first, respectively, in both races last season.
• Two-time winner Michigan winner Greg Biffle has the best driver rating.

Keep an Eye On at Michigan

• Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard were among the drivers that posted laps over 200 mph in Thursday's Michigan test session.
• Last week's Pocono winner Joey Logano posted the second-best 10 consecutive lap average in the test session.
• Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman each finished in the top 10 in both Michigan races last season.
• Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the last five races at 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan).

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Carl Edwards
Ricky Hamber: Matt Kenseth
John Singler: Denny Hamlin

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Matt Kenseth: Last of two wins came in the 2006 August race; Has finished in the top 10 in the last three races; Participated in the Goodyear tire test in April; 12.4 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 808) in the Quicken Loans 400.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Won this event in 2008 with Hendrick Motorsports; 12.8 average finish in eight starts with Hendrick; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 716) that he finished seventh with at Kansas Speedway.

Greg Biffle: Has combined to lead 220 laps in last three starts; Last of two wins came in this event in 2005; 12.8 average finish in 18 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 809) that he finished fourth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin: Winner of the last two June races; Led 123 laps en route to the win in this event in 2010; 12.1 average finish in 12 starts.

Jimmie Johnson: Coming off best finish in 20 starts in second; 15.2 average finish; Tied for fourth among all drivers with a 8.8 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 720) that he won the All-Star Race with.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2010 August race; 15.0 average finish in 22 starts; Fifth among all drivers with a 9.6 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 378) that he raced to a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr: 17.5 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Eighth-place finish in the 2010 August race is only top 10 with MWR; Scored two runner-up finishes with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007.

Tony Stewart: Has finished in the top 10 in the last four races; 8.5 average finish in six starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Won this event in 2000 with Joe Gibbs Racing; Second among all drivers with a 6.2 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 706) that he won the rain-shortened race at Auto Club Speedway with.

Clint Bowyer: Finished eighth in both races last season; 18.3 average finish in 12 starts; Third among all drivers with a 7.6 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the same car (chassis No. 727) that he most recently finished 11th with at Darlington Raceway.

Brad Keselowski: Coming off first top 10 in five starts in third; 22.6 average finish; Participated in the Goodyear tire test in April.

Carl Edwards: Two-time winner; Leads all drivers with 8.2 average finish; Has finished in the top five in five of his last seven starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 782) that he finished fifth with at Auto Club Speedway.

Kyle Busch: Coming off first win in 14 starts; Combined to lead 81 laps in both races last season; Participated in the Goodyear tire test in April; Tied for fourth among all drivers with a 8.8 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan).

Paul Menard: Fourth-place finish in this event last year is only top 10 in 11 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 397) in the Quicken Loans 400.

Ryan Newman: Posted a 5.5 average finish in both races last season; 17.3 average finish in six starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Posted two wins in previous 15 starts with Penske Racing; Leads all drivers with a 5.8 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 727) that he finished 14th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Joey Logano: Three top 10s and a 15.2 average finish in six starts; Has yet to lead a lap.

Kasey Kahne: Coming off seventh top 10 in 16 starts; Won this event in 2006 race with Evernham Motorsports; 12.4 average finish in the last five races on 2-mile speedways (Auto Club and Michigan).

Marcos Ambrose: 27.0 average finish in seven starts; Posted best finish (15th) in both races in 20102; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 784) that he most recently finished 16th with at Kansas Speedway.

Jeff Burton: Last of nine top 10s (eighth-place finish) came in this event in 2010; 16.4 average finish in 36 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 393) that he most recently finished 18th with at Darlington Raceway.

Jamie McMurray: 21.5 average finish in four starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; 19.5 average finish in 18 overall starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1208) that he most recently finished 21st with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Aric Almirola: Making first Sprint Cup track start; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 752) that he most recently finished 23rd with (in a points-paying race) at Kansas Speedway.

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts

Practice Notes - Michigan

Rating     Driver     Odds     Testing*     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified
1     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     10/1     4th     2nd     25th     17th
Notes: 2008 winner, his last in 144 races; great test and practice, might have his best Hendrick car ever.

2     Matt Kenseth     8/1     14th     5th     10th     6th
Notes: Two-time winner with 9.5 average finish; fast average speeds in final practice; using new chassis.

3     Mark Martin     15/1     1st     1st     24th     14th
Notes: Five time winner, the last coming in '09. Found lots of speed on the new surfaces last two weeks.

4     Tony Stewart     8/1     1st     4th     27th     8th
Notes: 2000 winner, his lone track win in 26 starts; using winning Fontana chassis, a clone of Vegas car.

5     Kasey Kahne     12/1     17th     8th     22nd     4th
Notes: 2006 winner; strong average speeds in final practice using his winning Coca-Cola 600 chassis.

6     Jimmie Johnson     6/1     10th     31st     7th     10th
Notes: No wins in 20 starts, finished runner-up last fall; using $1 million winning All-Star race chassis.

7     Kevin Harvick     12/1     2nd     33rd     3rd     2nd
Notes: 2010 winner; strong showing during testing and practices; using runner-up Chicagoland car.

8     Greg Biffle     7/1     2nd     15th     1st     3rd
Notes: Two-time winner; practiced at track record 204 mph; using fourth-place Coca-Cola chassis.

9     Denny Hamlin     8/1     26th     24th     11th     11th
Notes: Has won the past two spring races; Joe Gibbs engines have been impressive at new high speeds.

10     Jeff Gordon     12/1     10th     7th     26th     28th
Notes: Two-time winner in 36 starts, the last coming in 2001. Candidate because of Hendrick team notes.

* 43 drivers tested Michigan's new pavement on Thursday prior to Friday's practices. The rank listed is the best run a driver had in any one of the two sessions.

Betting Notes: Just like we saw last week on Pocono's new surface last week, we can expect to see a long-shot contend for the win at Michigan on Sunday. Of course, the top teams aren't going anywhere, but they are brought back into the pack of some lesser teams because of all the unknown variables.

Marcos Ambrose is worth taking a shot with at 100-to-1 odds. He wasn't special when tinkering with race set-up during practice, but we do know they can find some speed and that's what the name of the game will be Sunday. For the same reasons, a confident Joey Logano -- with a little zip in his stride after last weeks win -- could provide a back-to-back at 40-to-1 odds.

My favorite still remains Dale Earnhardt Jr. It could be that I'm stuck in the moment of the 2001 Daytona Firecracker and could easily see another storybook ending, this time being Fathers Day. It's pretty stupid to bet on something that has failed 144 straight times, the length its been since Earnhardt Jr's last won, but my stupidity actually has some merit.

This time, there is truly evidence from Thursday's testing and Friday's practices to suggest Junior might have his best car ever. His average speeds were outstanding and he was the shining star of the week for Hendrick Motorsports which houses nine Sprint Cup Championship trophies.

The drivers Earnhardt Jr. is probably going to have to take it from, or hold off, is Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart or Mark Martin.

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Re: Quicken Loans 400 Betting News and Notes

Dissecting the Odds to Win The Quicken Loans 400
by Frederic Crespi

This has been quite an interesting race weekend, to say the least, so far. With the second time in a matter of weeks, the Sprint Cup teams head to yet another track that has been repaved, and the speeds created were a welcome site for all NASCAR fans.  However, after the last of the four practice sessions (two tests on Thursday and two race practices on Friday), NASCAR and Goodyear decided to bring another set of left side tires due to the blistering of the original ones caused after any consecutive run of 12 to 15 laps. Not all teams experienced this, but it was still enough to warrant a change.

With that happening, the teams will all have another practice session in order to figure out how these tires will change the balance of their cars, which will of course impact the way how these teams will have to re-set up their initial set ups. This last tire combination was used at Charlotte Motor Speedway back in 2006 when they had recently repaved that track following their last race the year before.

All we can do at this point is take the four on-track sessions and go from there in terms of figuring out the race favorites for this weekend.  This last practice may or may not change the odds, but I doubt that it would be anything significant from the adjusted LVH odds that came out after both practices on Friday.

So let’s go with that while looking at the LVH’s opening odds and their adjusted odds from Friday. Let’s stick with the same format but also switch it up some, as the “Contenders”, “Pretenders” and “Sleepers” were based upon the odds available. Let’s get now go with who really has a chance to get to Victory Lane even if the odds are not that attractive.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at 12-to-1:  These odds seemed low to me at first, but after last weekend’s race and this team’s overall performance this season, it would be tough to hang a number any higher.  After the four sessions, this number dropped to 10-1 for good reason, but with this No. 88 car’s qualifying effort, perhaps we’ll see a small adjustment upwards. I doubt it, but if so, this driver and team are ready to win and there will be no better venue (last win four years ago this weekend) for them to pull this off. **UPDATE** Dale Jr. is unhappy with the new left side tires and was disappointed that his team had to end yesterday's late practice early because they had reached their engine limit. Said they were not right and needed more track time.

Mark Martin at 30-to-1: This driver was not pleased with the move that the eventual race winner Joey Logano put on him late in last week’s race. However, that is Pocono, repaved or not. Does anyone remember the move Jeremy Mayfield pulled off on Dale Earnhardt, Sr. at this track back in 2000? Just a touch…just a little tap..tap..tapperoo. Martin and his Michael Waltrip Racing team have been very fast once again through all sessions, and should be near the front at the end of this race. His odds were dropped to 15-to-1, but if that number is still available, you have to pull the trigger.

Matt Kenseth at 7-to-1, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards at 8-to-1: These odds came out pretty low and for good reason. With the Ford Motor Company’s headquarters in Michigan, Jack Roush and his drivers have 11 wins at this venue.  They haven’t won in three years, but all three of these drivers have been very impressive so far this week, as they have been this season (outside of the No. 99 team of course).  Edwards and his team had an engine issue during qualifying resulting in a 42nd starting spot, but his teammates were quite impressive over the last three days. At this point, unless Edwards is in the 15-to-1 range, he has to be left out, but both Biffle and Kenseth have to be looked at. I would lean to the No. 17 this week at these odds. By the way, like last week, another (the same one) Las Vegas property came out with really awful booking numbers with Kenseth at 18-to-1, and Biffle at 14-to-1. They dodged the Hamlin 14-to-1 bullet last week, but this week might bite them in the rear.  **UPDATE** Word in the garage area is that Matt Kenseth is very unhappy with how the new left side tire affected the balance and speed of his race car and said that this has taken a potential race winning car to a car lucky to finish 10th.

Kasey Kahne at 12-to-1:  This driver and team looked like serious contenders last week, but they were unfortunate once again.  They have been fast once again and look like yet another Hendrick Motorsports team that could see the checkers come Sunday. Kahne was right there with both Martin and Earnhardt, Jr. in all sessions and should be considered a contender as well as this team been running lately. **UPDATE** Kahne won both races at Charlotte in 2006 when they used this left side tire. He's looking real good.

The possible “Sleepers” have to include Marcos Ambrose, who opened at 100-to-1 and remained the same after the sessions that concluded on Friday.  However, this car took the Coors’ Light Pole earlier on Saturday afternoon, so based upon the odds, he has to be looked at. I would think, based upon Ambrose’s history overall on these type of tracks, and of course the history of Richard Petty Motorsports, his odds would only drop to the 40-to-1 range. Regardless, with the way this team has been running lately, 100-to-1 is pretty silly even if he is unlikely to get the checkered flag, but at 40-1 or better, he has to be given a look.

In closing, while we have yet another brand new surface at Michigan, which has been and always will be about the top teams, this race will come down to crew chief’s that can figure out this new surface and new left side tires and what do do on pit road in terms of four tires or two tires.  It’s a long race, so do not be surprised to see fuel and, of course tires, be a major factor tomorrow.

Surprise winner? Very possible of course, but it still looks like the No. 55 and the No. 88 should be right up there at the end. **UPDATE** Looks like Biffle and Kahne have vaulted themselves up there with Mark Martin while Dale Jr. has dropped down.

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