Saturday, March 31, 2012

Final 2012 Martinsville Goody's Fast Relief 500 Driver Ratings

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Goody’s Fast Relief 500
Martinsville Speedway
Sunday, April 1, 2012 - 10:16 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds      Practice 1    Practice 2    Qualified    Fall ‘11*

 1. Jeff Gordon 7/1                  1st              1st                 9th          3rd
Seven-time winner with 15 top-5 finishes in last 18 starts; thoroughly dominated practices.
 2. Denny Hamlin 4/1              3rd             27th              3rd          5th
Four-time winner with nine top-5 finishes in last 11 starts; top average speed in practice 1.
 3. Kevin Harvick 10/1            12th           14th              2nd          4th
2011 spring winner with 2.6 average finish in last three starts; great average lap times in practice.
 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 15/1      4th             18th             14th         7th
Two-time runner-up with nine top-5 finishes; using Martinsville runner-up car from last spring.  
 5. Tony Stewart 6/1                7th             23rd             15th          1st
Three-time winner, including last fall and is using the same winning chassis this week.
 6. Ryan Newman 25/1            5th              4th               5th          10th
Strong in practice using winning Loudon chassis that also led 44 laps at Martinsville last year.
 7. Jimmie Johnson 9/2          38th            16th            22nd          2nd
Six-time winner with average finish of 5.5 in 20 starts; using runner-up chassis from last fall.
 8. Brad Keselowski 20/1        11th             3rd               7th          17th
Fresh off a short track win at Bristol two races ago, fast average speeds in both practices.
 9. Clint Bowyer 25/1                9th            17th               4th         19th
Best finish was fifth in 2009, but has consistent 15.1 average finish in 12 starts; good practices.
10. Kyle Busch 6/1                   2nd             29th              8th          27th
Six top-5 finishes, including third last spring. His tenacity always suits him well on short tracks.

* Results from October 30, 2011 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, the last race run on the track.

Note: Only two scheduled Friday practice sessions with qualifying run on Saturday.

Odds courtesy of the LVH Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former sports book director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights and post-practice analysis on the race, go to, or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.

Hoping for a great Earnhardt Jr run on Sunday (Getty)
Betting Notes:
After watching what Jeff Gordon did on Friday, he has to be at the top of the list in any handicapping equation followed by Denny Hamlin. Drivers with a little higher odds that should compete well include Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski. I will personally make the most cash this week if Junior wins, so that will be who I root for the most.

There aren’t too many surprises at Martinsville over the last decade which is a dramatic change from how things used to be. It wasn’t uncommon to see lower funded teams come in and win races at high paying odds offered by the sports books. Drivers like Ricky Rudd, Bobby Hamilton, John Andretti and Ricky Craven all paid out large odds of 30-to-1 or higher, but since 2003 it’s been the Johnson, Gordon and Hamlin trio that have hogged most of the wins at low prices.

As for Johnson this week, he looks about as bad as can ever be remembered during practice and qualifying at Martinsville. However, when the day is over, you’ll likely still see Johnson somewhere in the top-10 making the most out of what appears to be a sluggish car. I wouldn’t recommend betting against Johnson in match-ups unless the chalk was way overpriced against him.

Match-up of the week: Joey Logano vs. Greg Biffle
The LVH Super Book had this a pick ‘em prior to the weekend and while it’s hard to ignore Biffle’s great start to the season, it’s also hard to ignore both of their past history at Martinsville. This has been one of Logano’s best overall tracks in his three years on tour in the Cup series while Biffle has never had a top-5 finish on the track. Logano’s average practice times went well enough to make the play on him against several drivers, including Biffle, a confident one. 

Martinsville Starting Lineup

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