Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Driver's Tale of the Tape at Talladega


Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)


· Five top fives, 16 top 10s
· Average finish of 18.0
· Average Running Position of 15.6, fourth-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 91.4
· Series-high 6,338 Green Flag Passes
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 192.727 mph
· 1,807 Laps in the Top 15 (59.4%), fourth-most
· Series-high 4,327 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)

Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing / Serta Chevrolet)

· Six top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.1
· Average Running Position of 15.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 86.1, fifth-best
· 5,481 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 1,856 Laps in the Top 15 (61.0%), second-most
· 3,888 Quality Passes, second-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)

· One win, three top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 22.1
· Driver Rating of 81.1, 12th-best
· 76 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 4,860 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· 1,527 Laps in the Top 15 (50.2%), fifth-most
· 3,061 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)

· Five wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.0
· Average Running Position of 15.0, second-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, second-best
· 68 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 5,239 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 192.666 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,820 Laps in the Top 15 (59.8%), third-most
· 3,577 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Imron Elite Chevrolet)

· Six wins, 15 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.4
· Driver Rating of 83.1, 10th-best
· 1,467 Laps in the Top 15 (48.2%), sixth-most
· 2,577 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)

· Three top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 17.9
· Average Running Position of 17.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 84.9, eighth-best
· 66 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 1,297 Laps in the Top 15 (48.8%), 13th-most
· 2,756 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

· Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.7
· Driver Rating of 80.9, 13th-best
· 1,395 Laps in the Top 15 (45.8%), ninth-most
· 2,866 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot / Husky Toyota)

· One win, five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 18.0
· Series-best Average Running Position of 14.8
· Driver Rating of 88.9, third-best
· 5,005 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Series-high 1,918 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0%)
· 3,838 Quality Passes, third-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)

· Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 12.3
· Average Running Position of 17.2, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 85.6, sixth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 192.539 mph, 12th-fastest

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet)


· One win, five top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 20.0
· Driver Rating of 81.7, 11th-best
· 4,444 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 192.621 mph, eighth-fastest
· 1,446 Laps in the Top 15 (47.5%), eighth-most
· 2,606 Quality Passes, 10th-most

David Ragan (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford)
· Three top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 17.7, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 85.5, seventh-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 192.689 mph, third-fastest

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)

· One win, nine top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.8
· Average Running Position of 16.7, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 83.5, ninth-best
· 69 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 4,813 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 192.550 mph, 11th-fastest
· 1,460 Laps in the Top 15 (48.0%), seventh-most
· 2,572 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Brian Vickers (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)


· One win, four top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 20.1
· Average Running Position of 17.0, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, fourth-best
· 1,299 Laps in the Top 15 (56.9%), 12th-most

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Re: Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Aaron's 499 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

The 10th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season takes us to the biggest, baddest track on the planet -- Talladega Superspeedway. Between four wide racing on a 2.66-mile monster of a track and some of the most spectacular wrecks ever seen, Talladega races are annually the most anticipated events of the season by NASCAR fans.

At the Las Vegas sports books, you can expect to see odds reflected on the race to show more parity than any other type of track, except for maybe Daytona, the other restrictor-plate track. These type of races are crap shoots. Last week at Richmond, Kyle Busch was 9-to-2. This week, he's 12-to-1. There are no single-digit favorites, at least at respectable books, because no driver can be pegged as the true favorite.

You can search through all the stats and data you want on a driver for this race to try and find the winner, but throwing darts and picking a number out of a hat is a system that is just as good. It really is a tough process.

Not only do you have the volatile nature of the track that can wipe out your driver unexpectedly, but you've also got about 35 other drivers that are capable of winning the race. On a normal race weekend, like say at Richmond last week, there are maybe only 15 drivers that have a chance at winning. This makes it harder than any other race to pick the winner, which is why the books offer such fair odds on all the drivers.

It might seem like a good spot to not wager at all. Because there are so many variables against you as bettor, this could be spot to just watch the race for fun. But usually, the fun of watching the race is having action on a couple drivers. And betting at Talladega can actually be more thrilling than other tracks, even in losses, because of never being out of the race unless your car is being being hauled out on a tow truck.

Your driver can be sitting 30th, but with five laps to go, he comes charging to front. Four laps to go and he's in 20th. Three laps to go, and he's in 12th. Two laps to go and now he's in among the leaders, and when the white flag drops signaling one lap to go, you're sitting on the edge of your seat hoping that your driver can make that winning move.

Based on the way the Gen-6 cars ran in the Daytona 500, the sequence of events that unfold may not be as dramatic as past Talladega races -- like described above. We saw 28 lead changes among 14 drivers at Daytona, but I came away feeling bored.

Even though the stats show 14 different leaders at Daytona, I don't remember it that way. I remember thinking it was the worst type of racing at Daytona I've seen since NASCAR implemented the restrictor-plates. Drivers were forced into playing follow the leader in one big long line because their cars got too loose on their own. Drivers could no longer make a power move to pass.

Jimmie Johnson went on to win the Daytona 500, leading the final nine laps, which further illustrates how much has changed with these new cars. In the past, the driver leading at the white flag rarely wins the race. Johnson led the final nine laps, come on now?

So the best wagering strategy this week, besides throwing darts, may be to try and identify a few drivers that might be able to lead a lot of laps.

The first driver to look at is Matt Kenseth who four times for a race high 86 laps in the Daytona 500. His engine expired with 51 laps to go, but he was a driver that looked the best in all the pre-season testing at Daytona and was also fast during the qualifying Duels and Shootout. He captured his first Talladega win last fall and finished third in the spring while driving for Roush Racing.

A driver that was even better than Kenseth in the Duels and Shootout was Kevin Harvick, who won both of those events. He was involved in an accident at Daytona that relegated him to a 42nd-place finish, but he is widely regarded as one of the best plate racers in NASCAR. He won at Talladega in 2010 and the team has a lot of momentum coming off their big win at Richmond.

Brad Keselwoski won his first career race at Talladega in 2009 while driving an under funded car for James Finch. He backed that up by winning at Talladega again last spring. He finished fourth at Daytona, leading four times for 13 laps.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was runner-up at Daytona and has always been considered one of the best at Daytona and Talladega. He's a five-time winner at Talladega, but the last one came in 2004. His best finish there since then was finishing runner-up to Keselowski in 2009. That was the race where Carl Edwards slammed into the catch fence, upside down, following the final turn.

If picking a number out of a hat this week, I would feel lucky if I were to grab to No. 24. Jeff Gordon led 31 laps at Daytona and because of having a tough season thus far, this looks like a race that has his name written all over it. He's got more plate wins than anyone in NASCAR history and has won at Talladega six times.

Top-5 finish prediction:

1) #24 Jeff Gordon (12/1)
2) #2 Brad Keselowski (12/1)
3) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)
4) # 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr (12/1)
5) #20 Matt Kenseth (12/1)

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Re: Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Storylines
NASCAR.COM

Gentlemen and lady roll your dice

Yes, it’s Talladega Time. No doubt about it, any time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engines fire at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway there can be 43 favorites. Anybody’s race? You bet.

The mammoth Alabama facility has produced 10 first-time winners – among them reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. Some have never won again but are able to regale their grandchildren with tales of carrying the checkered flag to ‘Dega’s Victory Lane.

Perhaps either David Ragan or David Gilliland of Front Row Motorsports will be able to provide their up-and-coming organization its first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. Both drivers have top-five finishes on restrictor-plate tracks; Gilliland a Daytona 500 pole in 2007 and Ragan top 10s in both Talladega races a year ago.

Several top-flight teams carry early-season momentum into this week’s race. Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson continues as the standings leader and Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are firmly ensconced in the top five. Junior hopes to capture a sixth Talladega victory and first since 2004.

Both Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates enjoyed last weekend’s night race at Richmond. RCR’s Kevin Harvick, a Talladega winner in 2010, posted the organization’s first points victory of the year. A late caution snatched the win from Juan Pablo Montoya’s pocket but the Colombian still snapped a 74-race top-five drought. EGR teammate Jamie McMurray, a Daytona 500 and Talladega winner, is contending for the organization’s first Chase berth since 2009.

Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole winner Danica Patrick hopes to carry her Daytona momentum – an eighth-place finish – to another restrictor-plate track. Her only ‘Dega experience came during last season’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race in which she finished 13th.

JR Motorsports, driver Regan Smith and crew chief Greg Ives – a former Hendrick Motorsports engineer – have closed to within a point of NASCAR Nationwide Series leader Sam Hornish Jr. The team ended 2012 with a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway and continues to put the No. 5 Chevrolet among the leaders during this year’s opening races.

Experience pays dividends at Talladega Superspeedway where every NASCAR Nationwide Series winner since 2006 has been a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup competitor. Joey Logano won the Aaron’s 312 last season.

Four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars take advantage of the break in the schedule to make NASCAR Nationwide Series appearances this week.

Talladega Identifies Present, Future NASCAR Sprint Cup Stars

Talladega Superspeedway offers validation for some; opportunity for others. Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions – Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon – have won at the 2.66-mile track since 2007. The track also has provided first NASCAR Sprint Cup wins for 10 drivers including Keselowski (2009) and Brian Vickers (2006).

Junior Hopes Daytona 500 Success Equals Sixth Talladega Victory

Only two drivers have won more Talladega races than Dale Earnhardt Jr., who fashioned a four-in-a-row streak between 2001 and 2003 and added a fifth victory in 2004. Junior’s record has been so-so since joining Hendrick Motorsports five years ago – a second place in the 2009 Aaron’s 499 among two top-five and four top-10 finishes. Earnhardt looks to continue his 2013 restrictor-plate momentum, having finished second in the Daytona 500 behind HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Odds Favor Richard Childress Racing Drivers To Contend In Aaron’s 499

Talladega Superspeedway couldn’t come at a better time for Richard Childress Racing. Teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished first and fifth at Richmond and Paul Menard ranks 10th in NASCAR Sprint Cup points. RCR drivers have won an even dozen times at Talladega; most by any owner. Harvick won the 2010 Aaron’s 499 with then-teammate Clint Bowyer taking his RCR Chevrolet to Victory Lane twice in the past five Talladega races.

Front Row Motorsports Could Be Next First-Time Winner

Front Row Motorsports continues to improve its standing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 offers another opportunity for Bob Jenkins’ organization to capture its first victory. The team’s two top-five finishes – David Gilliland, third in the Daytona 500 in 2011; and David Ragan, fourth in last fall’s event at Talladega Superspeedway came on restrictor-plate tracks. Ragan finished seventh in Talladega’s 2012 spring race, while Gilliland posted a ninth-place finish in the previous year’s event.

Roush Fenway Fords Strong At ‘Dega A Year Ago

Matt Kenseth has moved on but his 2.0 average finish in last year’s four restrictor-plate races suggests that Roush Fenway Racing will bring a stable of fast Fords to this week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. RFR has won four times at Talladega – with Kenseth last fall, Jamie McMurray in 2009 and Mark Martin in 1995 and 1997. Gregg Biffle finished fifth and sixth in last year’s Talladega races, as well as sixth in this year’s Daytona 500. Carl Edwards enters this week’s race ranked second in the points standings, 43 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Edwards’ best Talladega finish is fifth.

McMurray, Montoya, EGR On The Rebound

The fog figuratively has lifted for Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray counts three top-10 finishes and a top-12 points ranking; Montoya broke a 74-race top-five finish drought at Richmond and EGR appears ready to contend for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. McMurray is a former Talladega and Daytona 500 winner and Montoya has twice won the Coors Light Pole at the Alabama superspeedway.

Patrick Bids To Replicate Daytona Success At Talladega

Fair to say this continues to be a learning season for Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Danica Patrick. Fair to say that her Daytona 500 performance well could be a precursor to a break-through race on Sunday at another restrictor-plate layout. Patrick won the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500, kept her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at the front of the field until the end and finished a solid eighth.

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Re: Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Talladega
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly analysis to help steer you toward Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Who's HOT at Talladega

• Clint Bowyer, winner of the 2010 and 2011 fall race, leads all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races with a 10.5 average finish.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (839).
• Defending race winner Brad Keselowski has six top 10s in eight starts, including two wins.
• Five-time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has led the most laps (167) in the last 10 races.
• Matt Kenseth, winner of the fall race last year, has led the most laps (148) in the last five races.
• Tony Stewart has one win and six runner-up finishes.
• Jeff Burton, who has the best driver rating, has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts.
• Kyle Busch, winner of this event in 2008, posted a 2.5 average finish in the two races last season.
• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top five in three of the last six races, including a win in this event in 2010.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Talladega


• Greg Biffle (10.2) and Martin Truex Jr. (14.0) each rank in the top five in average finish among all drivers that have raced in the last five events at Talladega.
• Jimmie Johnson, a two-time Talladega winner, won the first points-paying restrictor-plate race with the Gen-6 car - the Daytona 500.
• Ryan Newman (15.2) and Bobby Labonte (15.6) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races.
• Danica Patrick will be back in the same car she won the pole and finished eighth with in the Daytona 500.
• Trevor Bayne will be back  in the No. 21 Ford, Regan Smith in the No. 51 Chevrolet and Michael Waltrip in the No. 55 Toyota.
• David Ragan has posted a 5.5 average finish in the last two Talladega races.
• If Denny Hamlin runs the complete race - he led 33 laps in the Daytona 500 with the Gen-6 car. (updated 8:20 p.m. ET).
• Kurt Busch, who has completed the second-most laps (1856) while running in the top 15 in the last 16 races at Talladega, will be making his first track start with Furniture Row Racing.
• Kasey Kahne recorded an 8.0 average finish in his two starts at Talladega with Hendrick Motorsports.
• Aric Almirola, who finished 13th in the Daytona 500, is the only driver to bring three consecutive top 10s on the season into Talladega.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dustin Long: Carl Edwards
John Singler: Paul Menard

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Jimmie Johnson: Two-time winner; Last win came in this event in 2011 - his last of nine top 10s; 17.2 average finish in the last five races; 26.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Won the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 764) that he finished 14th with in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona after being involved in an accident.

Carl Edwards: Last of four top 10s came in this event in 2011; 20.2 average finish in the last five races; 22.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 33rd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 835) that he finished 22nd with in the Budweiser Duel at Daytona after being involved in an accident.

Kasey Kahne: 8.0 average finish in two starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 17.0 average finish in the last five races; 17.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 36th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 768) that he started sixth and finished 36th with in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Ninth-place finish in this event last year was 13th top 10 in 26 starts; Won five times with the Gen-4 car; 19.4 average finish in the last five races; 9.6 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished second in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 773) that he raced in the Daytona 500.

Clint Bowyer: Winner of the 2010 and 2011 fall races; Leads all drivers with a 6.6 average finish in the last five races; 16.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 11th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Brad Keselowski: Defending race winner; Third-best average finish (11.0) in the last five races; 10.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished fourth and led 13 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 649) - that was tested at Daytona in January.

Kyle Busch: Winner of this event in 2008; 2.5 average finish in last two races; 19.6 average finish in the last five races; 16.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 34th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after engine issues.

Greg Biffle: Coming off second top five in 20 starts; Second-best average finish (10.2) in the last five races; Best average finish (8.2) among all drivers that have competed in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished sixth in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 852) in the Aaron's 499.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of this event in 2010; 15.0 average finish in the last five races; 21.6 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 42nd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after getting caught up in an accident; Will pilot the same chassis (No. 334) that Austin Dillon drove to a 31st-place finish in the Daytona 500.

Paul Menard: 16.4 average finish in the last five races; 17.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 21st and led one lap in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 406) that he tested at Daytona International Speedway in January.

Aric Almirola: 12th-place finish in this event last year is best in six starts; 17.0 average finish in the last five races; 19.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 13th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 780) in the Aaron's 499.

Jamie McMurray: Winner of the 2009 fall race; 26.2 average finish in the last five races; Finished 32nd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Matt Kenseth: Coming off first win in 26 starts; Posted a 2.0 average finish in both races last season; 14.8 average finish in the last five races; 9.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Led a race-high 86 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona before engine issues took him out of the race.

Jeff Gordon: Six-time winner; Coming off 15th top five (second) in 40 starts; Fifth-best average finish (14.6) in the last five races; 21.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 20th and led 31 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Martin Truex Jr: 13.7 average finish in six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Fourth-best average finish (14.0) in the last five races; 18.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 24th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Ryan Newman: Coming off eighth top 10 (ninth) in 22 starts; 26.2 average finish in the last five races; 15.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished fifth and led three laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 701) that he finished 21st with in the 2012 Daytona 500.

Joey Logano: Making first track start with Penske Racing; Posted four top 10s in previous eight starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; 19.4 average finish in the last five races; 18.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 19th and led two laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 655) in the Aaron's 499.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: making first Cup Series track start; 16.0 average finish in two restrictor-plate starts at Daytona; Finished 12th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 830) that he raced in the Daytona 500.

Jeff Burton: Has finished in the top 10 in the last three races, including a runner-up in the 2011 fall race; Leads all drivers with a 91.4 driver rating in the last 16 races; 15.8 average finish in the last five races; 11.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 30th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after being involved in an accident; Will debut a new chassis (No. 337) in the Aaron's 499.

Kurt Busch: Making first track start with Furniture Row Racing; 28.6 average finish in the last five races; Last of 13 top 10s (eighth) came in this event in 2010; Finished 28th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

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Re: Aaron’s 499 Betting News and Notes

Aaron's 499 Post-Practice Betting Notes
By: Micah Roberts 
Sportingnews.com

Unlike most of the tracks on tour, practices at Talladega Speedway mean very little, and therefore they don't give any hint as to who might win Sunday's Aaron's 499. The drivers ran two sessions on Friday, the last of which only 27 drivers participated in, which gives a clear indication on how important they find the practices.

What was learned at Daytona during speed weeks and the Daytona preseason testing still applies this week at Talladega. Because the track is wider with plenty of room, we may have the possibility of seeing more competitive racing. The drivers should feel more comfortable bump drafting here because there is so much room compared to the tighter Daytona.

There shouldn't be much adjusting to a bettor's plan that was formulated before practices. The only thing to add into any equation might be starting position, which was set based on the first practice session because qualifying was rained out Saturday.

The Daytona 500 starting position proved to be vital for most of the race with what appeared to be little passing. Drivers played follow the leader for the most part. If this is true again Sunday, someone like Carl Edwards (starting first) or Joey Logano (fourth) starting near the front have a great shot to grab their first restrictor-plate wins.

Kevin Harvick tops our list this week just because of how well he maneuvered while winning the Budweiser Duel and Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. In the 500, he was involved in a nine-car wreck on lap 34 that ended his day prematurely. Between his past success at Talladega and Richard Childress claiming a track-record 12 career wins as an owner, Harvick is a slight notch above the top six, who are all rated very closely.

Betting propositions or matchups in plate races are not advised. The nature of the track is too volatile, which takes away any edge that may have be found within the numbers based on practices and track tendencies. This race is really a crapshoot where up to 35 drivers have a legitimate shot at winning. The best advice is weight wagers between three or four drivers from an assortment of drivers up to 30-to-1. It really is like throwing darts, but this race is always too much fun to not have action on something.

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