Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Sonoma Raceway Data

Season Race #: 16 of 36 (06-12-14)
Track Size: 1.99-miles
Number of Turns: 12
Race Length: 110 laps / 219 miles / 350 Kilometers

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Sonoma

Marcos Ambrose 108.0
Kurt Busch 107.8
Tony Stewart 102.4
Jeff Gordon 101.6
Jimmie Johnson 97.3
Juan Pablo Montoya 95.5
Clint Bowyer 95.2
Kyle Busch 88.0
Ryan Newman 88.0
Carl Edwards 86.8

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Sonoma Raceway.

Qualifying/Race Data


2013 Coors Light Pole winner:
Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet
94.986 mph, 75.422 secs. 06-21-13

2013 Race Winner:
Clint Bowyer, Toyota
76.658 mph, (02:51:20), 06-23-13

Track Qualifying Record:
Marcos Ambrose, Ford
95.262 mph, 75.203 secs. 06-22-12

Track Race Record:
Clint Bowyer, Toyota
83.624 mph, (02:39:55), 06-24-12

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Sonoma Driver Tale of the Tape


Marcos Ambrose (No. 9 DeWALT Ford)


· Two top fives, five top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.8
· Average Running Position of 10.5, second-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 108.0
· 58 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 89.904 mph
· 544 Laps in the Top 15 (81.6%), ninth-most
· 207 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour ENERGY Toyota)

· One win, five top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 9.1
· Average Running Position of 14.1, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 95.2, seventh-best
· 35 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 530 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.543 mph, sixth-fastest
· 216 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)

· One win, six top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.0
· Series-best Average Running Position of 10.0
· Driver Rating of 107.8, second-best
· 56 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.869 mph, third-fastest
· Series-high 761 Laps in the Top 15 (76.3%)
· 201 Quality Passes, eighth-most

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

· One win, one top five, two top 10s
· Average finish of 20.4
· Driver Rating of 88.0, eighth-best
· 50 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.529 mph, seventh-fastest
· 518 Laps in the Top 15 (52.0%), 11th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford)

· Two top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 15.6
· Average Running Position of 15.5, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.8, 10th-best
· 27 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· Series-high 548 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.482 mph, eighth-fastest
· 544 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), ninth-most
· 196 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Panasonic Chevrolet)

· Five wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 8.2
· Average Running Position of 12.6, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 101.6, fourth-best
· 64 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 493 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.707 mph, fourth-fastest
· 666 Laps in the Top 15 (66.8%), fourth-most
· 230 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 13.4
· Average Running Position of 12.5, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, fifth-best
· 52 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.470 mph, 10th-fastest
· 717 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9%), third-most
· 240 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)

· One win, two top fives, three top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 20.4
· Average Running Position of 16.1, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.3, 12th-best
· 32 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 552 Laps in the Top 15 (55.4%), eighth-most
· 210 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 13.1
· Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.0, eighth-best
· 507 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.464 mph, 11th-fastest
· 572 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), sixth-most
· 185 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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

· Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 12.0
· Average Running Position of 11.0, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.4, third-best
· Series-high 79 Fastest Laps Run
· 475 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.881 mph, second-fastest
· 740 Laps in the Top 15 (74.2%), second-most
· Series-high 261 Quality Passes

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)

· One win, one top five, two top 10s
· Average finish of 19.1
· Driver Rating of 86.5, 11th-best
· 42 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 487 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 89.559 mph, fifth-fastest

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Toyota/Save Mart 350 Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Jimmie Johnson’s first career win at Michigan on Sunday was his third win in the past four Sprint Cup races, and it was Hendrick Motorsports fifth straight win. Hard to believe it was only a month ago that Johnson had no wins through 11 races on the season. He’s been dropped down to 9/5 odds (Bet $100 to win $180) at the LVH SuperBook to win the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship.

Is Johnson just going to run away with this thing? It’s a lot tougher for him in this year’s Chase format because if he makes it the unofficial championship game at Homestead in the season finale, he’ll have to race three other drivers in a winner-take-all format. Whoever finishes best in that race among the four finalists will be crowned the champion.
   
Michigan was one of five tracks Johnson had never won on before Sunday. Now only four remain and Homestead is one of them.

I’m not rooting against Johnson to get his seventh championship, I’m just trying to make a case for someone else and keep hopes alive that Johnson isn’t going to just roll through the entire season with ease. Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski gave me some hope Sunday with comments after Sunday’s race and made a lot of sense.

“I think right now the Penske cars are probably the best when it comes to balance track to track,” Keselowski told reporters. “The Hendrick cars are probably the best where it takes power to run. These tracks (Michigan) are certainly one of those, and Kevin Harvick, his team is probably the fastest week in and week out.”

Harvick's team uses the Hendrick engines, which helps explain why he is so good this season. Even though Hendrick has won the past five races, we shouldn't forget about the Penske cars of Keselowski and Joey Logano - owners of three wins combined.     

That horsepower advantage that Hendrick has will mean very little this weekend on the road course at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California, where it's more about the driver than any race on the season. Although, Hendrick's Jeff Gordon is one of the best road course drivers in NASCAR history with five wins at Sonoma and four others at Watkins Glen. However, the last time he won a road race was at Sonoma in 2006.

The No. 24 team used to spend a lot of time and effort into getting the perfect set-up for the two road courses, but because it represents only two races a season, they have used most of their efforts in the garage to perfecting their cars on down-force tracks, which is part of the reason why the entire Hendrick team, including Harvick's engine, is excelling right now.       

Over the past nine seasons of racing at Sonoma there have been nine different winners. Prior to that stretch, it was the Gordon and Tony Stewart show as they combined to win seven of the previous nine. Some of the names that have won lately there aren’t typically known for their road course exploits. We’re at the point now where we have perhaps the greatest diversity on road course racing that we have ever seen. And we haven’t even seen road course ace Marcos Ambrose win here yet.

Ambrose is a two-time winner on the faster Watkins Glen layout, but has yet to win on the technical course at Sonoma with all its elevation changes. By no means is Sonoma's 1.99-mile 10 turn layout too tough for Ambrose, he just hasn’t had things fall his way. Still, he’s finished eighth or better in his last five starts and is the driver to beat on Sunday.

Harvick has been fast everywhere this season with his new Stewart-Haas team and there’s no reason to expect things to change this week. Harvick won at Watkins Glen in 2006 and he’s been consistently good at Sonoma with a career best second-place finish there in 2007.

Stewart is going to win soon and the road course would be an ideal spot for him to bounce back. He’s won seven times on the roads, including twice at Sonoma. He’s been runner-up there in two of the past five seasons, but hasn’t won since 2005.

Kurt Busch won in 2011, was third in 2012 and finished fourth last season. That's two different program with almost the same type of success. Now he's with his third different team and chances are he'll run well again.

Clint Bowyer captured a Sonoma win in 2012 and his 9.1 average finish on the track is second only to Gordon’s 8.1 average. Look for Bowyer to run well and there should be a wide variety of odds to choose from on him before final practices run on Friday. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #4 Kevin Harvick (8/1)
2) #15 Clint Bowyer (18/1)
3) #9 Marcos Ambrose (5/1)
4) #24 Jeff Gordon (7/1)
5) #41 Kurt Busch (7/1)

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Chassis Selections
Jayski.com

#1-Jamie McMurray: chassis not reported on race preview.
#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis for Sonoma is PRS-901, which last raced at Martinsville and finished 38th. The Backup Chassis is PRS-853 which was last used as a backup at Dover.
#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot Chassis No. 469 in the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. This is the first time that Dillon will race this Dow Powerhouse Solar Chevrolet this season. Dillon has never competed at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course and has never competed in a road course race on the Sprint Cup Series circuit. However, the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion has six road course races to his credit in the Nationwide Series, earning two top-10 finishes, including a career-high ninth at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2012 and 10th at Road America in 2013.
#4-Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 873 in Sunday's race at Sonoma - a new chassis from the SHR shop. Harvick and the team tested the car last month at Virginia International Raceway, a road-course facility located in Alton, VA. Harvick has 13 prior NSCS starts at Sonoma. During that span, he has earned three top fives and five top-10 finishes and has an average start of 16.3 and an average finish of 15.6.
#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-876 for Sunday's race at Sonoma. This is a brand new chassis that has never been raced before. In 10 Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma, Kahne has one win, two top-five finishes, three top-10s and has completed 98.2 percent of all laps attempted at the track (1,087 of 1,107 total). The driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS has started in the top 10 six times in his last eight races at the 1.99-mile road course, including two pole positions in 2008 and 2010. Kahne visited Sonoma's Victory Lane in June 2009, when he started from the fifth position and led 37 laps en route to his sole career victory at the California track.
#7-Michael Annett chassis not reported on race preview.
#9-Marcos Ambrose: chassis not reported on race preview.
#10-Danica Patrick will pilot Chassis No. 10-759 which was first used by Patrick in June 2013 at Sonoma Raceway, where she started 31st and finished 29th. It was then used in August at Watkins Glen, where she started 35th and finished 20th.
#11-Denny Hamlin: chassis not reported on race preview.
#12-Ryan Blaney: Primary Chassis for Michigan is PRS-919, which is a new chassis.
#13-Casey Mears: chassis not reported on race preview.
#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-874 is a brand-new racecar. However, it was tested May 27 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, in preparation for this weekend's event at Sonoma. Stewart has a pole, two wins, three second-place finishes, five top-fives, nine top-10s and has led a total of 82 laps in his 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma. His average start at the 1.99-mile, 10-turn road course is 11.1, his average finish is 12.0 and he has a lap completion rate of 98.7 percent.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Chassis No. 767 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Sonoma Raceway. He raced it to a fifth-place finish at Sonoma and a sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen in 2013. Chassis No. 770 serves as the back-up chassis and hasn't been raced. Since February 2012 Clint Bowyer owns the best average finish among NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers at road courses (4.0) as well as the best average finish at Sonoma (3.0). Bowyer holds the second-best average finish among drivers, 9.1, to Jeff Gordon's 8.2.
#16-Greg Biffle: and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M team will run chassis RK-916 which is a brand new chassis. The backup chassis RK-764 has been with the team for a few years, first hitting the track in 2011. Biffle has 11 Sprint Cup career starts at Sonoma, earning two top-five and five top-10 finishes. His average finish at Sonoma is 14.3 from an average starting position of 15.3. Biffle has finished on the lead lap in all but one start at Sonoma, and that was his very first start back in 2003.
#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: and the #17 Ecopower Re-Refined Oil Ford Fusion team will be using primary chassis RK- 919 at Sonoma, which is a brand new chassis. The backup chassis is RK- 758 which was the back-up chassis for road course races in 2013. Last year despite never running a single lap at the 1.99-mile 11-turn road course, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fought his way to a 27th-place finish in Sunday's Save-mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Stenhouse Jr. will have extra seat time this weekend as he will be running the #99 machine in the K&N West race.
#18-Kyle Busch: chassis not reported on race preview.
#20-Matt Kenseth: chassis not reported on race preview.
#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis is PRS-902 for Sonoma, which last raced at Martinsville and finished 4th. The Backup Chassis is PRS-858 which was last used as a backup at Dover.
#24-Jeff Gordon: crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-878 for this Sunday's race. This is a new chassis that has not been raced. The native of Vallejo, California, tops the following statistical categories at the serpentine track: wins (five), poles (five), top-five finishes (13), top-10s (17), laps led (454) and average finish (8.2). Gordon is the all-time leader in NASCAR road course victories with nine. Along with five wins at Sonoma, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has visited Victory Lane four times at Watkins Glen International in New York.
#27-Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 470 in the 218.9-mile event at Sonoma Raceway. This #27 Richmond / Menards Chevrolet SS is a new addition to the Richard Childress Racing stable in 2014. Menard has six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Sonoma Raceway. His best start of third came in 2011 and best finish of 14th came in 2013. The Wisconsin native has completed 666 of 667 laps attempted (99.9 percent).
#31-Ryan Newman will drive chassis No. 471 on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Chassis No. 471 is brand new and will take to the track during Friday's two scheduled practice sessions. In 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course, Newman owns two top-five and five top-10 finishes. He has led 11 laps and completed all 1,327 laps of competition. The South Bend, Ind., native has an average start of 13th and average finish of 13th. In the last six races at the road course, the RCR driver ranks fifth in most points earned.
#34-David Regan chassis not reported on race preview.
#36-Reed Sorenson chassis not reported on race preview.
#38-David Gilliland chassis not reported on race preview.
#41-Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 661 in Sunday's SaveMart 350k at Sonoma Raceway. Chassis No. 661 served as a backup chassis at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen in 2013 as a #39 Chevrolet driven by former SHR driver Ryan Newman.
#42-Kyle Larson: chassis not reported on race preview.
#43-Aric Almirola:: chassis not reported on race preview.
#47-A.J. Allmendinger chassis not reported on race preview.
#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-875, which is a brand new car. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-801, which Johnson most recently raced in last season at Watkins Glen International. In 12 starts at Sonoma, Johnson has one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS has led 85 circuits around the 1.99-mile track.
#55-Brian Vickers: Primary 772 never raced but Vickers tested this car at Sonoma on March 25 & 26. Backup 771 never raced.
#78-Martin Truex Jr. chassis not reported on race preview.
#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-747. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis at Watkins Glen International in August 2013. In 14 Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt has posted six top-15 finishes and completed 94.3 percent of all the laps he's attempted (1,463 laps of 1,551 total). He has scored a career-best 11th-place finish three times at the 1.99-mile road course and last recorded this result in 2010. Earnhardt most recently rallied from a 26th starting position to finish 12th at the California track in June 2013.
#95-Michael McDowell: will drive Chassis No. PRS-834 in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. This Ford Fusion is new to the Wally Rogers-led team.
#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Aflac Ford team will unload primary chassis RK-917 which is a new chassis. The backup chassis is RK-853 which was last run at Watkins Glen in 2013, finishing in fourth. Edwards is looking for his first win at the road course. He has a career-high finish of third in both 2011 and 2013. Edwards has 9 Sprint Cup starts at Sonoma with an average start of 17.8 and an average finish of 15.6. Edwards has finished in the top-five two times and in the top-ten four times.

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Driver Handicaps: Sonoma
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

MRN.com's detailed notes and statistics to help you set your fantasy racing lineup for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Who's HOT at Sonoma
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with five wins and has finished in the top 10 in his last eight starts.
• Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in the last five races, including a win in 2010.
• Marcos Ambrose has a 5.8 average finish in his last five starts.
• Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer each have finished in the top five in their last three starts, including wins for both in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
• Kevin Harvick has posted an average finish of 9.5 in his last four starts.
• Two-time winner Tony Stewart has two runner-up finishes in his five starts with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Sonoma

• AJ Allmendinger tested at Sonoma earlier this month as he gets ready to make his first track start with JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished ninth in his last Sonoma start in 2012 with Team Penske.
• Ambrose, Gordon Stewart, Kyle Busch (2008 winner) and Brian Vickers participated in the Goodyear tire test at Sonoma in March.
• Joey Logano, who has a 9.0 average finish in his last three Sonoma starts, tested with teammate Brad Keselowski at Road Atlanta.
• Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. will make his first Sonoma start with Furniture Row Racing.
• Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who both tested at Virginia International Raceway, will look to bounce back from a disappointing outing at Michigan International Speedway last weekend by each debuting new cars at Sonoma.
• Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett will each run in Saturday's NASCAR K&N race to gain more experience at Sonoma. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will be making his second Cup start at Sonoma, will also run in the K&N race.
• Ryan Newman and Dillon both tested at Virginia International Raceway.
• Kasey Kahne is coming off his third top 10 in his last five Sonoma starts, which includes a win in
2009.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be looking to carry the momentum of three consecutive top 10s on the season into Sonoma, which is the only track he's yet to score a top-10 finish at.

Tire Notes: Teams will run a new tire code this weekend based off a test that was conducted in March at Sonoma with drivers Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers. Versus last season, the new tire features a compound change designed to give the cars more grip.

MRN.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Marcos Ambrose
Pete Pistone: Kurt Busch
Dustin Long:Tony Stewart
John Singler: Jimmie Johnson

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

Jeff Gordon:
Leads all drivers in a number of statistical categories at Sonoma including wins (five), average finish (8.2), top fives (13), top 10s (17), laps led (454) and poles (five). Gordon has finished ninth or better in every race dating back to his last win in 2006 and participated in the Goodyear Tire test back in March. This weekend, he will debut a new car (chassis No. 878) in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Jimmie Johnson: Has finished in the top 10 in his last five Sonoma starts, including a win in 2010. Johnson will debut a new car (chassis No. 875) for the first road-course race of the season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Is looking to carry the momentum of three consecutive top 10s on the season into Sonoma, which is the only track where he's yet to score a top-10 finish. Earnhardt has finished 11th three times, most recently in 2010. This weekend, he will return in the same car (chassis No. 747) that he last finished 30th with at Watkins Glen International in 2013.

Matt Kenseth: Last season, Kenseth finished 19th in his first Sonoma start for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth's lone top 10 in 14 overall starts came in 2008 with Roush Fenway Racing. Sonoma is the only track on the circuit where Kenseth has not led a lap.

Brad Keselowski: Has posted one top 10 and a 19.5 average finish in four starts at Sonoma. He tested at Road Atlanta last month in preparation for the first road race of the season. This weekend, Keselowski will return in the same car (chassis No. 901) that he finished 38th with at Martinsville Speedway.

Carl Edwards: Has finished third in two of the last three races at Sonoma. Edwards will look to bounce back from a disappointing day at Michigan International Speedway with another good run at Sonoma, after recently completing a test at Virginia International Raceway. This weekend, Edwards will debut a new car (chassis No. 917).

Joey Logano: Finished 11th last year in his first Sonoma start with Team Penske. Logano posted one pole and two top-10 finishes in his previous four starts with Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano, who tested at Road Atlanta, will return in the same car (chassis No. 902) that he finished fourth with at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Larson: Making his first road-course Sprint Cup Series start this weekend. Larson will get some extra track time by running in Saturday's K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma.

Kevin Harvick: Coming off his fifth top 10 - and third in the last four races - in 13 starts at Sonoma. Harvick tested at Virginia International raceway in preparation for his first road-course start with Stewart-Haas Racing. The car (chassis No. 873) Harvick will race in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 is a new one and is the same one he tested.

Kyle Busch: Has not finished in the top 10 at Sonoma since winning in 2008. Busch was one of five drivers that participated in the Goodyear Tire test in March and will look to turn around a disappointing 35th-place finish there last season.

Ryan Newman: Did not finish in the top 10 in his five Sonoma starts driving a Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Newman's last of five top 10s came in 2008, when he was driving for Team Penske. Newman, who participated in the test at Virginia International Raceway, will debut a new car (Chassis No. 471) when he makes his first track start with Richard Childress Racing in Sunday's race.

Denny Hamlin: Has posted an average finish of 32.3 since his last Sonoma top-10 finish (fifth) in 2009.

Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in six starts. Menard will debut a new car (chassis No. 470) this weekend.

Clint Bowyer: Has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts, including a win in 2012. Bowyer will be back in the same car (chassis No. 767) that he finished fifth and sixth with in the two road-course races last season.

Greg Biffle: Has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four Sonoma starts. Like his teammates, Biffle will look to rebound from a disappointing outing at Michigan with a good run at Sonoma after testing at Virginia Motorsports Park. Biffle's car (chassis No. 916) for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 is new to the Roush Fenway Racing stable.

Tony Stewart: Has finished in the top 10 three times in his five Sonoma starts with Stewart-Haas Racing, including two runner-up efforts. Stewart's last of two wins came in 2005 with Joe Gibbs Racing and his 12.0 average finish ranks second among drivers that have raced in 15 or more races. Not only did Stewart take part in the Goodyear Tire test in March, but he also tested at Road Atlanta last month in the same car (chassis No. 874) he's racing this weekend.

Austin Dillon: Will be making his first road-course Sprint Cup Series start this weekend. Dillon will get some extra track time by running in Saturday's K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma. Dillon tested at Virginia International Raceway and will debut a new car (chassis No. 469) for the weekend.

Brian Vickers: Best finishes in eight starts have come in his two Sonoma starts with Michael Waltrip Racing, fourth and 13th. Vickers will return in the same car (chassis No. 772) that he participated in the Goodyear Tire test with back in March.

Kasey Kahne:
Coming off third top 10 in his last five Sonoma starts, which include a win in 2009. Kahne has posted a 10.0 average finish in two starts with Hendrick Motorsports and will debut a new car (chassis No. 876) in Sunday's race.

Jamie McMurray:
Won the pole and finished 25th at Sonoma last season. McMurray's lone top 10 in 11 starts came in 2004.

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Toyota-Save Mart 350 Post-Practice Notes
By: Micah Roberts 
Sportingnews.com

What a breath of fresh air it is to talk about road course racing this week, not only because it's a treat to see so many drivers out of their element making right and left turns, but also because we have an entirely new cast of quality candidates to win which would break Hendrick Motorsports five-race winning streak.

There have been nine different winners at Sonoma Raceway the past nine seasons, and Sunday's race could easily be the 10th straight as we have Kevin Harvick and Marcos Ambrose rated as two of the top four candidates to win Sunday's Toyota-Save Mart 350.

For the past five races, all the talk has been about horsepower and how the Hendrick Chevy engines have the most of it, but when monitoring the speeds from Friday's two practice sessions and Saturday's qualifying, the four Hendrick cars aren't in the conversation much.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was surprisingly good on Friday for a driver that didn't do any road course testing prior to this week's race, but no top-10 finishes in 14 career starts at Sonoma makes him somewhat of a leper at the sports books. Jeff Gordon has finished second in two of the past three Sonoma events, but the last of his NASCAR-best nine road course wins came in 2006. Jimmie Johnson, winner of three of the past four Cup races and 2010 Sonoma winner, was surprisingly slow on Friday with his fastest lap only 21st best.

There are more drivers than ever that have a chance at winning Sunday, and most of them can be found from a top-10 starting positing where 18 of the 25 (72 percent) Sonoma races have been won from. Eight of those 25 races have been won from the front row. The furthest a driver has started to win at Sonoma is 32nd by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007.

Of course, the double-file restarts have given drivers in the back a better opportunity to move up quicker in recent years, but with passing so difficult and only a few key spots on the 1.99-mile 10 turn course to make those passes, being near the front gives drivers the best opportunity to win just like we see in most Formula-1 races.

The driver that stands out the most based on what happened Friday and Saturday is Kurt Busch, who is making his third straight Sonoma start with a different team. It hasn't mattered what car Busch has been in, whether it's been the No. 97 Ford, the No. 2 Dodge, No. 78 Chevy or the No. 41 Chevy, Busch has a great feel for the track and has had the second best Loop Rating (107.8) since NASCAR began collecting loads of data at each track in 2005.

Busch won in 2011, meaning if he wins Sunday, it would halt Sonoma's different winner streak at nine. In 2012, he came close with a third place finish and last season he was fourth. It's quite possible that his Stewart-Haas car he's using this week is better than all of the cars he used the past three seasons.

Clint Bowyer might have been the top-rated driver to win this week had he qualified better than 25th on Saturday. Despite the poor start, Bowyer should be one of those cars that moves up quickly, and if he can stay out of danger's way while bunched up with the lesser cars in the middle of the pack, he should be competing for the win with fewer than 20 laps to go. His poor starting position should offer some great value at the sports books. We left off our list a few of the fastest drivers in qualifying such as Jamie McMurray, A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Larson only because their past history at Sonoma didn't merit being ahead of anyone in our top-10. Allmendinger, however, is very adept on the roads and you couldn't be faulted for taking a shot with him at the bet window if getting decent odds.

Another long shot to seriously consider that would make it 10 straight different winners at Sonoma is Bowyer's teammate Brian Vickers. The Michael Waltrip Racing program has won the past two seasons at Sonoma and both Bowyer and Vickers appear to have similar winning type of set-ups. The big difference between the two teams is that Vickers has a much more favorable start position.

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

Sonoma Story Lines
By: Dustin Long
Racingone.com

SONOMA, Calif. - To pit or not to pit, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer with older tires, the slings and arrows from those with fresher tires. Or to take arms with fresher tires in the middle of the pack against a sea of troubles.

OK, Shakespeare never had to ponder such thoughts, but crew chiefs will during today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

The key question will be when to pit and how often in the 110-lap race on this twisting and tormenting road course.

“You’re always in an awkward position with pit strategy,’’ said Brian Vickers, who starts eighth. “You’re right on that window between two and three stops.’’

Adding to the dilemma is tire wear. Goodyear has a new tire for this track this and teams report that the falloff from the beginning of a run is significant.

So, a crew chief must decide if they want to be near the front but on older tires or if they want their driver further back in the pack where anything can happen but be on fresher tires.

“That’s what makes this place so fun is you can’t just flog the tires and run a flying lap every lap and expect to do well,’’ said Tony Stewart, who starts 21st. “You have to budget your tires. It is a challenge.

“There’s times when you want to be that guy on older tires and up front so you don’t have to worry about the chaos on the restarts. Then there’s time when you want to be that guy who has fresh tires that might restart 10th or 12th with 10 or 15 laps to go and be able to charge your way up through there.’’

Clint Bowyer, who held on with older tires to win this race two years ago, said he’ll never forget what it was like sliding around on those final laps.

“It was one challenge after another for so many laps,’’ he said.

It’s what someone could face today.

That’s just among the story lines at Sonoma.

Restart Madness

For as taxing as Sonoma’s technical course is, some drivers say the double-file restarts are the most difficult part of the race. After crossing the start/finish line, drivers soon have a left-hand turn that goes uphill to a blind right-hand turn. Contact can be common in these areas and in the high-braking corners of Turn 7 and Turn 11.

“I think we know that there is going to be chaos,’’ said Jimmie Johnson, who starts 22nd, about restarts. “In (Turns) 7 and 11, you go in there and you just put your head against the back of the headrest waiting to get drilled from behind.’’

Drivers often have a short-track mentality at Sonoma and that leads to the contact.

“Your fenders don’t matter as much as Watkins Glen, so people seem to use them up a little bit more,’’ said AJ Allmendinger, who starts second.

Middle of the Pack

Keep an eye on what is happening behind the leaders.

Marcos Ambrose, who had never started worse than eighth at Sonoma, qualified 23rd. Last year’s winner, Martin Truex Jr., starts 18th. Clint Bowyer, who won this race two years ago, starts 25th. Jeff Gordon starts 15th. He’s started worse only one other time in 21 previous races at Sonoma.

“I made one mistake off of (Turn) 4 and I think ultimately that cost us,’’ Gordon said. “The question and concern for us is how all these guys went out the second time and went so much faster. We’ll just get it ready to race. We’ve got a great race car.’’

Larson’s Weekend

Kyle Larson’s week started with him becoming the first person to receive a key to his hometown of Elk Grove, Calif., and continued with Tony Stewart saying Larson would learn a lesson one way or another for blocking last weekend at Michigan. Things improved for Larson when he qualified third for today’s race and won Saturday’s K&N Pro Series West race. What will he do today?

“Hopefully, I can stay up there for a little bit,’’ Larson said. “I'm sure I will fall back some in the beginning, especially when the tires wear out. I just have to stick with it, not get frustrated. Try to give-and-take as much as I can to maintain track position ... keep all four tires on track. The goal is to get a top 10."

A Perfect 10?

There have been nine different winners in the last nine races at Sonoma starting with Tony Stewart in 2005. Since, the winners have been Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

Will the streak continue?

Desperation

Some caution that the end of today’s race could become dicey especially if there is a driver or two still searching for their first win of the season near the front. There hasn’t been a new winner in the last three points races. Although 10 races remain after today, drivers looking for a win likely will be willing to take big chances. The question is if those chances pay off.

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Re: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Betting News and Notes

NASCAR tackles season’s 1st road course Sunday
By Brian Graham
Statfox.com

The NASCAR drivers take to the road, literally, when they tackle Sonoma’s road course on Sunday for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. The course was originally constructed in 1968 as a 2.52-mile course, but was re-designed in 1998 to the current 1.99 miles, increasing the distance of the event to its current 218.9 miles covering 110 laps. The course has 10 turns with varying elevation changes. Turn 3a reaches 174 feet, while Turn 10 is the lowest elevation at a mere 14 feet. Since 1998, Jeff Gordon has five wins on this track (1998-2000, 2004 and 2006), while Tony Stewart is the only other driver with multiple wins in this 15-race span, taking the checkered flag in 2001 and 2005. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending champion.

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon (6/1) –
Winning at Sonoma is all about experience, and Gordon certainly has that with five victories, 13 top-5’s and an average finish of 8.2 at this track, which are all easily the best among all drivers at this venue. He hasn’t won this road course since 2006, but Gordon continues to run with the front of the pack with finishes of 7th, 3rd, 9th, 5th, 2nd, 6th and 2nd in the seven Sonoma races since that last victory. The No. 24 car has been consistently excellent all season with top-10′s in 11-of-15 starts (73%) and only one finish outside the top-15 all year long (39th at Talladega). The payoff for the current points leader is understandably minimal, but Gordon is certainly worthy of your largest wager on Sunday.

Martin Truex, Jr. (35/1) – These are some pretty sweet odds for the defending champion of this race. Sure Truex has had an awful 2014 season, where he currently sits in 25th place in the standings with zero top-5 finishes, but he thrives at this kind of venue. In 16 career starts on road courses, he has seven top-10′s, including four top-5′s. This includes placing 8th at the 2011 Sonoma race and leading for 15 laps in the 2012 Sonoma race before last year’s victory. You won’t find any better value on the board than Truex, who is desperate for a strong showing to climb up the points standings.

Clint Bowyer (18/1) – This price is a lot more desirable than Bowyer’s 10-to-1 billing last year when he tried to defend his 2012 Sonoma win. Bowyer nearly paid off at that price with a fifth-place start and fifth-place finish, marking his fifth top-5 showing in eight career starts at this track. Bowyer’s 9.1 average finish at Sonoma trails only Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt among all drivers at this track. Bowyer is also quickly ascending in the points standings, jumping six places over his past three races where he has finished 4th, 11th and 10th at Michigan last week. This darkhorse is worthy of a small wager for Sunday’s race.

Kasey Kahne (18/1) – Over the past five races at Sonoma, only Jimmie Johnson (466) has earned more points than Kahne’s 447. This has been achieved with three top-6 finishes, including a win in 2009. He also won the pole in 2010 and placed sixth in last year’s installment. Kahne is also starting to turn his erratic 2014 season around with three top-8 finishes over his past six starts, which includes a fifth-place showing last week. With favorable darkhorse odds, don’t forget about the No. 5 car on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth (75/1) – Our longshot of the weekend has to go to Kenseth, whose odds have more than doubled from the 30-to-1 price he commanded last year. Kenseth has never won a road course in 28 tries, and has only five top-10′s at this type of venue, but has helped himself out with top-10 starting positions in seven of his past 12 races at Sonoma. He’s also in the midst of an excellent NASCAR season with 10 top-10′s and five top-5′s to put him currently in fourth place in the points standings. At 75-to-1, go ahead and drop a one-unit wager on this talented driver.

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