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AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

Odds & Ends - Phoenix

Phoenix International Raceway Data

Chase Race #: 9 of 10
Season Race #: 35 of 36 (11-11-12)
Track Size: 1-mile
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 10 - 11 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 8 - 9 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 1,179 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,551 feet
Race Length: 312 laps / 500 Kilometers

Top 12 Driver Rating at Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson 118.4
Tony Stewart 100.4
Carl Edwards 99.7
Jeff Gordon 99.5
Kurt Busch 98.9
Denny Hamlin 98.8
Mark Martin 98.4
Kevin Harvick 97.5
Kyle Busch 96.9
Greg Biffle 93.3
Martin Truex Jr. 89.1
Ryan Newman 88.6

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) among active drivers at Phoenix International Raceway

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Matt Kenseth, Ford, 137.101 mph, 26.258 sec., 11-11-11
2011 race winner: Kasey Kahne, Toyota, 112.918 mph, (2:45:47), 11-13-11
Track qualifying record: Carl Edwards, Ford, 137.279 mph, 26.244 sec., 2-26-11
Track race record: Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 118.132 mph, (2:38:28), 11-7-99

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Re: AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Highlights - Phoenix

1 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 111.0

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 18 top fives, 24 top 10s; four poles
-- Average finish of 9.8
-- Led 25 races for 1,719 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Four wins, 12 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 5.3 in 18 races
-- Series-best Average Running Position of 6.4
-- Series-best Driver Rating of 118.4
-- Series-high 506 Fastest Laps Run
-- 587 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
-- Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 124.812 mph
-- Series-high 4,267 Laps in the Top 15 (89.9%)
-- 421 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), second-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.6

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 13 top fives, 22 top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.1
-- Led 20 races for 725 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One top five, one top 10
-- Average finish of 22.2 in six races
-- Average Running Position of 20.4, 23rd-best
-- Driver Rating of 72.9, 23rd-best

3 - Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.1

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, nine top fives, 22 top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.7
-- Led 13 races for 388 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Two top fives, five top 10s
-- Average finish of 16.9 in 14 races
-- Average Running Position of 17.7, 19th-best
-- Driver Rating of 79.4, 19th-best

4 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 95.8

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; four poles
-- Average finish of 13.2
-- Led 11 races for 275 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One win, two top fives, five top 10s
-- Average finish of 20.0 in 16 races
-- Average Running Position of 20.8, 24th-best
-- Driver Rating of 74.2, 21st-best

5 - Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.4

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 10.9
-- Led 22 races for 478 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One win, five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 17.9 in 20 races
-- Average Running Position of 16.8, 17th-best
-- Driver Rating of 85.5, 13th-best
-- 159 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
-- 612 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.124 mph, 12th-fastest
-- 311 Quality Passes, 11th-most

6 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.7

2012 Rundown
-- One win, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 14.1
-- Led 22 races for 554 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Two wins, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 10.8 in 27 races
-- Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best
-- Driver Rating of 99.5, fourth-best
-- 176 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.250 mph, 11th-fastest
-- 3,766 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%), third-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 101.3

2012 Rundown
-- Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 12.8
-- Led 23 races for 1,180 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One win, six top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 10.9 in 14 races
-- Average Running Position of 11.7, seventh-best
-- Driver Rating of 98.8, sixth-best
-- 218 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.426 mph, fourth-fastest
-- 3,264 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6%), ninth-most
-- 344 Quality Passes, sixth-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.9

2012 Rundown
-- Three wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 13.4
-- Led 14 races for 420 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One win, eight top fives, 11 top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.8 in 21 races
-- Average Running Position of 10.0, second-best
-- Driver Rating of 100.4, second-best
-- 212 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
-- 643 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.485 mph, second-fastest
-- 3,671 Laps in the Top 15 (77.3%), fourth-most
-- 391 Quality Passes, fifth-most

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

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.8

2012 Rundown
-- Seven top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.4
-- Led 11 races for 423 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- One top five, five top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 15.2 in 13 races
-- Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
-- 134 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.292 mph, ninth-fastest
-- 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), 13th-most
-- 310 Quality Passes, 12th-most

10 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 Filtrete Ford)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.6

2012 Rundown
-- Two wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 10.4
-- Led 16 races for 721 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Five top fives, six top 10s
-- Average finish of 14.1 in 17 races
-- Average Running Position of 14.5, 11th-best
-- Driver Rating of 93.3, 10th-best
-- 275 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
-- 620 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.271 mph, 10th-fastest
-- 2,845 Laps in the Top 15 (59.9%), 12th-most

11 - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.6

2012 Rundown
-- Four top fives, 12 top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.5
-- Led 8 races for 241 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s
-- Average finish of 13.5 in 19 races
-- Average Running Position of 11.5, fifth-best
-- Driver Rating of 97.5, eighth-best
-- 219 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
-- 608 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 124.372 mph, fifth-fastest
-- 3,460 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), fifth-most

12 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet)

-- Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.4

2012 Rundown
-- One win, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 10.6
-- Led 13 races for 358 laps

Phoenix International Raceway Outlook
-- Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s
-- Average finish of 18.1 in 20 races
-- Average Running Position of 17.3, 18th-best
-- Driver Rating of 82.2, 16th-best
-- 114 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-most
-- 637 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most

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Re: AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

Advocare 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts

We've seen seven consecutive different Phoenix race winners heading into this week's race and we've seen Jimmie Johnson win at Phoenix during the Chase in three of his five Championship seasons. However, we've also seen the driver sitting No. 2 in points heading into Phoenix end up winning the Chase the past two seasons.

The driver sitting No. 2 right now is Brad Keselowski, seven points behind Johnson, and he'll need a much better performance than he's shown over his career at Phoenix to have a chance at matching what Johnson and Tony Stewart did the past two seasons as the driver sitting No. 2. Keselowski had a career-best, fifth-place finish in the April race, but his career average is a very mediocre 22.2 in six starts.

This is why the LVH Super Book has Johnson a -275 favorite to win the Championship over Keselowski (+225) heading into this week's race.
But there is reason to believe Keselowski will fare well, despite not doing so well in the past. He never fared well at Texas (25th average finish), but finished runner-up last week. His team is going all-in for the title and the new chassis' built specifically for the Chase have been terrific. He's also got that mentality, the missing intangible that Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin -- the leaders going into Phoenix the past two seasons -- didn't seem to have when it counted.

Keselowski just doesn't seem to get rattled and he's willing to take chances. Just look at the past two weeks at Martinsville and Texas when he gambled with two-tire pit stops late in the race to gain favorable position on the restart. He didn't win, but he did get his best career finishes because of the perceived risky moves.

He's a gambler, and willing to do all it takes to gain an edge because he knows a five-time Champion that has gained maximum points in the last two races is going to be hard to catch. If Johnson somehow slips along the way, those gambles are going to pay off big time.

Next week at Homestead is when we'll see Johnson have to really work for it because it's a track he's never really had to work at. He's never won there before, mostly, because all he had to do was play it safe to win one of his five titles.

But this week at Phoenix is a different story. Johnson can virtually show up and almost sleep himself into a top five finish. His career 5.3 average -- the best in track history -- suggests this is not a track where Keselowski will make huge gains on Johnson.

However, Johnson has yet to win on the new reconfiguration of Phoenix. There have been two races run since the changes and Johnson has finished 14th and fourth. It's almost as if we can throw all the past stats and data from all of Johnson's previous conquests in the garbage. Or at least it's something that Keselowski can tell himself to stay pumped up and confident that he can make a move on Johnson this week.

This track still remains relatively flat, so set-up notes from New Hampshire and Richmond remain valid for this week. We've seen both of those tracks have races in recent weeks with Clint Bowyer winning at Richmond and Hamlin winning at New Hampshire. Hamlin also won the spring Phoenix race making him at top contender to win at 6-to-1 odds.

The driver that stands out this week is Jeff Gordon at 12-to-1 odds because he's the only driver to have top five finishes at both recent races at Richmond and New Hampshire, where he was in the top three of both. Gordon is also a two-time winner at Phoenix, the last coming in 2011 -- the final race under the old configuration.

Kasey Kahne won in the fall last year, the first race under the new configuration, and probably had the best car during the race in March, but hit the wall in the first few laps and ruined his day…and my wager. He's only 8-to-1 this week, but chances are he'll be fast again and a contender to win.

Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (12/1)
2) #2 Brad Keselowski (5/1)
3) #11 Denny Hamlin (6/1)
4) #5 Kasey Kahne (8/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (4/1)

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Re: AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Phoenix
By: Pete Pistone’s Pete Pistone takes a look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway:

Who's HOT at Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson: A four-time Phoenix winner, Johnson looks to add to his Sprint Cup Series advantage with another good finish to improve his 5.3 average at PIR.

Kasey Kahne: Won last year's first Sprint Cup Series race on the new Phoenix reconfiguration and was strong again in the spring at the track.

Jeff Gordon: Has three career Phoenix wins to his credit and, although doesn't have the finishes to show for the effort, has been running well again in the late going of the Chase schedule.

Denny Hamlin: Flat-track specialist has had an up-and-down career at Phoenix with a 10.8 average finish over his last 15 starts at the track, but his dominating New Hampshire win earlier in the Chase should bode well for Hamlin at the similar layout in Arizona.

Kevin Harvick: At one time owned Phoenix and has a pair of Sprint Cup wins on his resume. Harvick turned a lot of laps around Phoenix in a variety of machines prior to last year's reconfiguration.

Who’s NOT

Brad Keselowski: The number two man in the Chase comes to another track where his past record is not that impressive. In six career PIR starts, the Penske Racing driver has a 22.2 average finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Has won at Phoenix twice but that was an eternity ago in the DEI days. Has struggled more often than not in recent years and has an 18.1 average finish coming into the weekend.

Martin Truex Jr.: As his fade during the Chase continues, Truex Jr. will have a challenge on his hand to turn the tide at Phoenix this weekend. Hasn't fared particularly well in 13 career starts with one top-five finish.

Paul Menard: Had a rough outing in Texas and now must take on Phoenix where, in 11 career starts, he has a 23.7 average finish.

Aric Almirola: Trying to end the year on an positive note for the Richard Petty Motorsports team, but has to improve on a 21.7 average Phoenix Int'l Raceway finish.

Keep an Eye On at Phoenix

Ryan Newman:
A former Phoenix winner, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver has competed at Phoenix in several varieties of cars including open wheel as well as stock cars.

Regan Smith: Returns to the Phoenix Racing team this week and the No. 51 Chevrolet and will finish out the season before moving full-time to JR Motorsports' Nationwide Series program in 2013.

Mark Martin: Looking for a third Phoenix win Sunday as he winds down a very successful first season at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Kyle Busch: Finished third at Texas last week behind Johnson and Keselowski and continues to be the most impressive of the non-Chasers. Does have a Phoenix win to his credit.

Clint Bowyer: Still clinging to his outside championship hopes, Bowyer's best Phoenix finish is second in 14 career starts.

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Re: AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

Advocare 500 Preview
By Greg Engle

It isn’t over, but NASCARs penultimate race in the 2012 season could be the event where Jimmie Johnson clinches his sixth NASCAR title. Johnson is in control as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday’s Advocare 500. With a seven point lead Johnson knows it’s his Chase to win, or lose.

“It’s a small amount of control, but we’re definitely in control,” Johnson said. “We don’t have to catch any or make up any points. Seven points is nothing to feel comfortable about and to relax on. We’re still going to go into Phoenix and act as if we’re behind and go in there to try to sit on the pole and win the race again.”

Johnson has a pretty good shot at another win Sunday; he leads all active drivers with four wins here and has earned more points in the last five races at Phoenix than any other driver. Johnson also has the highest average finish and the highest driver rating among the top 12 drivers. The only hope the rest of the field has is that Johnson’s last victory came in 2009. But, in the last five races Johnson has finished fifth or better in four events.

Brad Keselowski has continued to not only surprise, but defy all the odds. At tracks where his stats are lacking, BK has stepped up and finished strong. Combine that with two wins in the Chase and Keselowski remains a strong contender for the title. Keselowski’s best finish at Phoenix came this past spring when he came home fifth; prior to that his finishes were outside the top 15. However as he has shown during the Chase, past numbers mean nothing. Keselowski needs to be somewhat careful though. Should Johnson score a third Chase victory and lead the most laps and Keselowski suffer a disaster that leaves him with a finishing position worse than 37th, the Chase will be over. Given the fact that Keselowski’s worst finish of the season is a 36th though the likelihood that the Chase will be decided this weekend is very small.

“Our mindset heading into Phoenix is exactly the same as it was going into Texas,” Keselowski said. “If we keep running the way we are running, I like our chances. Now, there are some things that I may need to place more focus on over the next two races, especially on pit road. Those are things that are in my control and I will take those necessary steps.”

Clint Bowyer has a very tall order Sunday; if Johnson should win Sunday, Bowyer must finish eighth or better to have a shot at the title heading to Homestead. That might actually be tough for Bowyer. In his last five races here his best finish was a ninth place and that was five races ago. Since then he has finished outside the top 20 in three races, including a 30th place in the spring. Bowyer no longer controls his own destiny, he has to hope for poor finishes from the frontrunners to remain in the Chase.

“We certainly don’t want to wish bad luck on anybody, but for us to be able to close the gap in this deal it’s going to take some good performances by us and some bad luck from both of the other two guys in front of us, “Bowyer said. “That isn’t highly likely, but we’ll do our part to keep trying to be competitive. Even if we aren’t able to close the deal and get the big one at the end it’d be nice to win one of these last two. We’ll be shooting for that.”

Kasey Kahne rolls into Phoenix as the defending winner of this race. That win however came with his old team Red Bull Racing. When he returned here this past spring in his new Hendrick Motorsports ride, bad luck left him with a 34th place finish. Prior to the spring race he has one top 10 finish spilt by two other runs outside the top 20 in addition to his lone win.

Matt Kenseth has made some great strides in the Chase to date. He moved from the bottom of the standings to fifth overall. But could this be the week he runs out of steam? Kenseth did win the pole for this race last year, but in the last five races here Kenseth finished outside the top 10 in three of those, including crashing out last fall. He finished 13th in the spring and may have risen through the ranks as high as he will in 2012.

Jeff Gordon has also risen through the ranks in the last few weeks. Overall at Phoenix Gordon has two wins, 10 top fives, 19 top tens and three poles. One of those wins came in the spring race here last season. He was 32nd in this race last year but a solid eighth in the spring. Gordon won’t win the title this season, but could win Sunday and take a shot and moving into the top five in the Chase.

Denny Hamlin has fallen back in the Chase in the last few races. However, this could be the week he finds some redemption. He won here in the spring and has led the most laps among the Chase field at Phoenix in the last five races. A season sweep here could put a smile back on Hamlin’s face and that could just happen come Sunday.

Tony Stewart used to be a strong contender here. In the last five races however, Stewart has finished outside the top 15 in three outings. He was 22nd here in the spring but third in this race last season so there is a bit of hope.

Martin Truex Jr. has one top ten finish in the last five races at Phoenix. He finished seventh in the spring but don’t expect him to improve on that Sunday. He could score another top ten but won’t contend for the win.

Greg Biffle has two top five finishes in the last five races here. He was third in the spring but 13th in this race last year. However, if he can duplicate the speed he had in March he could be in the mix for the win Sunday. Given his struggles in the last few races though, don’t look for it.

Kevin Harvick has had a forgettable Chase. But this could be the week he gets back some of the ground he’s lost. Harvick actually has a pretty decent record in the last five races here; he was second in the spring and led 88 laps. He was 19th in this race last year but fourth last spring. If he is on his game Sunday Harvick could be the surprise of the day.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been mostly silent since his return from injured status. At Phoenix in the last five races, he has just one top ten finish. He was 14th in the spring and 24th in this race last year. Don’t expect to hear much from him Sunday.


Ryan Newman is the strongest driver among those not in the Chase field at Phoenix. Although he struggled here in the spring, in the four races prior to that he has top five finishes in each, including a win. Don’t be surprised if Newman is celebrating in victory lane Sunday.

Carl Edwards is in desperation mode. After going winless all season and missing the Chase, Edwards is desperate for a win. In the last five races at Phoenix, he has back to back poles and a win. He finished 17th in the spring but was second in this race last season. If he can bring it this week, Edwards could break his winless streak on Sunday.

Kyle Busch finished just behind Johnson and Keselowski here in the spring, coming home sixth. He’s out of the Chase but still a viable contender. He lost an engine in this race last fall and finished a disappointing 36th. However, in the last five races, he has three top ten’s including a second last spring. If he can avoid the gremlins that have plagued the team in the last few races and with the momentum of a third place last week in Texas, Busch could spoil the Chase party Sunday.

Bottom line

The race has been won from a top-10 starting position in 17 of 32 events. Matt Kenseth won the 2002 race from the 28th-place starting position, the furthest back an active race winner has started.


Jimmie Johnson
Denny Hamlin
Kevin Harvick


Ryan Newman
Carl Edwards
Kyle Busch

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Re: AdvoCare 500 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings    
By Micah Roberts

Practice Notes - Phoenix

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Qualified     Practice 2     Practice 3
1     Kyle Busch     8/1     1st     1st     1st     1st
2005 winner; thoroughly dominated practices -- had best 10 consecutive lap averages.

2     Brad Keselowski     5/1     2nd     14th     4th     9th
Career best finish of fifth-place in the spring; using brand new chassis this week.

3     Kasey Kahne     8/1     4th     4th     9th     2nd
2011 winner in first race under new configuration; outstanding practice using new car.

4     Denny Hamlin     6/1     2nd     3rd     2nd     8th
Won spring race in April, also won at similar track at New Hampshire; 10.9 average finish.

5     Clint Bowyer     12/1     3rd     16th     8th     7th
He’s becoming the King of the flat tracks; using car that won on similar track at Richmond.

6     Jeff Gordon     12/1     10th     11th     10th     5th
Two-time winner, the last in spring of 2011, with a 10.8 average finish in 27 career starts.

7     Jimmie Johnson     4/1     27th     24th     24th     11th
Four-time winner, including three times during Chase of Championship season; sluggish practice.

8     Joey Logano     50/1     7th     15th     5th     3rd
Best finish of third in 2010; strong practice using similar set-up as teammates Busch and Hamlin.

9     Martin Truex Jr.     20/1     5th     2nd     3rd     6th
Best finish of fifth in 2009 with career average of 15.2; looked good in average practice speeds.
10     Paul Menard     100/1     8th     7th     6th     19th
Only one top-10 finish over career (2011), but had the look of a contender in practice.

Note: This will be third race under the new configuration at Phoenix. Despite the changes, the track remains relatively flat and keeps recent results at New Hampshire and Richmond still relevant for set-up and handicapping purposes.

Betting Notes: Kyle Busch looks like he’s got the fastest car at Phoenix this weekend. He was fastest in all three practice sessions and starts from the pole. He did all the little things you like to see during practices like have a good overall average speed and run up with the leaders in 10-consecutive lap averages. In both of Saturday’s practice sessions, he had the top 10-consecutive lap average.

As good as Busch looks, we know that the best car doesn’t always win, especially at Phoenix. In the March race we saw Kasey Kahne be almost as good as Busch was this weekend -- at least during happy hour, but it didn’t translate to a win. Kahne wrecked himself early in the race and wasn’t able to win two in a row under the new configuration.

If Busch can’t win the race, look for Kahne to come up with the win. Kahne was just a notch below Busch in all the practice categories we like and we know his car will be set-up perfectly for the race. Kahne just needs to watch out for that tricky wall that bit him in March.

Brad Keselowski was impressive in Saturday practices and looks to have a much better car than Jimmie Johnson. Johnson certainly has a better history at Phoenix, but not that much under the new reconfiguration. Keselowski was fifth in the spring and Johnson fourth, and when you add Johnson and his crew trying to find anything that works on their sluggish car, Keselowski looks to have the edge Sunday.

One of the great moments of the final practice sessions was when Keselowski was informed by his spotter that Johnson’s guy on the roof said Johnson wanted to run behind Keselowski because the No. 2 was running much faster. Johnson slowed, Keselowski passed and just as Johnson was about to and follow Keseloski’s successful line around the track, Keselowski pulled into the pits. He basically said without words, “I’m not helping you do nothing! You‘re struggling and I like it. Two races two go for the title and I need every edge I can get. Work it out yourself.”

Johnson eventually found a little more speed and finished 11th in the session after being 24th in the Saturday’s earlier practice.

Speed also found it’s way into Busch’s Joe Gibbs teammates’ cars of Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Logano offers perhaps the best value on the board at 50-to-1.

We also have to consider Clint Bowyer because he’s using the same car he won with at Richmond in September. Jeff Gordon looked good in practice as well and should have a strong showing due to finishing within the top-3 at both Richmond and New Hampshire in September.

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