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Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Driver's Tale of the Tape at Charlotte

Aric Almirola (No. 43 USAF Ford)


· One pole
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 12.5, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 84.8, 11th-best

Greg Biffle (No. 16 Fastenal Ford)

· Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.4
· Average Running Position of 13.9, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 94.1, fifth-best
· 300 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,174 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.906 mph, third-fastest
· 3,716 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), sixth-most
· 653 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Red-White-Blue M-Prove America Toyota)

· Eight top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 9.6, second-best
· Driver Rating of 107.7, second-best
· 418 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,147 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.527 mph, second-fastest
· 4,565 Laps in the Top 15 (80.0%), second-most
· Series-high 833 Quality Passes

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

· Five top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 18.8
· Average Running Position of 20.2, 25th-best
· Driver Rating of 78.8, 18th-best
· 1,228 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· 2,401 Laps in the Top 15 (44.7%), 17th-most
· 487 Quality Passes, 17th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

· Five top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.0
· Average Running Position of 15.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.0, seventh-best
· 118 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-most
· 1,329 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.543 mph, 12th-fastest
· 3,282 Laps in the Top 15 (57.5%), eighth-most
· 632 Quality Passes, sixth-most

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

· Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; eight poles
· Average finish of 15.7
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, 10th-best
· 188 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,124 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.723 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,216 Laps in the Top 15 (56.4%), ninth-most
· 601 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)

· Three top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 14.1
· Average Running Position of 12.9, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.1, sixth-best
· 200 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.656 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,780 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), fourth-most
· 616 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet)

· Six wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.4
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.9
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.7
· Series-high 544 Fastest Laps Run
· 1,167 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 176.653 mph
· Series-high 4,932 Laps in the Top 15 (86.4%)
· 825 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet)

· Four wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.4
· Average Running Position of 12.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 98.0, third-best
· 474 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,331 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 3,729 Laps in the Top 15 (65.4%), fifth-most
· 729 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)

· Two wins, seven top fives, 14 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.2
· Average Running Position of 14.8, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 94.4, fourth-best
· 303 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,259 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.786 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,549 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), seventh-most
· 699 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Ford)

· Two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 10.1
· Average Running Position of 14.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.4, eighth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.561 mph, 11th-fastest

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

· Four wins, 18 top fives, 24 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 16.6
· Average Running Position of 13.3, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.2, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.799 mph, fourth-fastest
· 3,862 Laps in the Top 15 (67.7%), third-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)

· One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.4, 12th-best
· 187 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,263 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.719 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,998 Laps in the Top 15 (52.5%), 10th-most
· 567 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR odds – Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kenseth top the board for Coca-Cola 600
By: Micah Roberts
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- Jimmie Johnson, who proved in last week’s Sprint All-Star Race that someone other than a Joe Gibbs driver can win on a 1.5-mile track, has been installed by the LVH SuperBook as the 6-to-1 co-favorite to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday night.

Remember, though, that the All-Star race was a 90-lap series of sprints – and, of course, a non-points race.

The two other co-favorites, Gibbs drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, have gobbled up all the points-race wins on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

Johnson has six career wins at Charlotte, but he's no longer the dominant force at this track he once was. His success has been better in the fall race, but his last top-10 finish in the Memorial Day weekend race was in 2007. He'll be using a brand new chassis this week and attempting to do what he did in 2003: sweep the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 in back-to-back weeks.

Busch has never won at Charlotte, but he's been very close. He's finished in the top five in eight of his last 11 starts there, including his last three. Kenseth won at Charlotte in the fall of 2011 and also won his first career race in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600 as a rookie. Busch – who won at Texas, Charlotte's sister track and the one runs the most similar – appears to have somewhat of an edge this week.

Kasey Kahne is a strong candidate to upset the favorites. He won this race last season and has three other Charlotte wins over his career. He also finished second to Kenseth at the 1.5-mile tracks at Las Vegas and Kansas.

Another driver to look at this week is Greg Biffle. He's never won at Charlotte, but did finish fourth in both races last season. Biffle will be using his chassis from Texas, site of his only top five finish of the season.

Here's a look at all the drivers' odds offered this week by the LVH:

ODDS TO WIN COCA-COLA 600

JIMMIE JOHNSON 6-1
KYLE BUSCH 6-1
MATT KENSETH 6-1
DENNY HAMLIN 7-1
KASEY KAHNE 8-1
BRAD KESELOWSKI 12-1
CARL EDWARDS 12-1
JEFF GORDON 12-1
GREG BIFFLE 15-1
DALE EARNHARDT JR 15-1
CLINT BOWYER 15-1
KEVIN HARVICK 15-1
MARTIN TRUEX JR 15-1
TONY STEWART 30-1
JOEY LOGANO 35-1
KURT BUSCH 35-1
MARK MARTIN 60-1
RICKY STENHOUSE JR 60 -1
JUAN MONTOYA 75-1
JAMIE McMURRAY 75-1
RYAN NEWMAN 100-1
PAUL MENARD 100-1
MARCOS AMBROSE 100-1
ARIC ALMIROLA 100-1
JEFF BURTON 200-1
TREVOR BAYNE 300-1
REGAN SMITH 300-1
DANICA PATRICK 500-1
DAVID RAGAN 1000-1
FIELD 100-1

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Jimmie Johnson showed last week during the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway that someone could finally compete with the Joe Gibbs cars on 1.5-mile tracks. Until Johnson's win Saturday night, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth had won on all three mile-and-a-half tracks, and they also combined to win on the 2-mile track at Fontana and the 1.336-mile layout at Darlington.

It appears that several teams are catching up with the high standards the Joe Gibbs teams have set in the Gen-6 car. Although the All-Star race is a completely different format with only 90 laps run and several stops in action, Johnson and teammate Kasey Kahne will be right up there battling for the Coca-Cola 600 win Sunday night.

Johnson has won the Memorial Day weekend race three times and has won at Charlotte six times over his career. He swept the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 in 2003. However, he hasn't had a top-10 finish in the Coca-Cola 600 since 2007.

A recent repave at Charlotte has something to do with Johnson's recmt struggles at Charlotte, something that he acknowledges.

"We knew, literally, what time in the afternoon, what adjustment needed to be made to the car, and it was like clockwork, didn't matter the year, just every single time," said Johnson.

"It's not that way anymore."

Kahne is a four-time winner at Charlotte and comes in with runner-up finishes to Kenseth at the 1.5-mile tracks in Las Vegas and Kansas. Kahne becomes a great candidate to win Sunday not only because his success at Charlotte and other 1.5-mile tracks this season, but also because of winning this race last season.

As good a run that we should see out of Johnson and Kahne this week, it's still hard to go against the Gibbs cars, which also includes Denny Hamlin. Until we see someone knock them off on a big horsepower track, why go against them. We can say that the All-Star gave an indication that others are catching up, but until seeing it in a real race, it's hard to not go with the Gibbs cars.

Kyle Busch has never won at Charlotte, but man, he's been real close. He's finished in the top-5 in eight of his last 11 starts at Charlotte, including his last three starts. He also won at Texas, which is probably the track most similar to Charlotte.

Kenseth is a two-time winner at Charlotte, the last coming in 2011. He won his first career race in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600 as a rookie. He's the 6-to-1 co-favorite to win this week with Johnson and Busch.

Hamlin should be given strong consideration this week because he's getting healthier, and he's got the same equipment as Busch and Kenseth. Last season Hamlin was runner-up in both Charlotte races.

One long shot that should be considered is Greg Biffle, who will be using a chassis that captured his only top-5 of the season at Texas. Biffle has never won at Charlotte, but he did finish fourth in both races last season. 15-to-1 isn't that big of a long shot, but when you're dealing with such dominant cars like the Gibbs crew, everyone seems like a long shot.

Before the Coca-Cola 600 starts, the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place. Here in Las Vegas, we have seen a major transformation over the years with the betting handle rapidly declining on the Indy 500. It mirrors IndyCar racing's popularity probelms around the country. However, it's still a great event and if action is going to be taken on it, we might as well bet it.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

INDY 500


1) #25 Marco Andretti (15/1)
2) #27 James Hinchcliffe (7/1)
3) #9 Scott Dixon (5/1)
4) #10 Dario Franchitti (8/1)
5) #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (10/1)

Coca-Cola 600

1) #20 Matt Kenseth (6/1)
2) #5 Kasey Kahne (8/1)
3) #11 Denny Hamlin (10/1)
4) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Charlotte
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 night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Who's HOT at Charlotte

• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with six wins.
• Pole winner Denny Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in his last five starts, including runner-up finishes in the last two.
• Kyle Busch has finished in the top five in five of his last six starts.
• Kevin Harvick has finished eighth or better in four of his last five starts, including a win in 2011.
• Three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Kasey Kahne has posted a 4.3 average finish in his last three starts.
• Matt Kenseth, who will make his first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing, has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Charlotte

• Martin Truex Jr. (4.7), Brad Keselowski (6.0), Carl Edwards (8.3), Aric Almirola (10.3), Jamie McMurray (12.0) and Mark Martin (12.3) each rank in the top 10 in average finish over the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.
• Jeff Gordon, a five-time Charlotte winner, has posted a 10.2 average finish in his last five Coca-Cola 600 starts.
• Greg Biffle has finished fourth in his last two Charlotte starts.
• Kurt Busch, who qualified second, has been fast since the Cup Series arrived at Charlotte last week for the All-Star Race.
• Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored his best finish of the season (11th) on the last 1.5-mile track, Kansas Speedway.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top 10 in his last two Coca-Cola 600 starts.
• Clint Bowyer is coming off his first Charlotte win.
• Joey Logano, who will make his first Charlotte points-paying start with Penske racing, leads all drivers with a 10.1 average finish at CMS.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kyle Busch
Pete Pistone: Matt Kenseth
Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne
John Singler: Kasey Kahne

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

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

Jimmie Johnson: Last of six wins came in the 2009 fall race; Last of three Coca-Cola 600 wins came in 2005; 11.4 average finish in 23 starts; Winner of last weekend's All-Star Race; Tied for the second-best average finish (5.0) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 799) in the Coca-Cola 600.

Carl Edwards: Has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts; 12.0 average finish in 16 starts; 8.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 821) that he won the pole for the All-Star Race with.

Matt Kenseth: Last of two wins came in the 2011 fall race; Tied for the best average finish (4.7) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Making first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Coming off 11th top 10 in 26 starts; Appeared to be on his way to the win in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 but ran out of fuel in Turn 4; 17.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.

Clint Bowyer: Coming off first win in 14 starts; Finished 13th in this event last year in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing; 15.7 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 773) that he finished 18th with in the All-Star Race.

Kasey Kahne: Coming off third Coca-Cola 600 win; Has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts; Tied for the second-best average finish (5.0) and leads all drivers in laps led (205) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 793) that he finished second with at Kansas Speedway.

Brad Keselowski: Best finish (fifth) came in this event last year; 15.7 average finish; 6.0 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 843) that he finished 23rd with at Auto Club Speedway.

Kyle Busch: Has finished eighth or better in 10 of his last 11 starts; Has led the most laps (722) in the last 10 races; Second among all drivers in laps led (198) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks.

Aric Almirola: Won the pole for last year's "600"; 14.0 average finish in two starts; 10.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 848) that he finished sixth with in the Coca-Cola 600.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of this event in 2011; Has finished eighth or better in four of the last five races; 11.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 425) in the Coca-Cola 600.

Paul Menard: Only top 10 (eighth) in 12 starts came in this event in 2010; 22.0 average finish in four starts with Richard Childress Racing; 12.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 418) that he finished 17th with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon: Last of five wins came in the 2005 fall race; Finished in the top 10 in two of his last three Coca-Cola 600 starts; 25.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.

Greg Biffle: Has finished fourth in his last two starts; 16.4 average finish in 20 starts; 13.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 849) that he finished fourth with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr: 18.2 average finish in six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Finished 12th in this event last year; Tied for the best average finish (4.7) and is third in laps led (188) in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.

Jamie McMurray: Has yet to finish in the top 10 since finishing second and first, respectively, in 2010; 12.0 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Finished 11th in this event last year driving for the Wood Brothers; 23.0 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 827) that he finished 40th with at Texas Motor Speedway because of a cut left-rear tire early in the race.

Ryan Newman: Three top 10s - two in the Coca-Cola 600 - in eight starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; 20.7 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 748) that he last finished 10th with at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch: Finished 21st last fall in first track start with Furniture Row Racing; Won this event in 2010 with Penske Racing; 24.0 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar.

Joey Logano: Has finished in the top 10 in five of his eight starts; 18.7 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will make first track start with Penske Racing driving a new car (chassis No. 854) in the Coca-Cola 600

Jeff Burton:
Last of three wins came in the 2008 fall race; Has yet to finish in the top 10 since that win; 22.3 average finish in the three races on 1.5-mile tracks with the Gen-6 racecar; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 372) that he finished 32nd with at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Coca-Cola 600 Preview
By Sportsbook.ag

NASCAR gets back to its regular schedule after last week’s All-Star Race, staying in Concord, NC for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday afternoon. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile, intermediate track completed in 1959 in a quad-oval shape. Every turn has the same 24° banking and straightaways are nearly flat with 5° banking. The frontstretch measures 1,980 feet (.375 miles) while the backstretch is just 1,500 feet (.284 miles).

In the past 10 regular-season races at this track, there have been nine different winners, with Kasey Kahne, who won last year's Coca-Cola 600, being the only driver in this span to win twice. Clint Bowyer won the Bank of America 500 last October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
 
Drivers to Watch

Matt Kenseth (6/1) -
As the champion of three of the past four intermediate races on the NASCAR circuit this season (Las Vegas, Kansas and Darlington), it's no wonder why Kenseth is getting such short odds. He's also enjoyed racing at Charlotte, capturing his second career win at this track in the 2011 fall race as part of seven career top-5 finishes. And in the past dozen Charlotte races where he's avoided a crash, Kenseth has never placed worse than 14th. The choice may be chalky, but Kenseth is our pick to take home the checkered flag on Sunday
   
Kasey Kahne (8/1) - Kahne was our pick to win last year's Coca-Cola 600 and he did just that with 10-to-1 odds. He is now in a great position to rack up his fifth career victory at Charlotte on Sunday, a track where he carries a 9.4 average finish since 2006 with top-8 finishes in 10 of the 14 starts during this span. He's also raced hard on intermediate tracks this season, most notably finishing second at both Las Vegas and Kansas. And last week, he performed admirably in the All-Star race with a fourth-place showing. His odds aren't great, but Kahne is still worthy of a small wager.

Clint Bowyer (15/1) - Last week's 18th-place finish after starting sixth and leading 11 laps was certainly disappointing. But Bowyer is receiving favorable enough odds to bank on him bouncing back and winning a second straight regular-season race at this venue. He may not have the best track record in Charlotte with just four top-10's in 14 starts (16.4 average finish), but Bowyer has tallied an outstanding four top-5's in his past eight races this season.

Ryan Newman (100/1) - Newman is certainly the best longshot on the board, especially considering he received 40-to-1 odds in this race last season. Although he's never won at this track, Newman has claimed an impressive nine Charlotte poles leading to a career 6.9 average start at this venue. He's been unlucky in failing to finish five career Charlotte races (3 engine failures, 2 crashes), the last two of which have ruined his pole position. And if you eliminate Newman's three non-finishes in 2013 (2 crashes, 1 engine failure), he has a quality average finish of 12.8 in his other eight starts. This includes a pair of top-10's at intermediate tracks (Texas and Darlington). These are enough reasons to drop a unit wager on Newman's triple-digit odds.

Joey Logano (35/1) - After finishing second at last week's All-Star race on this same track, Logano provides excellent value at his 35-to-1 odds. He has an impressive average finish of 10.1 with five top-10's in eight career regular-season starts in Charlotte, and Logano has even led a lap in three of these eight starts. Logano also enters the weekend with top-5 finishes in three of his past seven races, including a fifth-place showing at the intermediate track at Fort Worth.

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Coca-Cola 600 Practice Notes: Kahne Looks Like the Driver to Beat
By: Micah Roberts
Sportingnews.com

There are several angles to approach when searching for who the winning driver will before the green flag drops for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. You can look at Saturday’s practice times -- where Kasey Kahne was fastest in both sessions, or stay with what has been the winning formula on the previous three 1.5-mile tracks, and simply ride with a Joe Gibbs driver.

You can also look at some past history in the longest race of the year, because it appears that some drivers and crews seem to have an edge at not only the distance, but also the rapidly changing conditions. This race will start with the sun shining, go to dusk, and then finish up at night. In each of those changes, the temperature will drop, which will drastically change the set-up requirements of the car. Those who make the best and quickest changes on the fly, usually win.

Based on what happened during Saturday’s final two practice sessions, it looks as though Kasey Kahne is the driver to beat. Along with being fastest in both sessions, Kahne also had the best 10-consecutive laps average during happy hour. Although the practices were run in morning, and won’t resemble any condition they’ll see during the race, Kahne’s got a lot of success going for him -- both historical and on similar tracks.

Kahne can’t match the three wins Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch have combined for on 1.5-mile tracks, but he’s close. He finished runner-up to Kenseth at Las Vegas and Kansas. And not so coincidentally, he’s using that same chassis from Kansas this week.

All season long on the horsepower tracks, Gibbs Toyota's have dominated with the Gen-6 car, with everyone else trying to play catch-up. But the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kahne and Jimmie Johnson seem to be bridging the gap between two of the elite teams in NASCAR. Johnson won the All-Star race at Charlotte last week, and Kahne led once for 11 laps in the non-points race. Although the format of the All-Star race is completely different from what we'll see Sunday, it's still a sign that we could see another manufacturer besides a Toyota winning a 1.5-mile points race soon. Another common ground with the All-Star race is that the conditions for the final 100 laps will be similar.

Kahne’s edge over the Gibbs cars this week is also boosted by history where his is great and the Gibbs organization has traditionally been a little behind. Bobby Labonte’s Coca-Cola 600 win in 1995 still remains Joe Gibbs only win in the marathon race. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin -- second last season -- have been close several times, but don’t have wins in any Charlotte race.

As for Kahne, he’s won four times at Charlotte, including the Coca-Cola 600 three times. He won last years race as well. Everything seems to be pointing Kahne's way this week.

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Re: Coca-Cola 600 Betting News and Notes

Raceday: Your guide to the Coca-Cola 600
Charlotteobserver.com
By Jim Utter

Three things to watch

1 . Jimmie Johnson has the most wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway of any active driver, yet hasn't claimed a victory in a points race since 2009. Can he change that Sunday?

2. Clint Bowyer won last fall's October race at CMS and is still looking for his first win of the 2013 season.

3 . Denny Hamlin starts from the pole. If he finishes in the same position, it's 'game on' for his race to make the Chase.

Observations

• There is one unexpected issue that may play a role in any NASCAR decision whether to allow Bruton Smith to move one of his two Sprint Cup races at Charlotte to Las Vegas. So far, NASCAR has approved every realignment request since it instituted the policy but has always said it reserves the right to say no based on the best interests of the sport. Now that NASCAR's Hall of Fame is up and running in Charlotte, it's three biggest weeks of the year are the three race weeks at CMS - the two points races and the all-star race. Take one away and the Hall will lose a significant amount of revenue and attention. And remember, NASCAR has a vested interest in making sure the Hall remains self-sufficient.

• Denny Hamlin's biggest obstacle to making the Chase is not going to be his own performance. He's certainly shown already he is no worse for wear since returning from his back injury. The biggest problem is even if Hamlin does well each week, he has to count on the six drivers between him and the coveted 20th spot in the series standings to do worse than him. That's not impossible but it's not probable, either. And even that 20th spot won't mean much with a victory or two to use a wild card entry. In this case, close isn't going to cut it.

• Although this is Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s rookie season in the Cup series, this will not be his first start in the Coca-Cola 600. Two years ago, Stenhouse filled in the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford in the 600 when Bayne was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. He started ninth and finished 11th.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne

Notes

Air Titan has "cost issue": NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Saturday that NASCAR's new Air Titan track drying system is available to every track but admitted there is a "cost issue" involved that has made it difficult for track owners to incorporate its use.

France said without the Air Titan system at Talladega, Ala., earlier this month, neither the Nationwide nor the Cup race would have been completed on their scheduled days.

"My hope is that we will get the cost down, number one, and that every track in risk of having rain will be using the system," France said. "It just takes the industry a little time to realize that it really works, all of us to get together and implement it."

Menard says RCR right fit for him: Paul Menard said he believes Richard Childress Racing is the right fit for him and that's why he and sponsor Menards re-signed with RCR on Friday.

"Richard is a great guy. He's there all the time and I feel like we have a really good relationship," Menard said. "We've known each other pretty well over the last 10 years or so, and this being the third year working with him, I enjoy it.

"We have good people. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) is coming back. We have a lot of great guys behind the scenes at RCR that work hard and are smart and they do the right things."

Final practice update: Kasey Kahne was fastest in Saturday's final pre-600 practice session with an average speed at 188.594 mph. Kurt Busch was second fastest and pole-winner Denny Hamlin was third. Kahne was also fastest in Saturday's morning practice session.

Three to the back: During the first Cup practice on Saturday, the engine in Danica Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet blew up. In the second session, both Jeff Burton and Trevor Bayne lost engines. All three drivers will have to start Sunday's 600 race from the rear of the field.

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