TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Martinsville
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Martinsville Speedway Data

Chase Race #: 7 of 10
Season Race #: 33 of 36 (10-28-12)
Track Size: 0.562-mile
Banking/Turns: 12 degrees
Banking/Straights: 0 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 800 feet
Backstretch Length: 800 feet
Race Length: 500 laps / 263 miles

Top 12 Driver Rating at Martinsville

Jimmie Johnson 121.4
Jeff Gordon 120.8
Denny Hamlin 113.4
Tony Stewart 101.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 100.1
Kyle Busch 94.4
Kevin Harvick 93.9
Ryan Newman 90.1
Jeff Burton 88.9
Clint Bowyer 87.9
Jamie McMurray 83.2
Brad Keselowski 82.3

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

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: None Due To Weather
2011 race winner: Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 68.648 mph, (3:49:52), 10-30-11
Track qualifying record: Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 98.083 mph, 19.306 sec., 10-21-05
Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 9-22-96

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Re: TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.9

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.4
-- Led 18 races for 642 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Two top 10s
-- Average finish of 13.4 in five races
-- Average Running Position of 15.2, 13th-best
-- Driver Rating of 82.3, 14th-best
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 90.792 mph, 13th-fastest

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.1

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 10.4
-- Led 23 races for 1,358 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Six wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 5.8 in 21 races
-- Average Running Position of 6.4, second-best
-- Series-best Driver Rating of 121.4
-- 742 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
-- 685 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
-- Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.456 mph
-- Series-high 6,854 Laps in the Top 15 (91.0%)
-- Series-high 542 Quality Passes

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 102.6

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 11.9
-- Led 22 races for 1,168 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 6.4 in 14 races
-- Average Running Position of 8.5, third-best
-- Driver Rating of 113.4, third-best
-- 495 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
-- 683 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 91.289 mph, third-fastest
-- 5,844 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), third-most
-- 457 Quality Passes, fourth-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 94.6

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, eight top fives, 20 top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.0
-- Led 12 races for 234 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- One top five, seven top 10s
-- Average finish of 14.7 in 13 races
-- Average Running Position of 14.0, seventh-best
-- Driver Rating of 87.9, 10th-best
-- 127 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 90.903 mph, ninth-fastest
-- 4,397 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), 10th-most
-- 370 Quality Passes, ninth-most

5 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.5

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles
-- Average finish of 13.1
-- Led 10 races for 263 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- One top five, two top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 21.7 in 17 races
-- Average Running Position of 21.8, 22nd-best
-- Driver Rating of 73.5, 21st-best
-- 162 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.1

2012 Rundown
-- Seven top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.0
-- Led 11 races for 423 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Two top fives, four top 10s
-- Average finish of 21.4 in 13 races
-- Average Running Position of 22.1, 25th-best
-- Driver Rating of 68.4, 24th-best

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.5

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 13.2
-- Led 14 races for 420 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 13.2 in 27 races
-- Average Running Position of 10.3, fourth-best
-- Driver Rating of 101.5, fourth-best
-- 375 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 91.104 mph, fifth-fastest
-- 5,680 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), fifth-most
-- 358 Quality Passes, 11th-most

8 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.8

2012 Rundown
-- One win, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 14.3
-- Led 21 races for 462 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Seven wins, 25 top fives, 31 top 10s; seven poles
-- Average finish of 7.1 in 39 races
-- Series-best Average Running Position of 6.4
-- Driver Rating of 120.8, second-best
-- Series-high 826 Fastest Laps Run
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 91.447 mph, second-fastest
-- 6,775 Laps in the Top 15 (89.9%), second-most
-- 486 Quality Passes, second-most

9 - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 101.5

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.0
-- Led 20 races for 476 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Three top fives, eight top 10s
-- Average finish of 16.0 in 25 races
-- Average Running Position of 17.5, 17th-best
-- Driver Rating of 79.1, 17th-best
-- 764 Green Flag Passes, third-most
-- 3,500 Laps in the Top 15 (46.5%), 13th-most

10 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.5

2012 Rundown
-- Four top fives, 11 top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.0
-- Led 8 races for 241 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s
-- Average finish of 16.0 in 22 races
-- Average Running Position of 14.2, eighth-best
-- Driver Rating of 93.9, seventh-best
-- 186 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 90.911 mph, eighth-fastest
-- 4,773 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), seventh-most
-- 363 Quality Passes, 10th-most

11 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 101.1

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 10.5
-- Led 16 races for 721 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- Two top 10s
-- Average finish of 21.9 in 19 races
-- Average Running Position of 21.8, 24th-best
-- Driver Rating of 67.6, 26th-best
-- 709 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most

12 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/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

Martinsville Speedway Outlook
-- 10 top fives, 14 top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.6 in 25 races
-- Average Running Position of 11.1, fifth-best
-- Driver Rating of 100.1, fifth-best
-- 435 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
-- Series-high 841 Green Flag Passes
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 91.133 mph, fourth-fastest
-- 5,710 Laps in the Top 15 (75.8%), fourth-most
-- 474 Quality Passes, third-most

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Re: TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

TUMS Fast Relief 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

We’ve seen the season sweep at Martinsville four times in the past decade, which includes three straight wins at one juncture by both Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. Drivers that are hot at Martinsville seem to stay hot for two or three years in a row, while also maintaining a strong average finish.

In the case of Denny Hamlin, this week’s 7/2 favorite, the native Virginian has won at Martinsville four times and has a career average of 6.4 over his 14 starts.

Johnson has been even better, maintaining a 5.8 average finish with six wins over his career. In 14 of his past 18 starts, he’s finished fifth or better.

However, in both Hamlin and Johnson’s recent races, they have tailed off from their pure dominance. In Johnson’s past three starts, he’s had two of his worst finishes in the last decade. Finishing 11th and 12th is nothing to be down about, but it sure isn’t close to the bar Johnson raised over the years. The 12th-place finish came in the spring race this season.

Hamlin only has one top-5 finish over his past three Martinsville starts. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, but there is a reason to suggest other contenders might be worth a shot here than in past years, especially when considering Hamlin has that mounting pressure to have to run well this weekend, maybe even win, since he‘s down 20-points in the Chase with four races to go.

I felt I had a good read on Hamlin’s emotions last week as he pulled the reins back on his car at Kansas for fear of the new surface punting his car like it did several others. I had the feeling that if this wasn’t at such a critical juncture of the season, Hamlin had a car good enough to finish in the top-5. Rather than chance it, he laid up and took the safe route. It was probably the smart move, but when you see Johnson with a ninth-place finish in a busted up car -- driving the wheels off it the last half of the race, it makes you wonder about Hamlin’s psyche.

Now, with four races to go, Hamlin almost has to win this race and I don’t know if he’s up for that pressure based on him reliving memories of 2010 failures down the stretch. He won at Martinsville that year -- while leading in points, but faltered at Phoenix and Homestead. There isn’t a better track on the circuit for him to make a statement, but at the same time, I still see him being overly cautious like Kansas, which doesn’t equate to wins.

So I’ve talked myself into throwing out the two favorites, usually a bad thing at Martinsville since only four different drivers have combined to win 16 of the past 19 races, but it's in the past three races there that has me believing we could seeing something different, while staying the same.

That may not make much sense, so let me clarify by referring back to the point about drivers winning in bunches over a short period of time, including the four sweeps.

Stewart-Haas drivers have won the past two Martinsville races.

Tony Stewart won last fall en route to winning the Championship and Ryan Newman won in the spring. Both cars should have equally good set-ups for this race and their odds make them attractive. Stewart is 8/1 and will be using the same car that led 118 laps to a third-place finish at Richmond in the spring. Newman will be using a chassis that finished fifth at Phoenix last year, along with two eight-place finishes at Richmond. Newman, at 25/1 odds, is very attractive, and could make it five sweeps in a decade.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #14 Tony Stewart (8/1)
2) #48 Jimmie Johnson (4/1)
3) #39 Ryan Newman (25/1)
4) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/2)
5) #24 Jeff Gordon (7/1)

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Re: TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Martinsville
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Who's HOT at Martinsville

• Six-time winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with a 5.8 average finish.
• Denny Hamlin has four wins and an average finish of 4.0 in his last 10 starts.
• Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in wins (7), top 10s (31) and laps led (3,423).
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has posted a 4.8 average finish in his last four starts.
• Tony Stewart, who is the defending race winner, has posted four top 10s in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing.
• Ryan Newman won in the spring for his fifth top 10 in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing.
• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top five in three of the last four races.

Keep an Eye On at Martinsville

• Series points leader Brad Keselowski has posted a 13.4 average finish in five starts at Martinsville.
• Clint Bowyer has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last 10 starts at Martinsville.
• Martin Truex Jr. has finished eighth or better in his last two starts at Martinsville.
• Carl Edwards has posted a 10.8 average finish in his last five races at Martinsville.
• Kasey Kahne will return in the same car that he won the pole with at Martinsville in the spring.
• Jeff Burton has finished in the top 10 in the last two fall Martinsville races.
• Kyle Busch has combined to lead 277 laps in two of the last three races at Martinsville.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Denny Hamlin
Pete Pistone: Jimmie Johnson
Ricky Hamber: Kevin Harvick
John Singler: Tony Stewart

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Brad Keselowski: Ninth-place finish in the spring is best finish, and second top 10, in five starts; 13.4 average finish; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 831) in the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

Jimmie Johnson: Six-time winner; Second-best average finish (4.8) in the last 10 races; Best driver rating (121.4) in the last 15 races; Second among all drivers in laps led (1,788); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 749) in the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

Denny Hamlin: Four-time winner; Leads all drivers with a 4.0 average finish in the last 10 races; Has combined to lead 892 laps in last seven races; Third-best driver rating in the last 15 races.

Clint Bowyer: Finished 10th in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in April; Finish was seventh top 10 in 13 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 743) in the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

Kasey Kahne: Won the pole and finished 38th after an engine issue in the spring; 21.7 average finish in 17 starts; Last of two top 10s came in this event in 2006; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 651) that he raced in April at Martinsville.

Martin Truex Jr: Coming off second consecutive top 10; 17.4 average finish in five starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Has yet to lead a lap in last 10 starts.

Tony Stewart: Defending race winner; Win was third in 27 starts; Finished seventh for fourth top 10 in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Fourth-best driver rating in the last 15 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 710) that he last finished fourth with at Richmond International Raceway.

Jeff Gordon: Leads all drivers in wins (7) and laps led (3,423); Third-best average finish (6.3) in the last 10 races; Second-best driver rating in the last 15 races; Led 329 laps in the spring; Finished third in this event last year.

Matt Kenseth: Finished fourth in the spring for third top five in 25 starts; 16.0 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 806) that he last finished 14th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2011 spring race; Has finished fourth or better in three of the last four races; Fifth-best average finish (11.2) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 400) that he last finished 11th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Greg Biffle: 21.9 average finish in 19 starts; Last of two top 10s came in the 2010 spring race; Finished 13th in April; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 822) that he last finished 18th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Has finished seventh or better in last four starts; Fourth-best average finish (10.2) in the last 10 races; Fifth-best driver rating in the last 15 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 654) that he posted a 4.0 average finish in the last three races at Martinsville.

Kyle Busch: Has finished fourth or better in two of the last four races; Has combined to lead 277 laps in two of the last three races; 20.8 average finish in nine starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Carl Edwards: Finished ninth in this event last year; Finish is fifth top 10 in 16 starts; Seventh-best average finish (12.3) in the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 815) that he last finished 19th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Ryan Newman: Winner of the spring race; 11.1 average finish in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Sixth-best average finish (12.2) in the last 10 races; Will be reunited with crew chief Matt Borland.

Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in 10 starts; Best finish (13th) came in this event in 2010; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 349) that he last finished 12th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Marcos Ambrose: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in seven starts; 22.7 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 728) that he last finished 24th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.

Joey Logano: 15.1 average finish in seven starts; Finished second and sixth, respectively, in 2010.

Jeff Burton: Has finished in the top 10 in the last two fall races; Led 134 laps in this event in 2010; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 329) that he finished 22nd with at Martinsville in the spring after suffering electrical issues.

Jamie McMurray: 16.9 average finish in 19 starts; Won the pole and finished seventh in the 2011 spring race; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1222) in the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

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Re: TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

TUMS Fast Relief 500 Preview
By Greg Engle
Examiner.com

If the last visit is any indication Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway could shake up the Chase standings more than any of the Chase races to date. In April Chase drivers Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon tangled on the last restart. The trio went from the front of the field to outside the top 10. Should a similar scenario play out this Sunday the thin margins among those at the top of the Chase could be even thinner.

Brad Keselowski has raced, and survived, to maintain his lead in the standings in the Chase thus far. He escaped a huge point’s loss last week at Kansas due primarily to the misfortunes of others. BK’s stats here don’t bode well for him; could Martinsville be his Achilles heel? In his last five races here, Keselowski has only finished inside the top 10 once; that was in the spring race when he finished ninth after the leaders crashed out. This could be another week when he hopes just to survive.

Jimmie Johnson has six wins here; second most among the top 12. He was in a position for the win in April before disaster struck. As last week at Kansas proved though, Johnson’s lucky horseshoe is back and he could be tough to beat Sunday.

“It should be a good track for us,” Johnson said. “We did the 2013 test a month or so ago, so we’ve been on the track recently; and granted the cars aren’t the same so it will be different, but at least we’ve had some laps on the track. We’ve done a little short track testing that should pay off and make us more competitive. I feel like it’s a good opportunity for us to get points and hopefully if we’re not in the points lead, we can get awfully close to it or take it there.”

Denny Hamlin could be another driver that will be tough to beat this week. He has three wins in the last six races here, but hasn’t been to victory lane since 2010. He was sixth in the spring and fifth in this race last season last year. Hamlin has been a little quiet in the last few races; this could be the week he finally makes some noise.

Clint Bowyer has been the surprise of the Chase and that could continue this week. Bowyer was running in the lead group in April when he was caught up in the final melee and scored 10th. He was 19th in this race last year, but unlike last year he’s with a new team and a new crew chief Brian Pattie. Pattie has led his team to championship form this season and that could continue Sunday.

“Martinsville is really a little more like Atlanta in terms of strategy – usually the best cars run up front,” Pattie said.”It can go green for a long time and the tires are worth something. You have to have forward bite and be really good in the center. The place is so short that two tires can be worth a couple tenths which is huge on a racetrack like Martinsville. I’m glad we are going to a track that the tires matter. At the end of the race the strategies are all over the board, but the same guys always run up front there and it’s always the fastest guys from practice. Hopefully we are one of those guys. I’m really looking forward to it. Our new car is really a hot rod and looks really good, so hopefully she runs good too.”

Kasey Kahne has been struggling lately and his record at Martinsville indicates that those struggles might continue. He started from the pole in the spring but a blown engine relegated him to a 38th finished. Prior to that, he finished outside the top ten in last six races here. In only his second race here with Hendrick Motorsports he could reverse that trend, he certainly had the speed in the spring, but don’t be surprised if Kahne finishes outside the top ten once again.

Martin Truex Jr. was fifth here in the spring, and eighth last season. He’ll need to bank on that recent success if he hopes to finish strong Sunday. In the five races prior to the last two, Truex has finished outside the top twenty in four. He’s never won at Martinsville and that probably won’t change Sunday, but he could score a much needed top five finish.

Tony Stewart is the defending winner of this race and was seventh in the spring. The three races prior to that though Stewart finished outside the top 20. Stewart’s win last October was a hard earned battle that saw him nearly lose a lap. Stewart used sheer determination and some great pit work to come back and win. If he displays that kind of grit Sunday, Stewart could go all the way.

Jeff Gordon had a great race in the spring despite the finish and overall has a pretty solid record at Martinsville. He was third here last season and fifth last spring. His record of top fives in five of the six races prior bodes well for him and could see him near the front Sunday.

Matt Kenseth was fourth here in the spring but 31st in this race last year, sixth last spring. Prior to that he had finishes outside the top 10 in five of the last six races at Martinsville. But coming off the win last week, his third of the season and his second in the Chase, Kenseth could be a dark horse and could be a surprise Sunday.

Kevin Harvick has been relatively silent during the Chase. This could be his week to make some noise however. Sure he was 19th here in the spring, but he won this race last spring and was fourth in this race last year. If Harvick hopes to be noticed in the Chase this could be his best race to date to do just that.

Greg Biffle looked strong last week at Kansas until meeting with the outside wall. He tumbled in the standings, and heads to Martinsville hoping for redemption. Unfortunately his past stats don’t bode well. In the last six races here, Biffle finished outside the top ten in five. If he’s looking for redemption he’ll have trouble finding it here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back in the game after two weeks on the bench while he nursed a concussion. Martinsville isn’t a bad place for Earnhardt to return. He was third here in the spring and had solid finishes prior to that with a seventh in this race last year and a second last spring.

Non-Chasers

Carl Edwards has never won here, but he was 11th in the spring and ninth in this race last season. Edwards has been searching for a win, and this could be the race where this underdog scores a shocking victory.

AJ Allmendinger was second here in the spring. He ran strong nearly all day and seemed to be very comfortable with the short track style of racing. Yes he’s with a different team but at a track where speed isn’t necessarily king, Allmendinger could be a surprise.

Bottom line: 19 races have been won from the pole, the last by Denny Hamlin in October 2010. Kurt Busch won the 2002 fall race from the 36th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

Favorites:

Jimmie Johnson
Tony Stewart
Jeff Gordon

Non-Chase

Carl Edwards
AJ Allmendinger

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Re: TUMS Fast Relief 500 Betting News and Notes

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

Practice Notes - Martinsville

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Qualified     Practice 2     Practice 3
1     Brian Vickers     50/1     1st     2nd     1st     1st
Thoroughly dominated all practice sessions; fastest 10-consecutive lap average in Practice 2.

2     Jimmie Johnson     4/1     7th     1st     4th     6th
Six-time winner with 5.8 career average finish; using brand new chassis this week.

3     Dale Earnhardt, Jr.     12/1     2nd     20th     8th     2nd
Using chassis that he’s raced in past four Martinsville races to a fourth-place average.

4     Denny Hamlin     7/2     3rd     5th     11th     5th
Four-time winner with a 6.4 career average; 20-points behind in Chase, needs this one bad.

5     Jeff Gordon     7/1     4th     11th     2nd     3rd
Seven-time winner with 7.1 career average; best 10-consecutive lap average in final practice.

6     Kyle Busch     10/1     8th     3rd     5th     4th
Career best of third-place in 2011, finished fourth four times; good showing in all practices.

7     Clint Bowyer     15/1     5th     8th     6th     10th
Only one top-five finish in 13 starts, but MWR cars have something working well this weekend.

8     Tony Stewart     8/1     12th     7th     12th     22nd
Three-time winner, the last in 2011; using chassis that finished third and fourth at Richmond.

9     Ryan Newman     25/1     13th     17th     20th     8th
Won the spring race in April; using chassis that has raced to three top-10 finishes in four starts.

10     Paul Menard     100/1     6th     9th     7th     7th
Career best of 13th in 2010, but looked great in practice; using chassis from first race in April.

Note: This is the second race of the season held on the flat half-mile track. The first race was held on April 1, won by Ryan Newman.

Betting Notes: I can’t remember the last time there looked to be so many solid candidates to win at Martinsville. There are at least nine drivers that I could see that have a legitimate chance at winning Sunday’s race. In normal instances, the list is only about three drivers and they usually go onto to win, which is why the odds are always so low. A great case can be made for the three -- Denny Hamlin, Jimmie and Jeff Gordon -- this week, but I’m taking a shot with Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Clint Bowyer.

I’m a little late to the party with Vickers -- missing out on the 50-to-1 odds, but I’ll be happy with 12 or 15-to-1 odds. At Martinsville you want your driver to be able to get out front early and then take off. Before you know it, he’ll be making his last pit stop, and the race will be almost over. He’s got the look of a car in practices that looks dominating in the same way Hamlin, Johnson and Gordon have when they rolled to wins.

The only question mark with Vickers is that he doesn’t have a great record at Martinsville. No top-5 finishes over his career in 14 starts. But then again, he never had a car this good, either.

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