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Quaker State 400 Betting News and Notes

Quaker State 400 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway Data

Race #: 17 of 36 (06-30-12)
Track Size: 1.5 miles
Race Length: 267 laps / 400.5 miles
Banking/Turns: 14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 8 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 4 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,662 feet
Backstretch: 1,600 feet

Top 12 Driver Rating at Kentucky

Kyle Busch 145.6
Jimmie Johnson 119.8
Brad Keselowski 118.6
Kurt Busch 118.5
Carl Edwards 108.2
David Reutimann 105.8
Matt Kenseth 103.1
Juan Pablo Montoya 100.7
Tony Stewart 97.2
Kasey Kahne 94.6
David Ragan 94.1
Kevin Harvick 85.8

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (one total) at Kentucky.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: None due to weather
2011 race winner: Kyle Busch, (137.314 mph, 2:55:00, 07-09-11)
Track qualifying record: None due to weather
Track race record: Kyle Busch, (137.314 mph, 2:55:00, 07-09-11)

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Driver Highlights - Kentucky

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

One top 10
Average finish of 9.0
Average Running Position of 3.7, second-best
Driver Rating of 118.5, fourth-best
20 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.110 mph, third-fastest
266 Laps in the Top 15 (99.6%), second-most
44 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 12th-most

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

One win, one top five, one top 10
Average finish of 1.0
Series-best Average Running Position of 2.3
Series-best Driver Rating of 145.6
Series-high 57 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.429 mph
Series-high 267 Laps in the Top 15 (100.0%)
Carl Edwards (No. 99 UPS Ford)

One top five, one top 10
Average finish of 5.0
Average Running Position of 7.6, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 108.2, fifth-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.692 mph, seventh-fastest
257 Laps in the Top 15 (96.3%), fifth-most
56 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet)

Average finish of 16.0
Average Running Position of 13.3, 12th-best
Driver Rating of 85.8, 12th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.943 mph, 12th-fastest
175 Laps in the Top 15 (65.5%), 13th-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Ermine White Chevrolet)

One top five, one top 10
Average finish of 3.0
Average Running Position of 5.5, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 119.8, second-best
22 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.162 mph, second-fastest
256 Laps in the Top 15 (95.9%), seventh-most
65 Quality Passes, third-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet)

Average finish of 13.0
Average Running Position of 11.9, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 94.6, 10th-best
7 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
Series-high 132 Green Flag Passes
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.314 mph, 11th-fastest
44 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 5th/3rd Bank Ford)

One top 10
Average finish of 6.0
Average Running Position of 8.9, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 103.1, seventh-best
14 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.565 mph, eighth-fastest
262 Laps in the Top 15 (98.1%), third-most
Series-high 74 Quality Passes

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

One top 10
Average finish of 7.0
Average Running Position of 5.3, third-best
Driver Rating of 118.6, third-best
31 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 173.050 mph, fourth-fastest
259 Laps in the Top 15 (97.0%), fourth-most
51 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet)

Average finish of 15.0
Average Running Position of 7.9, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 100.7, eighth-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.703 mph, sixth-fastest
257 Laps in the Top 15 (96.3%), fifth-most
58 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet)

One top five, one top 10
Average finish of 4.0
Driver Rating of 85.5, 13th-best
3 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
103 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most

David Ragan (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford)

One top 10
Average finish of 8.0
Average Running Position of 10.9, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 94.1, 11th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.902 mph, 13th-fastest
225 Laps in the Top 15 (84.3%), ninth-most
60 Quality Passes, fourth-most

David Reutimann (No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet)

One top five, one top 10
Average finish of 2.0
Average Running Position of 8.7, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 105.8, sixth-best
3 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
117 Green Flag Passes, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.343 mph, 10th-fastest
248 Laps in the Top 15 (92.9%), eighth-most
66 Quality Passes, second-most

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

Average finish of 12.0
Average Running Position of 12.0, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 97.2, ninth-best
17 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
114 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 172.793 mph, fifth-fastest
176 Laps in the Top 15 (65.9%), 12th-most
50 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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Kentucky Quaker State 400 Storylines

Clint Bowyer was perhaps the most disappointed driver of 2011. He was the first outside the top 10 in points after 26 races to miss qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. Bowyer won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup road race at Sonoma on Sunday and hopes it builds momentum toward a Chase berth, which would be Michael Waltrip Racing’s first trip to the postseason.

Saturday night’s second Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway marks the beginning of the Race for the Chase – the season’s second-most important 10 weeks that ends with the 12-driver Chase field determined Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway. Nine of last year’s top 10 after the first 16 races made it to post-season play – ironically Bowyer being the odd man out.

Also interesting to note: champion Tony Stewart was 12th after Sonoma’s road race in 2011. He scratched and clawed his way into the Chase field and with five victories outlasted Carl Edwards on a tiebreaker.

Edwards continues to suffer through a championship near-miss slump. He’s 11th in points but, without a victory doesn’t currently figure in the Chase "Wild Card" battle headed by Quaker State 400 winner Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle again are one-two in series points, the 15th week that one or the other has held the No. 1 spot. RFR loves the 1.5-mile intermediate tracks where in 25 seasons of NASCAR Cup competition the organization has collected 40 of its 127 victories.

NASCAR resumes its "tripleheader" format as the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway.

Joey Logano won three consecutive NASCAR Nationwide events in Kentucky (2008-2010) before Brad Keselowski stopped his streak a year ago. Logano has been red-hot in the series in 2012 winning four of the last five races he’s entered. The Feed the Children 300 is set for Friday night.

Keselowski will being doing triple duty at Kentucky Speedway beginning with Thursday night’s UNOH 225 in which he continues to seek his first NASCAR Camping World Truck victory to complete a sweep of all three NASCAR national series. The spotlight, however, may be on Nelson Piquet Jr. based upon what he did over the weekend. Piquet, a former Formula 1 competitor, became the first Brazilian to win a NASCAR national series event as he captured the NASCAR Nationwide Sargento 200 from a Coors Light Pole start.

Race To The Chase Starts Now

Obviously the final 10 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season comprise the most important segment of the season. The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ crowns the 2012 champion. But first you have to get there. The next 10 weeks – the Race to the Chase – sets the 12-driver field for the post-season beginning with Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 (TNT live 7:30 p.m. EDT) at Kentucky Speedway. The Chase lineup will be set following Richmond International Raceway’s event on Sept.8.

A look back at last year’s Race to the Chase: With 10 races to go, nine of the then-top 10 survived for post-season competition. Only Clint Bowyer missed the cut – and ironically Bowyer picked up his first victory of 2012 on Sunday in Sonoma. He’s ranked seventh, one spot better than a year ago.

Bowyer became the season’s 12th different winner – the most since 2003. Only two drivers ranked among the top 10 – Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick – are without a victory.

Of note: Tony Stewart, the 2011 champion, was 12th following last year’s Sonoma race.

Bowyer’s Sonoma victory was just the team’s third since formation in 2002. But it’s hard to say MWR and "dark horse" in the same sentence. Both Bowyer and Truex sit in the top 10. Truex led 15 laps in Sonoma where part-time MWR driver Brian Vickers, who’d spent the previous weekend competing in Le Mans’ famed 24-hour race, finished fourth.

MWR never has qualified a driver for the Chase, a short coming that likely will be ended this season.

‘Wild Card’ Competition Still Wide Open

A year ago, Brad Keselowski wasn’t being mentioned even as a favorite to pick up a "wild card" berth in the Chase, one of two spots reserved for drivers ranked 11th through 20th who have the most victories. But he’s a pivotal figure this year, battling Carl Edwards for the 10th points position which Keselowski grips by 11 points. Edwards, last year’s No. 2 points finisher, is "odd man out" at this juncture – out of the top 10 and without a victory thereby qualifying as a "wild card."

The top two "wild card" aspirants are Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman with one win apiece and ranked 12th and 13th.

Prominent Names Still Winless in ’12

Jeff Gordon, the active driver with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup victories (85) heads a number of 2011 winners still waiting for their turn in Victory Lane. Gordon led all three practices at Sonoma, qualified second (to Marcos Ambrose – winner of Coors Light Poles in back-to-back weeks) and finished sixth after leading 13 laps. Ambrose, eighth in Sonoma, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith also won a year ago but haven’t repeated in the season’s first 16 races.

Roush Fenway Racing Drivers One-Two Again

Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle again hold the top two spots in the standings and along with Edwards look forward to competing on Kentucky Speedway’s 1.5-mile layout. Roush Fenway Racing, celebrating its 25th season in NASCAR, counts 40 of 127 victories (31%) 1.5-mile intermediate tracks. The organization is the top winner at three: Homestead-Miami Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Biffle won at Texas earlier this spring.

Second Year On Cup Schedule For Kentucky

Kyle Busch dominated last year’s inaugural Quaker State 400 leading the most laps from a pole position that was set via the rule book due to inclement weather that canceled qualifying. Busch needs a pick-me-up for sure. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has averaged a finish of 27.0 over his past four starts and has fallen from ninth to 12th in the points standings.

Two drivers who could use a Bluegrass State victory to close on career track sweeps are Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Each lacks wins on one additional scheduled facilities – Gordon at Homestead and Stewart at Darlington. Gordon led his 23,000th lap in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition on Sunday in Sonoma. He’s the active leader of the category and seventh in the history of laps led.

Kentucky Etc. Edwards can join Kyle Busch as a winner in all three NASCAR national series at Kentucky Speedway. He won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck race there in 2003 as a rookie and added a Nationwide Series victory in 2005.

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Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Quaker State 400

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON KENTUCKY: “Really, how rough the track is. My first laps there from the test session last year when we went, I felt like the bumps were going to make the car lose grip and spin out and be out of control. But there is so much grip there that, even with as rough and as bumpy as it is, you stand on the gas and carry a ton of speed and just bounce around. Those are the things I had to overcome when I got on the track last year.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 714 serves as the primary for Johnson at Kentucky. This car has raced twice in 2012, finishing 11th at Charlotte and runner-up at Texas. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

TONY STEWART ON KENTUCKY: “I’m a Southern Indiana guy, so the track is not very far from where I grew up and where I currently live. It’s kind of a home track to us, and that’s kind of the feeling we have going into it. You always want to run well at your home tracks. Even though Indy has always been my home track in the past, now having Kentucky Speedway there, it’s as much home to me as Indy. We’re definitely looking forward to it. Plus, it’s an area that has deep racingroots. There’s a lot of dirt track racing roots around Kentucky.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This car debuted in May 2011 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway where it enjoyed a solid outing, qualifying ninth and leading six laps before finishing seventh. It spent time in the wind tunnel afterward and made its second career start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. There, it qualified 15th and moved its way into the top-five by lap 124, only to be felled two laps later when Stewart reported that he had lost third gear. The balky transmission prevented Stewart from getting up to speed quickly on restarts, which conspired to leave Chassis No. 14-640 in 21st place when the checkered flag dropped. The car returned to Pocono in August where it rallied from its 28th-place starting spot and a flat left-front tire on lap 92 that at one point had Stewart a lap down to finish on the lead lap in 11th.

Chassis No. 14-640 broke through in the first race of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland
Speedway in Joliet, Ill., when it started 26th and led four times for 35 laps en route to the win. The car received a new body during the offseason and participated in a Goodyear Tire Test Feb. 7-8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Its first race of 2012 and fifth overall came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, where Stewart drove from seventh to lead three times for a race-high 127 laps to score his first Sprint Cup win at Las Vegas. Chassis No. 14-640 raced at Texas in April, but unlike its past performances at intermediate tracks, the car struggled, qualifying 29th and finishing two laps down in 24th. Numerous trips to the wind tunnel, along with a single-day test June 14 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, have the car better prepared for its seventh career start Saturday night at Kentucky.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: 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 twice during the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season at Kansas Speedway in April (started-12th, finished-22nd) and in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May (started-22nd, finished-19th). This chassis has seen significant track time in 2011 including visits to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (started-13th, finished-35th), Atlanta Motor Speedway (started-27th, finished-13th) and Kansas (started-31st, finished-21st). Burton also tallied a top-10 finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing 10th after starting 31st with this Chevrolet.

KEVIN HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 381 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Quaker State 400. Harvick drove this Chevrolet to a 13th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June of 2011. It was also driven earlier this season by Brendan Gaughan at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a No. 33 RCR Sprint Cup Series entry.

PAUL MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last utilized in competition at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May where Menard started ninth and finished 15th. This chassis was also used at Phoenix International Raceway in March.

MATT KENSETH ON KENTUCKY: “I’ve only raced at Kentucky once now and we ran pretty competitively there to finish well in last year’s race. My comfort level is high going into this weekend, but I’m just not as familiar with the track yet as a lot of the guys who have competed in Nationwide series races there in the past. I’m looking forward to going back to Kentucky this weekend because there were a lot of great fans in the area. There was a lot of great support from the region and I thought it was a great race last year, so I’m looking forward to another great weekend at Kentucky.”

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

GREG BIFFLE ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky is a really fun, flat 1.5-mile track which creates lots of side-by-side racing. The sweeping corners, combined with the flat puts on a great race. Plus Saturday night racing under the lights is always exciting.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-803 Last ran All-Star – finished 22nd; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

CARL EDWARDS ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky is pretty huge for us. It is a UPS race for us, our only UPS race this year, and it is right there near Best Buy’s Geek Squad headquarters so we are going to do some stuff there which will be fun. It is a big race for us. I had my first win in NASCAR there in the truck series in 2003. It is huge for me to be able to go back there and have the opportunity to run in the Cup Series and get a win there. We had one Nationwide win there as well and I really like that place. It has character and the fans are wound up so it’s a lot of fun.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: RK-811 Last outing: Charlotte in May – finished ninth; Texas in April – finished eighth

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 693 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Kentucky Speedway. This Mac Tools Ford was run previously this season in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON KENTUCKY: “Kentucky Speedway has been a mixed bag for me. It has really changed so much over the years. Last year, we didn’t really run very well there. In the past, I have had good runs there in a Nationwide car. I’ve had several top-fives so I’m not stressing over last year at all. With the way our teams have worked together and the way our Toyotas have been running, I look forward to the challenge. It’s a pretty neat track. It’s really fast. It’s crazy bumpy. It’s a huge challenge for everyone to get these cars around it. The key will be to keep the splitters off the ground.”

KYLE BUSCH ON KENTUCKY: “Last year, we were really fast at Kentucky with our M&M’s Camry. We unloaded really well and we were quick. We had that open test day there and we were fast. We were fastest in practice and then qualifying actually got rained out, so it gave us the automatic pole, but I still say we won the pole. It was a great race for us. We started up front, we led some laps and Kurt (Busch) led some laps. It was cool to battle with Kurt for a while. I remember Kurt was up there, (Brad) Keselowski was there, Jimmie Johnson got up there, and David Reutimann finished second there at the end. There were lot of good cars and a lot of really fast guys who we had to deal with and race hard with, and I’d expect the same this year, as well.”

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Quaker State 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series makes their second visit to the Blue Grass State with Saturday night’s event at Kentucky Speedway, a 1.5-mile facility with 14 degrees of banking. Last season’s event won by Kyle Busch was filled with all kinds of pre-race anticipation. Unfortunately, the only problem for fans was actually getting there. Thousands missed the race due to being stuck in traffic, a problem the track and state troopers vowed to have fixed this year.

Because there hasn’t been enough data accumulated at Kentucky to give us a good read on past history, we have to incorporate a few similar tracks like Kansas and Chicagoland, both of which have similar banking at the same distance.

In the April Kansas race, Denny Hamlin held on for the final 30 laps to get the victory, but it was Martin Truex Jr. who dominated the afternoon leading 173 of the 267 laps. Truex Jr. settled for runner-up and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

In Johnson’s case, the No. 48 team hadn’t hit their full stride when Kansas came around, but they are on a full throttle boogie right now. Since winning at Darlington, Johnson has won the All-Star race, won at Dover and is on a streak of four straight top-five finishes.

Johnson describes a lap around Kansas as rough and bumpy and says it's kind of in its own league among the 1.5-mile tracks.

"It’s the roughest and fastest track we go to," Johnson explains. "Well, Atlanta is fast, but there are big swells and I still don’t feel like we’re driving as hard at Atlanta as we are at Kentucky. At Kentucky, you’re driving it like a freshly repaved track. You have high frequency bumps and banking doing weird things. It’s a fun track for those reasons and it has a lot of character to it.”

Kenseth and Biffle are sitting 1-2 in the standings and this type of track has been Roush-Fenway Racing’s bread and butter over the years. The duo finished in the top-5 at Kansas this year and has been fast on all 1.5-mile tracks this season with Biffle grabbing a Texas win.

It was announced earlier in the week that 2012 would be Kenseth's last season with RFR with Ricky Stenhouse taking over the No. 17 ride. This is a relationship few expected to ever see end because it was Jack Roush who nurtured the rising Kenseth to become a Cup Champion that is considered now one of the best drivers on the circuit.

But this is the process Roush has had with all his drivers. He brings them up while their young and willing to listen, gives them good cars and then watches them leave. It's happened with Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and now Kenseth.

In relation to what Kenseth being a lame duck driver means for the upcoming races, we shouldn't expect to see Kenseth's performances be any less that it has been throughout this season. The team still has eyes on a Championship, a title that would still hang in the Roush rafters.

"I'm very thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunities he's given me over the past 14 years. Together we have enjoyed a lot of success," Kenseth tweeted on Tuesday. "And as a team we are committed as ever to the remainder of the 2012 season and chasing a 3rd Sprint Cup title for Jack and RFR. Although I have nothing to announce regarding 2013, I feel the timing of this announcement gives RFR ample time to get things lined up..."

Although Kenseth hasn't announced where he will be driving in 2013, it's thought that Joe Gibbs Racing will be his next stop in either the No. 20 currently driven by Joey Logano or else a fourth JGR car.

The Michael Waltrip Racing drivers come off their first win of the season on the road course at Sonoma and could make in two in a row this week because they have shown to have perhaps the most consistent power among all the Toyota’s despite getting the same information as the Joe Gibbs drivers.

The added incentive this week is that car owner Michael Waltrip is from Kentucky and would love to get a win in his home state. Waltrip will even be taking the wheel of the No. 55 car and try to get the win himself.

Clint Bowyer won last week, but look for Truex Jr. to be the star on Saturday. He should have very attractive odds this week that make the play very worthwhile despite not winning a race since 2007.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #56 Martin Truex Jr (25/1)
2) #16 Greg Biffle (8/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
4) #17 Matt Kenseth (10/1)
5) #18 Kyle Busch (10/1)

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Driver Handicaps: Kentucky

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

2012 1.5-Mile Track Average Leaders

Driver Average Finish
Greg Biffle 3.3
Jimmie Johnson 4.5
Carl Edwards 7.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 8.3
Kevin Harvick 8.5
Denny Hamlin 8.8
Kasey Kahne 8.8
Martin Truex Jr. 9.3
Matt Kenseth    10.3
Jeff Gordon 11.0

2012 1.5-Mile Track Lap Leaders

Driver Laps Led
Greg Biffle 296
Martin Truex Jr. 242
Jimmie Johnson 193
Tony Stewart 127
Kasey Kahne 96
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 70
Kyle Busch 55
AJ Allmendinger 45
Denny Hamlin 45
Matt Kenseth 38

1.5-Mile Winners in 2012: Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Jimmie Johnson
Pete Pistone: Greg Biffle
Ricky Hamber: Kyle Busch
John Singler: Matt Kenseth

Chassis Notes - Ordered by current driver standings

Matt Kenseth:
Will return in the same car (chassis No. 741) that he finished 10th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Greg Biffle: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 803) that he finished 22nd with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 668) that he finished sixth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 714) that he finished second and 11th with at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, respectively.

Tony Stewart: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 640) that he won and finished 24th with at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, respectively.

Kevin Harvick: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 381) that he finished 13th with at Texas Motor Speedway last November.

Brad Keselowski: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 822) that he finished 11th with at Kansas Speedway.

Carl Edwards: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 811) that he finished ninth with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ryan Newman: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 686) that he most recently finished 12th with at Pocono Raceway.

Paul Menard: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he finished 15th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Marcos Ambrose: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 693) that he finished seventh with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jeff Burton: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 367) that he last finished 19th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jamie McMurray: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1208) that he last finished 14th with at Michigan International Speedway.

Aric Almirola: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 783) that he won the pole and finished 16th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Juan Pablo Montoya: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1205) that he last finished 20th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

AJ Allmendinger: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 823) that he led 44 laps from the pole at Kansas Speedway before a mechanical issue relegated him to a 32nd-place finish.

Kurt Busch: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 557) that he finished 21st with at Darlington Raceway after a late-race incident.

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NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts

Practice Notes - Kansas

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified     Kansas*
1     Jimmie Johnson     5/1     3rd     12th     1st     3rd
Notes: Strong average times in practice coupled with current 2012 form make him driver to beat.

2     Dale Earnhardt, Jr.     12/1     2nd     7th     7th     7th
Notes: Had top practice 2 speeds among drivers in race trim; quick average; using Charlotte chassis.

3     Denny Hamlin     10/1     7th     8th     3rd     1st
Notes: Best 10-consecutive lap average in practice and has win on similar track at Kansas in April.

4     Kyle Busch     7/1     1st     9th     2nd     10th
Notes: Won Inaugural Kentucky race last season; was almost as good off the hauler in practice as 2011.

5     Brad Keselowski     15/1     12th     2nd     8th     11th
Notes: Top average speeds in practice 2; wrecked primary car in practice 1 after altercation with No. 42.

6     Greg Biffle     8/1     20th     3rd     11th     5th
Notes: One of the top performing drivers on all 1.5-mile tracks this season; using All-Star race chassis.

7     Martin Truex, Jr.     25/1     5th     26th     10th     2nd
Notes: Should be able to transfer April Kansas information that saw him lead 173 of 267 laps.

8     Jeff Gordon     12/1     16th     1st     9th     21st
Notes: Third best 10-consecutive lap average in practice; found lots of speed as practice came to close.

9     Kevin Harvick     12/1     8th     21st     4th     6th
Notes: Good average practice speeds; using chassis that Brendan Gaughan drove as No. 33 in Vegas.

10     Tony Stewart     8/1     24th     31st     22nd     13th
Notes: Not one of his best practices, but is using chassis that won Chicagoland and Las Vegas.

* Results from the April 22, 2012 race held at Kansas Speedway. The Kansas and Kentucky facilities both have 1.5-mile tracks with similar banking that mirror a few of the same traits.

Betting Notes: Jimmie Johnson looks like he’s going to be tough to beat, but despite looking strong in a few practices throughout the season, Johnson has also been content with getting top-5 finishes. He’s not a guy you want to mess around with in driver matchups despite the large juicy prices offered to bet against him. Look for a top-3 finish out of him this week.

So who might be the drivers that finish 1-2?

My best guess after watching practices would be Dale Earnhardt Jr, Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch, all of whom looked outstanding in the categories we look for out of practice. Kyle Busch looked fast right off the hauler just like he did last season when he went on to win the inaugural Kentucky race. But the engine troubles that have plagued Busch still count as major negative.

Because of Denny Hamlin’s affiliation with Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing, there also has to be a concern about his engine faltering, but his 10-consecutive average lap times make him hard to resist.

Junior’s swagger in the garage was nothing like we have seen out of him while driving a Hendrick car. He knows he's fast and knows that every driver in the garage knows he's fast. The big difference between now and a few weeks ago is that they all know he can turn good practices into a win like he did at Michigan. He is my top selection to win after everything that happened during Friday’s practice.

The top long shot to consider would be Martin Truex Jr., and he might have odds better than 25-to-1 just because he wasn’t impressive in final practice. He may not have the dominant type of car like he had in Kansas, but we do know they do have some speed tucked away somewhere and we have seen MWR drivers run well at places like Chicagoland and Kansas that are similar to Kentucky.

Brad Keselowski is also a driver that presents some larger odds that should be able to contend Saturday night. It was pretty impressive how quick they were able to get their back-up car dialed in in the final practice after getting only a couple laps in the first session. Juan Pablo Montoya and Keselowski got tangled up in practice and neither was too happy about the incident. Despite a stern warning from NASCAR, we probably haven’t seen the last of flare-ups between the two on the weekend.

Tony Stewart presents great value in matchups again even though he looked awful in practice.

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