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Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Odds and Ends - Charlotte

Charlotte Motor Speedway Data

Chase Race #: 5 of 10
Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-13-12)
Track Size: 1.5-mile
Banking/Turns: 24 degrees
Banking/Straights: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 1,980 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles

Top 12 Driver Rating at Charlotte

Jimmie Johnson 111.0
Kyle Busch 107.5
Kasey Kahne 97.5
Matt Kenseth 95.1
Greg Biffle 92.3
Denny Hamlin 89.3
Carl Edwards 88.4
Joey Logano 88.3
Jeff Gordon 87.7
Mark Martin 87.0
Jeff Burton 84.4
Tony Stewart 83.4

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Tony Stewart, Chevrolet (191.959 mph, 28.131 sec., 10-13-11)
2011 race winner: Matt Kenseth, Ford (146.194 mph, 3:25:37, 10-15-11)
Track qualifying record: Elliott Sadler, Ford (193.216 mph, 27.948 sec., 10-13-05)
Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (160.306 mph, 3:07:31, 10-11-99)

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Charlotte

1 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.5

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.5
-- Led 17 races for 503 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- One top five, one top 10; one pole
-- Average finish of 16.5 in six races
-- Average Running Position of 17.4, 15th-best
-- Driver Rating of 76.8, 21st-best

2 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 MyLowe's Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.6

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 10.7
-- Led 21 races for 1,261 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Six wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 11.8 in 22 races
-- Series-best Average Running Position of 8.2
-- Series-best Driver Rating of 111.0
-- Series-high 488 Fastest Laps Run
-- 1,095 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
-- Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 176.468 mph
-- Series-high 4,599 Laps in the Top 15 (85.6%)
-- Series-high 772 Quality Passes

3 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 102.1

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 12 top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 12.2
-- Led 21 races for 1,132 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Two top fives, seven top 10s
-- Average finish of 15.0 in 14 races
-- Average Running Position of 13.5, fifth-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.3, sixth-best
-- 142 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.376 mph, 10th-fastest
-- 3,446 Laps in the Top 15 (69.3%), fifth-most
-- 565 Quality Passes, sixth-most

4 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 94.5

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 13.6
-- Led 9 races for 262 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Four wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.7 in 17 races
-- Average Running Position of 12.7, fourth-best
-- Driver Rating of 97.5, third-best
-- 453 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
-- 1,206 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.443 mph, eighth-fastest
-- 3,402 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), sixth-most
-- 651 Quality Passes, fourth-most

5 - Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women Toyota)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.3

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, seven top fives, 18 top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.5
-- Led 10 races for 200 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- One top five, three top 10s
-- Average finish of 17.5 in 13 races
-- Average Running Position of 18.5, 20th-best
-- Driver Rating of 77.4, 18th-best

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.4

2012 Rundown
-- One win, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 14.3
-- Led 19 races for 458 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; eight poles
-- Average finish of 15.7 in 39 races
-- Average Running Position of 16.0, 12th-best
-- Driver Rating of 87.7, ninth-best
-- 176 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.523 mph, sixth-fastest
-- 3,001 Laps in the Top 15 (55.9%), eighth-most
-- 551 Quality Passes, ninth-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.7

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 13.5
-- Led 14 races for 420 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 14.0 in 27 races
-- Average Running Position of 16.0, 13th-best
-- Driver Rating of 83.4, 12th-best
-- 182 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
-- 1,121 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.515 mph, seventh-fastest
-- 2,730 Laps in the Top 15 (50.8%), 11th-most
-- 508 Quality Passes, 11th-most

8 - Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.8

2012 Rundown
-- Six top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.3
-- Led 11 races for 423 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Two top 10s
-- Average finish of 19.4 in 14 races
-- Average Running Position of 18.0, 17th-best
-- Driver Rating of 73.3, 25th-best
-- 1,079 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most

9 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M/IDG Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 101.0

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 10.1
-- Led 15 races for 650 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Four top fives, seven top 10s
-- Average finish of 17.1 in 19 races
-- Average Running Position of 14.5, eighth-best
-- Driver Rating of 92.3, fifth-best
-- 282 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
-- 1,061 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.669 mph, third-fastest
-- 3,385 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0%), seventh-most
-- 576 Quality Passes, fifth-most

10 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.1

2012 Rundown
-- Four top fives, 11 top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.9
-- Led 8 races for 241 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- One win, two top fives, seven top 10s
-- Average finish of 18.1 in 23 races
-- Average Running Position of 19.5, 24th-best
-- Driver Rating of 74.9, 24th-best
-- 1,153 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
-- 2,508 Laps in the Top 15 (46.7%), 13th-most

11 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.6

2012 Rundown
-- One win, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 10.3
-- Led 13 races for 358 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 18.8 in 26 races
-- Average Running Position of 20.3, 25th-best
-- Driver Rating of 78.8, 17th-best
-- 146 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
-- 1,228 Green Flag Passes, second-most
-- 487 Quality Passes, 12th-most

12 - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Best Buy Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.8

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.2
-- Led 19 races for 398 laps

Charlotte Motor Speedway Outlook:
-- Two wins, seven top fives, 14 top 10s
-- Average finish of 14.2 in 26 races
-- Average Running Position of 14.4, seventh-best
-- Driver Rating of 95.1, fourth-best
-- 294 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
-- 1,126 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 175.586 mph, fourth-fastest
-- 3,482 Laps in the Top 15 (64.8%), fourth-most
-- 655 Quality Passes, third-most

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

2012 Charlotte Bank of America 500 Storylines

Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the halfway mark of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. A wild Talladega race – nothing unexpected there – allowed Brad Keselowski to increase his standings lead to 14 points over five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and 23 points over Denny Hamlin.

The points leader after the first four races of the post season has become champion five times in the Chase era.

Johnson is the active king of Charlotte’s 1.5-mile track – six wins – but finished 11th in May’s Coca-Cola 600, a race won by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Keselowski’s fifth-place finish marked his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top five at CMS. Hamlin finished second.

Matt Kenseth, the Talladega winner, won last year’s Charlotte Bank of America 500.

Five races remain on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule beginning with Friday’s Dollar General 300. Elliott Sadler holds a nine-point advantage over reigning series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Austin Dillon is third, 25 points behind Sadler.

With two off weeks on the schedule, Parker Kligerman has time to savor his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway. Kligerman became the season’s record, eighth first-time winner. Championship leaders Ty Dillon and James Buescher both logged top-five finishes at Talladega as Dillon retains a single-point advantage when racing resumes Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Keselowski Adds To Lead As Chase Nears Half Distance

Brad Keselowski is in a good place; the first to hold the points lead in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ and headed for Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he collected his first top-five finish at the track in May’s Coca-Cola 600. Keselowski’s seventh-place finish on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway was his 13th top 10 in his most recent 14 starts and 19th overall.

This Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 marks halfway in the 2012 Chase as Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 14 points and Denny Hamlin by 23. The standings leader after four races has gone on to win the championship five times in the Chase era – Kurt Busch (2004), Tony Stewart (2005) and Johnson (2008-10). Reigning champion Stewart stood seventh a year ago after Race No. 4, 19 points behind Carl Edwards.

Coca-Cola 600 Winner Kahne Stands Out Among Recent Charlotte Winners

There have been eight consecutive different winners at Charlotte Motor Speedway although one name stands out: Kasey Kahne. The first-year Hendrick Motorsports competitor won May’s Coca-Cola 600 and is the most recent to win twice (2008) at the track. Kahne has four victories overall and owns the third-best Driver Rating (97.5) at the 1.5-mile intermediate track behind Johnson (111.0) and Kyle Busch (107.5). He ranks fourth in Chase standings, 36 points behind Keselowski.

Eight of May’s Coca-Cola 600’s top-10 finishers ultimately qualified for the Chase. Hamlin finished second with Greg Biffle fourth and Keselowski fifth. Johnson was 11th. He shares the most Charlotte wins (six) with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.

Talladega Winner Kenseth Lags In Chase But Defends In Charlotte

Despite Sunday’s Talladega victory, Matt Kenseth remains a long-shot in search of his second NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Kenseth is 12th, 62 points out of the Chase lead but comes to Charlotte as the defending winner of the Bank of America 500. A two-time Charlotte winner, the driver of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 Ford finished 10th in May. Each of NASCAR’s four manufacturers has scored at least one victory in the track’s most recent seven races.

Busch Wouldn’t Be Surprise Bank of America Party Crasher

It’s difficult to think of Kyle Busch as a "spoiler" but the currently 13th-ranked driver certainly fits the profile this week. Busch has won 10 NASCAR national series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway although he’s yet to visit the track’s Victory Lane in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car. He’s done everything but, posting second or third-place finishes in four of his last five starts. Busch has led 793 laps at Charlotte and boasts a second–best Driver Rating of 107.5. Busch’s third-place Talladega finish was his second top five in four Chase races.

Mark Joey Logano as another non-Chase qualifier with solid marks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logano posted top-10 finishes in four of his first five appearances at the track. Until May, when he finished 23rd, Logano had completed every lap of six Charlotte appearances.

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Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

KEVIN HARVICK ON CHARLOTTE: “Charlotte (Motor Speedway) is a track where we haven’t excelled performance-wise in the past. We won the May race there last season, but overall I just never had a great feel for that track. There is nothing wrong with the surface or the shape of the track; we just haven’t gotten the consistent results we would have liked there.”

HARVICK ON DIFFERENCES AT CHARLOTTE FROM SPRING TO FALL: “The main difference is the temperature change. Once night falls during the October race, Charlotte (Motor Speedway) becomes completely different than what we practice on during the day. You can bet on the fact that the track will be really fast as the temperature drops and we’ll gain a lot of grip.”

HARVICK ON PREVIOUSLY STATING CHARLOTTE IS NOT ONE HIS FAVORITE TRACKS: “It has nothing to do with the facility or the people or anything like that. Charlotte (Motor Speedway) is just a place that’s been tough for me to totally understand the feel that I need in the car to make it go fast and be competitive. We’ve continued to make improvements in our performance each time we go back and have collected some decent finishes, including our 2011 Coca-Cola 600 win.” (Note: Harvick has finished eighth or better in his past four Charlotte starts)

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.404 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Charlotte 500. Built new for competition in 2012, this Chevrolet will make its first competitive laps this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

JEFF BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 359 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This No. 31 Chevrolet has been utilized twice during the 2012 NSCS season at Bristol Motor Speedway in March where Burton piloted the RCR machine to a top-10 finish (sixth-place) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where a broken brake rotor late in the race relegating the team to a 32nd-place finish.

CLINT BOWYER ON CHARLOTTE: “This race at Charlotte is huge – for everybody. Not just for the drivers, but for the team owner, the crew – this is home for all of them. A win here right in your own back yard – it doesn’t get a whole lot bigger than that.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary chassis No. 740 finished 10th at Chicago in its only race of the year. Backup chassis No. 716 raced earlier this season in Las Vegas, Kansas, Charlotte, Kentucky and Indianapolis. Chassis No. 716’s best finish was sixth at Las Vegas.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON CHARLOTTE: “I always look forward to this race. I especially like racing this close to our home and the race shop. This is another race where I have a lot of friends and family that come in for the weekend. It’s kind of a home game for all of us. I really like the track schedule and enjoy qualifying on Thursday night. It’s always a neat qualifying session. With the weather we have been having, the track is going to be lightning fast. Charlotte has been a challenge for this NAPA team so we have a little work to do. I think we are still very capable of going into it this weekend with a chance to contend for the race win and have the NAPA Toyota up front.”

GREG BIFFLE ON CHARLOTTE: “I’m excited to be at home this week and racing at Charlotte. We ran well there in the spring and led a lot of laps. We also ran well there in the fall last year, so maybe this weekend will be our first Chase win. Charlotte changes the most out of any track we race at from evening to night. We’ve been fast, but as the rubber gets down the handling changes. We’ve got to stay up with the track to win there Saturday night.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-817 Last ran Chicago – finished 13th; Backup: RK-803 Last ran Pocono – finished 15th

CARL EDWARDS ON CHARLOTTE: “We just couldn’t catch a break in Talladega, but we head to Charlotte Motor Speedway this week where we have had success. The strategy is the same. We will just go for it and do everything we can to put our Kellogg’s Ford in to victory lane. It’s a fast mile and a half and the track is very challenging. It’s an important race for the team. It will be exciting and the atmosphere is always intense under the lights in front of family, friends and the home crowd. We just need to go in there and win.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The 99 team will be bringing chassis RK-782 to CMS. This car was last raced at Atlanta where Edwards was running in the top 10 when he had engine issues.

MATT KENSETH ON CHARLOTTE: “Charlotte this weekend is really about car set-up and being able to get your car through the corner along with great race strategy. We’re taking this Chase one race at a time right now, and we’re going to go out and win some races to hopefully start climbing our way up in the points. Charlotte has been a pretty good track for us lately. I’m looking forward to getting in there this weekend and seeing how our stuff performs compared to the competition. I’m really curious to get there and look at how we’ll be competitive because typically it’s been a great track for us in the past.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-821 (Last run at Chicago)

ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 742 for Charlotte. This chassis has run previously this year at Dover, Chicago, Pocono and Darlington.

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Bank of America 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts

Talladega sure lived up to the billing as being the one race in the Chase to shuffle the deck as 24 cars were involved in a last lap melee, that included several Chase drivers. Brad Keselowski was one of the beneficiaries of the 'big one' as he increased his lead over Jimmie Johnson from five to 14 points. Denny Hamlin slid back from 16 points coming in, to now being 23 points behind.

Only six races remain and it's starting to look like Keselowski has some traction. We all keep trying to find reasons why he won't win a Championship or why a number of others drivers will win it, but the races are diminishing and he's still there on top and increasing his lead.

"Having a 14-point lead heading into Charlotte is pretty big, for sure," said Keselowski, who is 5-to-2 to win the Championship. "Once we are done at Charlotte, we'll be halfway through the Chase, and while there is still a lot of racing left to go, it's better than having to dig out of a hole.

One driver who gained the most from the wreck was Jeff Gordon, who finished second behind Matt Kenseth. He moved up four positions to sixth in points and has now finished third or better on six of his past seven tracks raced on as he heads to Charlotte this week. If he would have had the same type of finish at Chicago, he'd be close to leading in points right now. He finished 35th in that race, but four runner-ups and two third-places in his last seven starts is pretty amazing stuff and why is he is our feature driver to watch this week.
One of the best reference tools when trying to identify who the top drivers at Charlotte will be is looking at what happened on the season at the races on it's sister tracks, Atlanta and Texas. All three tracks are 1.5-mile high banked tracks that run similar. Each has it's own trait that make it unique, but the set-ups for races on all three are pretty similar. If a driver was fast in any one of those races, there's a pretty good chance they'll be fast in the next one.

The Texas race was run in April and may have the least amount of relevance here just because it was so long ago. The first Charlotte race run in late May is a must reference, but perhaps the most telling information is what we saw last month in Atlanta, just because it's the most recent.

Gordon finished second in that Atlanta race was the second race of his incredible run that not only helped him make the Chase, but now become a new contender to win it all. He's won five times at Charlotte, including his first career win in 1994, and the last coming in 2007. He finished seventh in the May race at Charlotte and for good measure, finished fourth at Texas. Because of how well his team is clicking right now, he should be considered one of the drivers to beat Sunday.

"I am really looking forward to this weekend's race - this is as excited as I've been heading into Charlotte in quite a while," said Gordon. "We had a good car here earlier this year and we've had some strong runs recently.

"We just need to continue to run in the top five and be in position to battle for the win at the end of the race."

The other top-tier driver to beat this week will be Hamlin, who won the Atlanta race last month. Hamlin still looks like the driver to beat in the Championship Chase just because he's been the strongest this season on the type of tracks he'll see in the final six races. In the May Charlotte race, he was runner-up. Then he goes to Kansas, a place he won at in April. Then he's got Martinsville, a place he's won at five times. He finished 12th at Texas, but he's won there twice in his career. He won at Phoenix this season and then he'll close it out at Homestead, a track he's won at before.

"I think our FedEx team is in pretty good shape," Hamlin said. "Obviously, we gave a few points away at Chicago and Dover, but we're still in striking distance. We were able to avoid trouble at Talladega and get a decent finish, and I think we have a good shot of competing for the win almost everywhere we go from here on out. We have wins at five of the last six tracks, and finished second at Charlotte earlier this year. Hopefully, we can do one spot better than that Saturday night."

Everything points to Hamlin being the front-runner to winning the Championship, however, the value is almost gone now. Last week he was 7-to-2. This week he's the 7-to-4 co-favorite with Johnson. He's still a good play, though, despite the loss in value.

Kasey Kahne also was a beneficiary of the wreck at Talladega and moved up two positions to fourth, only 36 points from the lead. Kahne won at Charlotte in May and has been one of the most consistent drivers in the series since finishing runner-up at Kentucky in late June. The bad luck that plagued his team at the beginning of the season is a thing of the past.

Johnson used to dominate Charlotte. He's won there six times over his career, but only once (2009) in his past 13 starts. Almost simultaneously, when Charlotte Motor Speedway dropped the Lowe's sponsorship, Johnson -- sponsored by Lowe's -- seemed to be just a regular driver on the track and not the super freak that at one point won five of six races there. He's had finishes of 28th or worse in three of his past five starts. His best finish this season on the high-banked, 1.5-mile sister tracks was runner-up at Texas, way back in April, and was outside of the top-10 at Charlotte and Atlanta.

If we include all seven of the races run on 1.5-mile tracks this season, including the flatter tracks at Las Vegas, Kentucky, Kansas, and Chicago, only one driver has finished in the top-10 in all seven -- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. These tracks have been his bread and butter this season, but he still hasn't been fast enough to win at.

Martin Truex, Jr. has to get consideration for this race simply because he dominated the Atlanta race, but his lead was taken away because of a late caution. On the restart of the green-white-checker finish, he was toast. But the power was there to put him in that position and it's likely to be there again this week.

Kyle Busch is considered one of the favorites this week due to finishing third or better in four of his past five Charlotte races. In fact, all the Joe Gibbs cars figure to be good this week. Yes, even Joey Logano.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (10/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (5/1)
3) #5 Kasey Kahne (8/1)
4) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
5) #2 Brad Keselowski (8/1)

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Charlotte
By: Pete Pistone’s Pete Pistone takes a look at some of the field for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Who's HOT at Charlotte

Kyle Busch: The Joe Gibbs Racing driver comes to Charlotte off a third-place finish in Talladega. Busch has the best average finish of any driver over the last 10 CMS races at 6.6.

Kasey Kahne: The Coca-Cola 600 winner back in May, Kahne has been a perennial favorite at Charlotte during his Sprint Cup career and has a 9.8 average finish dating back to 2007.

Denny Hamlin: Has registered four straight top-10 finishes at Charlotte including a second-place performance behind Kahne in the Coca-Cola 600.

Brad Keselowski: Still on top the Chase standings heading to the halfway point on the schedule. Keselowski only has a 16.5 average Charlotte finish but did come home fifth back in May.

Kevin Harvick: Charlotte has been good for the Richard Childress Racing driver in recent outings with four straight top-10 finishes including a win back last season.

Who’s NOT

Jimmie Johnson: The track Johnson formerly called “his house” hasn’t been very welcoming in recent years. Johnson has a 17.5 average finish in his last 10 Charlotte starts and only two top five’s dating back to 2007.

Sam Hornish Jr.: Not much for the Penske Racing driver to brag about with a best performance of 13th and an average finish of 24.7.

Juan Pablo Montoya: The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver is going to have to change a downward Charlotte trend that has added up to a 23.9 average finish over Montoya’s last 10 outings.

Martin Truex Jr.: His championship chances have all but evaporated and the Michael Waltrip Racing driver has one top-10 in his last 10 Charlotte starts.

Paul Menard: Had a burst of Charlotte success with Richard Petty Motorsports but has a single top-10 finish since 2007.

Keep an Eye On at Charlotte

Regan Smith: Tabbed by Hendrick Motorsports to pinch-hit for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will sit out at least two weeks after suffering a concussion in last week’s Talladega crash. Smith was supposed to start in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 Chevrolet.

AJ Allmendinger: Returns to NASCAR after his substance abuse policy suspension from earlier in the year. The former Penske Racing driver slides into the Phoenix Racing seat vacated by Smith.

Kurt Busch: Begins the next phase of his career with Furniture Row Racing. Busch started the year with James Finch and Phoenix Racing and will get a jump-start on 2013 in the No. 78 car.

Jamie McMurray: Has won the October Charlotte race twice in his career, the first coming in 2002 as a fill-in for the injured Sterling Marlin and again for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2010.

Carl Edwards: His disappointing season could end on a positive note with a win in Charlotte, where he has scored two straight top-10 finishes. Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Jeff Gordon

Pete Pistone: Kasey Kahne

John Singler: Jimmie Johnson

Ricky Hamber: Jamie McMurray

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

Bank of America 500 Preview
By Greg Engle

Fall is in the air and people all around America have been celebrating Homecoming. The same can be said for NASCAR as the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway this week and Saturday nights Bank of America 500. Most of the teams that race in NASCAR call Charlotte home and while a win is a big deal anywhere, it’s more so here. Throw in the fact that we’re at the halfway point of NASCAR’s ten race Chase and Saturday night could bring a wild night of racing.

The top three drivers in the Chase are slowly separating themselves from the rest of the field. But several others outside the top three are still well within striking distance.

Brad Keselowski emerged from the chaos last week at Talladega still in control of first place. Looking at his record at Charlotte he may be looking to be not much more than a survivor Saturday night. He was fifth here in May, but in the five races prior to that he finished outside the top 15 and was 12th in his first start in 2009. Keselowski does have one advantage over the field moving past Charlotte.

“Having a 14-point lead heading into Charlotte is pretty big, for sure,” Keselowski said. “Once we are done at Charlotte we’ll be halfway through the Chase, and while there is still a lot of racing left to go, it’s better than having to dig out of a hole.”

He may not be the favorite this week, but Keselowski could surprise.

“Charlotte is a place where the results don’t necessarily show how much this team has improved there,” he said. “We were finally able to break through with a top-five finish back in May. We should be even better this time around. Our record this year on the intermediate tracks is very solid.”

Jimmie Johnson wasn’t lucky enough to survive Talladega unscathed. Johnson was caught up in a 25 car crash on the final lap and finished in 17th. Looking forward to Saturday night Johnson is hoping to find some of the old magic that once had this track being called the ‘House that Jimmie built’. Johnson has six wins here, five of those coming in the period from 2003-2005. He swept both races in 2004 and 2005. But while he did win again in 2009, in the last five races here he has only one top five finish, a third in 2010. The others were forgettable finishes outside the top 10, including an 11th here in May.

Johnson knows exactly when he lost the old magic, but still has the confidence to find it again.

“When they repaved it, it changed things and kind of equalized the field,” Johnson said. “And we’ve been very competitive. Last year, we had probably the best car and one of the top two or three cars, and I just crashed late after trying to overcome some pit strategy issues we had. So, I feel good. I love that track. We won the All-Star Race and ran very well in the 600, so I feel like we’ll be there and be a threat and I need to be at this time of the year. We need to be on top of things.”

Denny Hamlin left Talladega in relatively good shape. He avoided the carnage at the end and came home 14th. He’s only 20 points out of first. He was ninth in this race last year and second here in May. Hamlin makes the favorites list this week and could further shake up the Chase standings with a win Saturday night.

Kasey Kahne won here in May and is a favorite to win again Saturday night. He was fourth in this race last year. He has the third highest driver rating in the field, the second among the Chase field and the highest average finish among the Chase field. Kahne was the last driver to sweep both races accomplishing that feat in 2006 and he’s a pretty good bet to do it again with a second victory Saturday night.

Clint Bowyer is probably the last driver in the Chase field to have a shot at winning it all. However it will take more than one win and some bad luck for those in front of him. And it doesn’t appear he will have much luck Saturday night. Bowyer has only one finish in the top ten in his last five races here and a driver rating of 77.4, 18th-best among the entire field. He was 13th here in May and will be lucky to improve on that Saturday night.

Jeff Gordon is the one dark horse in the field that could steal the entire show. After finishing second last week at Talladega, Gordon vaulted to the sixth position. But he will need to step up his game and hope for disaster from others. His recent record at Charlotte doesn’t bode well; in the last five races Gordon does have two top ten’s but struggled in the other three races finishing outside the top 20 including a 21st in this race last year. He was seventh here in May and he does have five career wins here so there’s hope, but not much.

Tony Stewart has one top 10 finish in his last five races and was 25th here in May. He has an 83.4 driver rating, among the lowest in the Chase. At 43 points out of first a repeat championship is probably out of reach but he could make some noise and win another race or two before seasons end, but don’t look for one of those wins to come here Saturday night.

Martin Truex Jr. seems to be just along for the ride in the Chase and that shouldn’t change Saturday night. He has a driver rating of 73.3, 25th-best and has finished outside the top 10 in his last five races here and was outside the top 15 in four of those.

Greg Biffle was a strong fourth here in May but prior to that has only one other top five in his last five races. But with a driver rating of 92.3, fifth-best, Biffle could be a surprise and should run up near the front Saturday night.

Kevin Harvick has been on a downward trend since the Chase began. He was eighth here in May and could find salvation Saturday night. He won here last May and has finished in the top ten in four of his last five races here. He does have a driver rating of 74.9, which is 24th-best, but should run near the front and could score a second career victory here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having a Chase he’d rather forget. After being swept up in the big crash last week, he fell four spots. Early Thursday we learned that Earnhardt suffered a concussion and will sit out this weeks race and next weeks event at Kansas. Better luck next year.

Matt Kenseth won his second race of the season last week but it’s too little too late. Kenseth will try desperately to improve his position before seasons end. He was 10th here in May and won this race last season. He has a driver rating of 95.1, fourth-best in the field, and could very well be a contender Saturday night. His only liability is five DNFs. but if he can avoid trouble he could easily add a third season win Saturday night.


Kyle Busch has finished outside the top five in only one of his last five races; the others were no worse than third. Busch has never won at Charlotte but has come oh so close on many occasions. He could finally seal the deal Saturday night.

Keep an eye on: Marcos Ambrose struggled to a 32nd place finish in May, but was fifth here last year and sixth in last May’s race. He could shock the field with a win if everything falls in place Saturday night.

Bottom Line:

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


Denny Hamlin
Kasey Kahne
Kevin Harvick

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Re: Bank of America 500 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings    
By Micah Roberts

This Week's Race: Bank of America 500

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Qualified     Practice 2     Practice 3
1     Denny Hamlin     5/1     1st     9th     15th     6th
Career best runner-up in May Coca-Cola 600; best 10-consecutive lap average in final practice.

2     Kyle Busch     7/1     6th     8th     14th     1st
Finished third or better in four of past five Charlotte starts; third-place in Coca-Cola 600.

3     Kasey Kahne     8/1     8th     10th     2nd     9th
Four-time winner, including Coca-Cola 600 in May; using third-place Michigan chassis.

4     Jimmie Johnson     5/1     9th     5th     4th     4th
Six-time winner, but only one win in past 13 starts; using winning All-Star race chassis.

5     Brad Keselowski     8/1     10th     20th     7th     8th
Career best fifth-place in May; two 1.5-mile track wins in 2012; using Brickyard chassis.

6     Mark Martin     25/1     2nd     2nd     5th     3rd
Four-time winner, the last in 2002; second fastest 10-consecutive lap average in practice 2.

7     Regan Smith     30/1     8th     26th     8th     2nd
Takes over No. 88 car, the only car to finish 10th or better at all 1.5-mile tracks this season.

8     Greg Biffle     12/1     16th     1st     1st     18th
Runner-up in 2008; fourth-place in May race; using chassis that last ran at Chicago.

9     Jeff Gordon     10/1     5th     13th     10th     13th
Five-time winner, including first career win in 1994; third or better on past six of seven tracks.

10     Tony Stewart     15/1     17th     32nd     16th     12th
2003 winner; top 10-consecutive lap average in Practice 2; using sixth-place Chicago chassis.

Note: The high-banked 1.5-mile sister tracks of Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta have all had races run on this season and the results offer a great barometer to use in finding top candidates to win tonight.

Betting Notes: Kyle Busch may have looked a little better than Denny Hamlin throughout Friday’s practices, but Hamlin gets the nod because of his past body of work and also his 10-consecutive lap average in in the final session. Busch’s recent history at Charlotte has been spectacular and he looks like a driver that is sure to eventually get his first win on the track sooner than later.

Jimmie Johnson was also looking racey during practices, but it’s hard to get past the image of him finishing 28th or worse in three of his past five Charlotte starts.

The driver I’m most excited about is Regan Smith, who was outstanding in both Friday sessions, including having the second best 10-consecutive lap average in the final session behind Hamlin. The No. 88 car has been impressive on these types of tracks all season and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith compete for the win.

We saw a similar situation at Charlotte in the 2002 fall race where a young Jamie McMurray took over Sterling Marlin’s dominant ride and won in his second career start.

Can you imagine the bitter-sweet taste in Junior Nation’s mouth if Smith were to come in and take Junior’s car to a win in his first crack at it?

The LVH Super Book had offered Regan Smith at 500-to-1 odds early in the week and when it was announced that he wouldn’t taking over the No. 88, the odds dropped down to 30-to-1. The LVH confirmed that they do have a few wagers at 500-to-1 simply because bettors take a crack at him every week since he won at the same odds last season at Darlington.

Jeff Gordon didn’t do anything special in practice and may be a driver to find some good value on in matchups.

The best longshot value rests with Mark Martin.

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