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Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

Pennsylvania 400 Odds & Ends

Pocono Raceway Data

Race #: 21 of 36 (08-05-12)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 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 117.6
Jimmie Johnson 106.7
Kurt Busch 105.8
Jeff Gordon 100.3
Tony Stewart 99.3
Carl Edwards 97.1
Ryan Newman 94.9
Mark Martin 94.8
Kevin Harvick 90.8
Matt Kenseth 89.3
Kasey Kahne 89.3
Jeff Burton 88.6

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) at Pocono Raceway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Joey Logano, Toyota (172.055 mph, 52.309 sec., 08-06-11)

2011 race winner: Brad Keselowski, Dodge (137.878 mph, 3:37:35, 08-07-11)

Track qualifying record: Joey Logano, Toyota (179.598 mph, 50.112 sec., 06-10-12)

Track race record (500 miles): Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (145.384 mph, 3:26:21, 06-12-11)

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Re: Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver's Tale of the Tape at Pocono

Jeff Burton (No. 31 Enersys Chevrolet)

· Seven top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 14.0, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 88.6, 12th-best
· 1,241 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· 1,849 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3%), eighth-most
· 581 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most

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

· Two wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.5
· Average Running Position of 10.6, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 105.8, third-best
· 299 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.966 mph, third-fastest
· 2,029 Laps in the Top 15 (74.8%), seventh-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

· Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 13.6
· Driver Rating of 97.1, sixth-best
· 169 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.626 mph, seventh-fastest

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

· Five wins, 17 top fives, 27 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.4
· Average Running Position of 10.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 100.3, fourth-best
· 106 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.770 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,159 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), third-most
· 660 Quality Passes, third-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)

· Four wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 9.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 8.6
· Series-best Driver Rating of 117.6
· Series-high 426 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 160.346 mph
· 2,043 Laps in the Top 15 (82.7%), sixth-most

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

· Five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.8, ninth-best
· Series-high 1,324 Green Flag Passes
· 630 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

· Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 8.8
· Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.7, second-best
· 213 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.987 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 2,278 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%)
· 686 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)

· One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.7
· Average Running Position of 14.4, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.3, 11th-best
· 176 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,267 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)

· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.9
· Average Running Position of 13.6, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.3, 10th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.439 mph, ninth-fastest
· 638 Quality Passes, fifth-most

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

· 20 top fives, 34 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.1
· Average Running Position of 11.9, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 94.8, eighth-best
· 81 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.648 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,055 Laps in the Top 15 (71.5%), fifth-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 94.9, seventh-best
· 1,193 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· 2,190 Laps in the Top 15 (76.2%), second-most
· Series-high 715 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot Back To School Chevrolet)

· Two wins, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.5
· Average Running Position of 11.9, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 99.3, fifth-best
· 80 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,278 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 159.636 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,075 Laps in the Top 15 (72.2%), fourth-most
· 658 Quality Passes, fourth-most

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Re: Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

Pennsylvania 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts

Because of all the data from recent races at the similar tracks of Pocono and the Brickyard, bettors have perhaps their greatest advantage over Las Vegas sports books out of any race on the season this week at Pocono. The edge comes from utilizing all the data given to us in those two races run within the last six weeks. Because the span between those two races and this week's race is so short, everything is relevant, current and ready to rock and reload again.

Pocono and Indianapolis are both 2.5-mile tracks with different configurations -- Pocono has three turns in a triangular shape, they both are the same in regards to required horsepower to get down the long straightaways and both require similar balance setups. When watching the Brickyard race last Sunday, it was amazing at how telling the June Pocono race was to what was currently happening.

Every calculation came up with using Pocono as the main initial source of a Brickyard rating system came through as though the race was scripted. Even without a system, anyone could have just looked at Pocono from June and narrowed it down to three or four drivers while comfortably watching all of them run well enough to win.

The objective is obviously to narrow down a driver to win, but there's something more interesting and fulfilling in having a few drivers selected and watching them all run well. It's a sense of accomplishment and keeps your head up high enough to absorb losses in other weeks.

Even a driver like Joey Logano, who won at Pocono but got involved in a wreck at the Brickyard, there was something positive gained despite the poor finish because he was running in the top-10 throughout while still on the track. He was a contender who ran as expected.

Last week we had the testing, practices and race results from Pocono to go off of. This week we have all that, in addition to the two practices and race results from Indy. Nine drivers finished in the top-15 of both races. Those that did well at Pocono, did well at the Brickyard, and they should run well again Sunday at Pocono.

Speed will be the name of the game again this week on the new Pocono surface where we saw all track speed records shattered in June. It will be fast again and the same cast of characters will be the ones to watch from favorites like Jimmie Johnson to Denny Hamlin. Mid-ranged price drivers like Mark Martin and Logano will be fast and live longshots like Paul Menard and Sam Hornish merit consideration.

Martin will be using the same chassis that finished runner-up in June, a race where he set a record for most runner-up finishes (7) on a track without winning a race.

"You're not owed this stuff, man," Martin said. "I've earned all those second-place finishes, and I'm proud of that. You're not entitled. You've got to go get 'em."

Johnson has won twice at Pocono, the last coming in a 2004 sweep, and has finished fourth in the past three races there. Hamlin is a four-time winner and finished fifth there in June, and sixth last week at the Brickyard where he started from the pole.

The surprise entry into the Pocono-Indy alliance category this year is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who took the points lead last week with a fourth-place finish. Junior also finished eighth at Pocono in June. He's never won at Pocono or Indianapolis over his career, but he's also never won a championship and now looks like he's got the muscle to possibly take care of both this year. If you're thinking championship, the LVH has him listed at 10/1 odds.

Nothing is ever easy in trying to pick the winner of a NASCAR race out of 43 drivers, but it's definitely a little easier to sort through when we have a nice cheat sheet to scan at.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #11 Denny Hamlin (8/1)
2) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
3) #55 Mark Martin (18/1)
4) #20 Joey Logano (30/1)
5) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12/1)

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2012 Pennsylvania 400 Driver Notes & Quotes

KEVIN HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 396 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, this RCR racer was utilized by Austin Dillon earlier this season at Michigan International Speedway where he captured a 24th-place finish in his 2012 Sprint Cup Series debut.

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 last seen on track at Pocono Raceway in June where Menard started from the third position and drove to a ninth-place finish. The Eau Claire, Wis., native also raced this Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway in March, finishing 19th after 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. Burton has driven this No. 31 Chevrolet three times this season including the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May (started-22nd, finished-19th), Texas Motor Speedway in April (started-24th, finished 29th) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March (started-22nd, finished 14th).

KURT BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend’s Pennsylvania 400 will be the second race of the 2012 season for this chassis. This is the same car the No. 51 team used during last weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, where Busch was running in the top-10 prior to issues on pit road and, with engine
issues, left with a 36th-place finish. Prior to becoming part of the Phoenix Racing fleet of cars, this chassis was used by the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.

RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: After an impressive debut last weekend in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chassis No. 39-733 will return to the track this weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Newman and his team overcame an ill-handling racecar and used quick pit work to help engineer a run into the top-10.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate team will use Chassis #1106 for Pocono. Chassis #1106 has been raced three times this season: Bristol, finishing seventh, Charlotte for the Sprint Showdown, finishing third, and earlier at Pocono, finishing 10th. This chassis was also raced six times in 2011.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will travel to Pocono with Chassis #1119. This chassis was used in 2011 at Charlotte, finishing 14th, andTexas finishing 18th. Chassis #1119 raced earlier this year at Fontana where it finished 17th, Texas, finishing 16th and Charlotte for the Sprint Showdown, finishing fifth.

CARL EDWARDS ON POCONO: “Since we just ran at Pocono I think we have a pretty good feel for what we were lacking there. We qualified really well and got hit in the first corner and fought back all day. I think we have a pretty good plan for Pocono. The race at Indy helped us try things we want to try for Pocono.”

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 and it also finished 11th at Pocono in June.

MATT KENSETH ON POCONO: “The track surface at Pocono was way better in June with the new surface. I thought they did a great job paving it because one of the big challenges about Pocono used to be how bumpy it was. Usually everyone is against new pavement, including myself, because you think it hurts the racing, but I thought it was better overall. I never did well there in the past, and honestly never really liked the track there before, but I feel like we ran competitive during our race there in June. I don’t remember everything that happened during the race, or what we did to finish seventh, but I am looking forward to going back and trying to improve on that finish this weekend.”

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

GREG BIFFLE ON POCONO: “Well, I’m definitely looking forward to Pocono this weekend for several reasons. It’s always good to go back to a track where you’ve won. Pocono is really more like a road course than a traditional oval so shifting is important to make the car perform properly and allow for better racing. It can be a difficult track because all three corners are completely different which makes handling an obstacle. We can just go there and try to run as well as we did when we won and hope for the same result.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-803 Last ran Kentucky – finished 21st; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON POCONO: “The package we ran at Indy is something I think will work at Pocono. Since NASCAR changed the side skirt rules, we’ve struggled a little bit as a team. We were really onto some stuff at the beginning of the season that was working well for us. Then NASCAR made the rule change and we had to go back to work. The package we ran at Indy was a lot different than what we usually run. I think we made some gains at Indy. It was similar to what Mark (Martin) ran at Pocono and contended for the win. To be honest, we had a fast car at Pocono too. It was remarkable that we finished 20th with a car that had the door taken off of it on the first lap. With that said, I think a top-10 finish or even a chance at the win is a real possibility for us on Sunday.”

MARK MARTIN ON SEVEN SECOND-PLACE FINISHES AT POCONO: “You’re not owed this stuff, man. I’ve earned all those second-place finishes, and I’m proud of that. You’re not entitled. You’ve got to go get ‘em.”

MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Finished second at Pocono in June. Also ran at Kansas and Las Vegas. Backup – 732 has not raced in 2012.

JOEY LOGANO ON POCONO: “As everyone can imagine, I think me and all of the guys on the No. 20 Home Depot team are looking forward to going back to Pocono for obvious reasons. It’s always a pretty cool feeling going back to a track where you were the last race winner and knowing everyone wants to knock you off of that throne. That is really, really cool. I still think about Pocono. It was a great day and a big part of my career. But, in this sport, you can’t look back on things for too long, even race wins, or you will hurt your chances going forward. Yeah, we are going into the Pocono weekend looking to repeat, but we go into every weekend thinking we can win the race. You always just come to the track prepared and go from there.

“You can’t expect to just unload and be right back to where you were. There are a lot of things that go into thecar, the track conditions, the tires and your competitors. You might have the exact same set-up, with the same changes that you made during the race and you might not even be in the ballpark of where you were. The best thing you can do is just go with a better baseline and hopefully you will have less to work on to get it right. In the end, I still think we’ll have a very fast Home Depot Toyota and we’ll be one of the cars to beat. We have to go out there and get another win and keep getting points. It’s going to take at least one more win, maybe two, to get yourself into the Chase. We have to go out there and maybe even take some chances to get some wins. You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit.”

KYLE BUSCH ON THE SHORTER DISTANCE RUN AT POCONO NOW: “I would have liked to have made the whole 400 miles the first time around there this year. But I do think the distance change was a positive one and I hope to be around at the end this time around. You know, certainly sometimes I felt like it might have been a bit long there or drawn out. Now, it might add less of a lull during the middle part of the race. So, you’ll have the beginning and people trying to make moves and get themselves in position. Then you’ll have guys working it and getting themselves in position for the final pit stop and the final run, thereafter. Hopefully, we’ll finally get that win at Pocono with our M&M’s Camry.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-813 during Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Keselowski last raced this chassis to a second-place finish in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Since that race, the car has been updated to the current Penske Racing specification.

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Pennsylvania 400 Preview
By Greg Engle

It’s no longer unknown territory. This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup series returns to Pocono Raceway for Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400; but unlike the stop in June, teams will have notes and experience with the newly paved speedway.

To pick a favorite look no farther back than last week’s stop at the Brickyard and those who did well here in June. The 2.5 mile tracks have similar flat corners and what worked well last week, and in June, should work well this week.

That’s why this week’s favorite has to be Jimmie Johnson. Johnson dominated last week at Indy and there’s no reason the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 juggernaut won’t continue this week.

"I feel that from a performance standpoint, we're as strong as we've ever been,” Johnson said after his record fourth win at the Brickyard. “We've had issues late in a race that's cost us track position for a variety of reasons and that's the part that we need to make sure is buttoned up before the Chase starts and carry that through the Chase.”

Johnson was fourth here in June; in fact he’s finished fourth the last three times the series has visited here. Johnson has two wins and has a pretty good chance adding a third Sunday.

“I am excited to go back [to Pocono] because we had a really strong car there in the last race,” Johnson said. “I think we had a few track position issues to overcome and a two speeding issues, but we still managed a Top 5 finish. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) called a great race. He got me some track position on two tires. The pit stops were flawless and we had a fast car. After last week’s win at the Brickyard the entire team is excited to get to Pocono and keep the momentum going.”

Tony Stewart was third here in June, and tenth last week at Indy. In the June race Stewart looked strong and is an expert in fuel mileage races, something that happens at Pocono a lot. Stewart is eighth in the standings and looking to add another season win to three he has already. Stewart is tied for wins this season with Johnson and could break that tie Sunday.

“It was pretty hard to pass (in June), but it kind of normally is,” Stewart said. “I don't think it was really any worse than it normally is. But seemed like at the end of the race it got pretty racy there and guys could move around a little bit. All in all, for a freshly paved track, it was a pretty good race.

Denny Hamlin was on the pole at Indy last week. Hamlin has four wins at Pocono, only one behind Jeff Gordon who leads all active drivers with five. At one time Hamlin was nearly untouchable here and if he finds his groove Sunday, he could improve on his fifth place in June and tie Gordon with a fifth win.

If anyone knows how to turn a fast lap at Pocono its Hamlin:

"You have to be very disciplined as you enter turn one,” Hamlin said. “They have marks on the side of the wall and you want to discipline yourself to use those marks so you don't overdrive the corner. You try to get all the exit speed off of (turn) two as you can -- you shift into fourth (gear) about 200 yards past turn two to try to get that long run right before you get to the tunnel turn.”

“For my approach, I try to arc into the tunnel turn just as wide as I can to make sure I get that long, low line on the exit of the tunnel to make sure I get a good line into turn three,” he added. “Into turn three, you're just trying to carry all that speed you can because that front straightaway is so important for passing that you have to get position on a guy off of turn three. You want to carry as much throttle as you can, but down shift right in the center of three, make sure you pull the up shift right before you get to the start-finish line."

Party Crasher: Carl Edwards was 11th in June, but as he showed last week at Indy with a second place start, the crew has the speed. If they can keep the car on the track this week he could easily be a factor. After a mechanical disaster last week and the desperation of needing to break a winless streak dating back to the spring of last year, another element motivating Edwards is his all or nothing attitude. His goal is simple, no points racing, winning is the only thing that matters.

"We have to go race. We can do that, we can race like that," said Edwards, who has a pair of Pocono victories. "It will actually be a big relief in a way because there is no other choice. We just go race for wins."

Bottom Line: 14 of 69 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. Joey Logano is the most recent driver to win from the pole; he accomplished that feat in June.

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Re: Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Pocono
By: Jeff Wackerlin

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

Who's HOT at Pocono

• Two-time winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with an 8.8 average finish.
• Five-time winner Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with 957 laps led.
• Four-time winner Denny Hamlin is coming off his eighth top-five finish.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers with 34 top-10 finishes.
• Tony Stewart has finished third or better in five of the last eight races, including a win in the 2009 June race.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., who led 36 laps in June, has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts.

Keep an Eye On at Pocono

• Joey Logano, who will be shooting for his third consecutive pole at Pocono, won the June race after leading 49 laps.
• Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski, who each finished in the top 10 last weekend at Indianapolis, have won the last two August Pocono races, respectively.
• Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch each have finished in the top five in three of their last five starts.
• Ryan Newman (11.0), Carl Edwards (12.1), Mark Martin (12.2), Matt Kenseth (12.5) and Clint Bowyer (13.2) each rank in the top 10 among all drivers in average finish in the last 10 races at Pocono.
• Kasey Kahne, who was the fastest driver in Pocono testing in June, was running in the top 10 in his Pocono debut with Hendrick Motorsports until a cut tire late in the race took him out of contention.
• Paul Menard has finished in the top 10 in his last two starts at Pocono.
• Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray each finished in the top 10 at Pocono in June. Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Denny Hamlin
Ricky Hamber: Denny Hamlin
John Singler: Greg Biffle

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Has finished in the top 10 in last three starts; Only other top 10 in nine starts with Hendrick Motorsports came in the 2008 June race in fourth; Led 36 laps in June; Posted two runner-up finishes with Dale Earnhardt Inc; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 726) that he finished eighth with at Pocono in June.

Matt Kenseth: Coming off second top 10 in the last eight races; 13.9 average finish and 50 laps led in 25 starts; Ninth-best average finish (12.5) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 810) that he started 14th and finished seventh with at Pocono in June.

Greg Biffle: Winner of this event in 2010; Recorded fourth top 10 in 18 starts with an eighth-place finish last year in this event; Led 19 laps and finished 24th in June; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 803) that he finished 21st with at Kentucky Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson: Swept both races in 2004; Has finished in the top 10 in last five starts; Leads all drivers with an 8.8 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 681) that he finished fourth with at Pocono Raceway in June. This is also the same car that he scored wins at Darlington Raceway and Kansas Speedway with.

Denny Hamlin: Last of four wins came in the 2010 June race; 9.3 average finish and 660 laps led in 13 starts; Sixth-best average finish (11.3) in the last 10 races.

Kevin Harvick: Fifth-place finish in the 2011 June race was the last in a streak of three consecutive top fives; Fifth-best average finish (11.1) in the last 10 races; Has finished 14th in his last two starts; Has only led five laps in 23 starts; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 396) that Austin Dillon finished 24th with at Michigan International Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr: 15.2 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Last of four top 10s came in the 2011 June race in 10th.

Tony Stewart: Last of two wins came in the 2009 June race; 7.3 average finish in seven starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Second-best average finish (9.4) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 722) that he finished third with at Pocono in June.

Brad Keselowski: Defending race winner: Win is only finish inside the top 15 in five starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 813) that he finished second with in the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Clint Bowyer: Finished sixth in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in June; Finish was sixth top 10 in 13 starts; 15.7 average finish and 91 laps led; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 733) that he raced at Pocono in June.

Kyle Busch: Posted a 2.5 average finish in the 2011 races; Finished 30th in June; Three finishes of third or better in nine starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Has combined to lead 61 laps in his last five starts.

Carl Edwards: Last of two wins came in the 2008 August race; Scored seventh top 10 in 15 starts last year in this event; Seventh-best average finish (12.1) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 815) that he finished 11th with at Pocono in June.

Kasey Kahne: Won the 2008 June race with Gillett Evernham Motorsports; 17.7 average finish in 16 starts; Finished 29th after a crash in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in June; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 724) that he won with at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Ryan Newman: Finished in the top 10 in both races last season; 10.1 average finish in seven starts with Stewart Haas Racing; Won the 2003 July race with Penske Racing; Fourth-best average finish (11.0) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 733) that he finished seventh with at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon: Leads all drivers in wins (5) and laps led (957); Third-best average finish (10.4) in the last 10 races; Finished 19th in June.

Paul Menard: Has finished in the top 10 in last two starts; 11.0 average finish in three starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 384) that he started third and finished ninth with at Pocono in June.

Joey Logano: Won the June race after leading 49 laps; Win was first top 10 in seven starts; Will be shooting for third consecutive pole; 18.0 average finish.

Marcos Ambrose: 22.3 average finish in three starts with Richard Petty Motorsports; Lone top 10 (sixth) came in the 2009 June race with JTG Daugherty Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 735) that he finished 32nd with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jamie McMurray: Coming off fourth top 10 in 19 starts; 21.7 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1106) that he finished 10th with at Pocono in June.

Jeff Burton: Finished in the top 10 in both events in 2010; 11th-best average finish (13.4) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 385) that he last finished 19th with at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Re: Pennsylvania 400 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts

This Week's Race: Pennsylvania 400

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified     Brickyard*
1     Jimmie Johnson     7/1     1st     10th     10th     1st
Notes: Swept 2004 season; track best 8.8 average finish in 21 starts; chassis has recorded two wins.

2     Kyle Busch     12/1     2nd     4th     20th     2nd
Notes: Career best runner-up last fall; looked to have the best car overall in Friday's practices.

3     Denny Hamlin     5/1     28th     15th     2nd     6th
Notes: Four-time winner, last coming in spring of 2010; starting on front row a huge early advantage.

4     Greg Biffle     12/1     5th     3rd     12th     3rd
Notes: 2010 winner; great practices coming off strong Indy run; using chassis last run at Kentucky.

5     Mark Martin     18/1     9th     11th     18th     11th
Notes: NASCAR record seven-time runner-up without a win; using runner-up Pocono chassis from June.

6     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     8/1     8th     1st     8th     4th
Notes: Five top-5 finishes in 25 starts, three straight top-10's; using eighth-place Pocono chassis.

7     Kasey Kahne     10/1     6th     25th     4th     12th
Notes: 2008 winner; good practices and start position; using winning Coca-Cola 600 chassis from Charlotte.

8     Matt Kenseth     12/1     4th     2nd     7th     35th
Notes: Career best of third-place in 2003; 13.9 average finish; using seventh-place Pocono chassis.

9     Brad Keselowski     20/1     14th     16th     31st     9th
Notes: Won this race last season with broken ankle; using runner-up chassis from All-Star race.

10     Joey Logano     30/1     7th     29th     14th     33rd
Notes: Captured win in June, using same car this week; changed transmission following practice 1.

Note: * Results from last weeks Brickyard 400. Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5 mile layout with long straightaways and flat turns requires a similar set-up at Pocono.

Betting Notes: From everything I saw in practice, Kyle Busch looks to have the best car. The only thing that keeps him from the top rating slot is that Jimmie Johnson is far too consistent -- unless at a restrictor-plate track -- and he also comes off a dominating Brickyard win. It's very convenient for the No. 48 team to just roll off the hauler and be strong because they did it a very similar track last week.

Kyle Busch, on the other hand, has had so many lost opportunities this season because of a multitude of errors that have riddled the team. It was just last June at Pocono when Busch started the race in the second-row and had good clean air with plenty of room to maneuver. He should have been in a great position to contend for the win, but on lap 76 of a scheduled 160 laps, the engine blew on the No. 18. End of day. Thanks for coming. Good luck next time.

That was the second week in a row Busch's engine blew. His runner-up finish last week was his first top-5 since late May when he finished third in the Coca-Cola 600. It's been a long time since Busch had something to smile about, but it looks as though they've gotten something figured out. The momentum from last week is huge and it's why I like Busch the most.

Carl Edwards ran just as well as his Roush teammates, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, but he's on a worse top-5 drought than Busch was. It's been since Fontana in March that Edwards finished in the top-5. He picked up fifth-places at Las Vegas and Fontana, and hasn't been seen there again. It just seems he's more probable to finish 14th than crack the top-10.

Having Edwards being in the role as kamikaze pilot as he desperately tries to hunt down a win to make the Chase with only six chances remaining, he makes it very easy to bet against in driver matchups. The toughest thing about betting against Edwards in matchups is that you know he'll bring the car back in one piece and finish with solid results despite not contending for a win. He should at least be entertaining on the track being overly aggressive.

Denny Hamlin will tough to beat since he's starting up front and will be getting all that clean air. He may be in or near the lead for the first two pit stops, but I do think a handful of cars are better. We've kind of given Hamlin this mystique regarding Pocono because he's won there four times, but really, it's been four races and two years since his last win.

In all those races Hamlin won, he was one of the best in practice. This week, he is not. He just gets the respect because of his past and also good runs at Pocono and Indy this year. If it was based on practice alone, Hamlin would be rated far lower than third.

Two drivers that present a good opportunity this week and large adjusted odds are Joey Logano and Martin, the drivers that finished 1-2 in the June race. They didn't fare well in practice, but I think they got enough notes from the testing and practices from June as well as last week at Indy. I have more reason to believe they're closer to being similar to what they were in June as opposed to what they showed in Friday's practice.

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