Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 10:16 am (PDT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Practice 2 Qualified Las Vegas*
1. Jimmie Johnson 6/1 29th 1st 15th 2nd
Two-time winner, including last fall, with 8.4 average finish in 11 starts; new chassis this week.
2. Tony Stewart 6/1 7th 13th 23rd 1st
Two-time winner; using winning California chassis, which was a clone of winning Las Vegas car.
3. Greg Biffle 8/1 30th 4th 17th 3rd
Two-time winner with track best 8.3 average finish in 11 starts; using third-place Las Vegas car.
4. Matt Kenseth 8/1 13th 9th 18th 22nd
Career best fourth-place finish last fall; using Las Vegas chassis that ran well despite results.
5. Martin Truex Jr. 30/1 26th 3rd 6th 17th
Throw past history out window, never had cars this fast on a weekly basis; strong final practice.
6. Kasey Kahne 12/1 3rd 24th 9th 19th
Career best runner-up last fall; top 10-consecutive lap average in final practice using new car.
7. Carl Edwards 10/1 2nd 12th 21st 5th
Sixth or better in six of nine starts; might have been best practices of season using new chassis.
8. Jeff Gordon 10/1 10th 37th 20th 12th
Two-time winner with seven top-5 finishes in 12 starts; encouraging long runs at Texas last week.
9. Mark Martin 35/1 19th 2nd 5th 18th
2005 winner with 13.1 average finish; second best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice.
10. Kyle Busch 10/1 1st 32nd 25th 23rd
Best finish of seventh in nine starts, but saw signs of life in long runs near end of final practice.
* Results from Las Vegas Motor Speedway Cup race held March 11, 2012, a track that is the most similar to Kansas among all 2012 races run thus far.
Note: Practice 1 was almost a throwaway as far as times are concerned because several top drivers gave the appearance of sand-bagging to better position themselves for optimum starting order in qualifying.
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 VegasInsider.com, TheLinemakers.com or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.
This race kind of has the make up of last week’s race at Texas, except for one notable entry: Tony Stewart is back. After taking a week off from competing at a high level, we can expect to Stewart back in the mix this week based on his Friday practices. Between the car he’s using, average speeds, 10-lap averages and just being confident, Stewart should be contending for the win. But he’ll have to run through Johnson and Biffle to get it, both drivers who have a tremendous amount of momentum coming into Sunday’s race.
Because the odds are so low on those three drivers, the greedy side in all of us should be looking at the Michael Waltrip drivers, in particular Martin Truex Jr and Mark Martin. Both had very fast cars in practice showing once again that MWR isn’t just getting lucky with engine or set-up performance in a one or two race stretch.
A driver kind of going unnoticed who has had his odds raised from his normal standard has been Carl Edwards. Because this track is 130 miles west of his home town, he says that this is the number one race on his priority list among all races. Whatever he said during the week obviously inspired his crew because he ran practice like the old Edwards, and not the one that has struggled this year.
This Kasey Kahne has been a constant thorn in my side all season. He’s like the girl you meet in bar that looks like a ‘10’ after having a couple drinks and then when sobering up realize she’s a 3 ½. I’ve been fooled all season with Kahne and his great practices, but still stubbornly think he’s going to win so I’m in constant search for odds reflected by a bookmaker that thinks he’s a 3 ½.
Matchup of the Week: Mark Martin EV vs. Clint Bowyer
I really like the fact that Bowyer is from Kansas and he’s routinely run well on the track, but the reality of it is that Martin’s car looks far superior to Bowyer’s, just as it did last week in Texas. Anything laying -120 or less is great value here.
STP 400 Starting Lineup