Friday, April 27, 2012

Final Richmond Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Capital City 400
Richmond International Raceway
Saturday, April 28, 2012 -  4:46 pm (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds         Practice 1   Practice 2   Qualified    Phoenix*

 1. Kyle Busch 5/1                     23rd             5th              5th           6th
Won last three spring races; has a track best average finish of 5th in 14 career starts.
 2. Clint Bowyer 25/1                  4th              6th            23rd          30th
2008 winner with 10.5 average finish; was the star of both practices using Phoenix car.
 3. Denny Hamlin 6/1                10th            15th             7th            1st
Two-time fall winner with a second best 7.6 average finish position for the native Virginian.
 4. Jimmie Johnson 7/1              6th            11th            27th           4th
Three-time winner, the last coming in fall of 2008, with 17.6 average finish; using new car.
 5. Mark Martin 30/1                   1st             13th            1st            9th
1990 winner with 17 top-5’s and average finish of 12.2; had second best overall practices.
 6. Kevin Harvick 9/1                 12th            25th            3rd           2nd
Two-time winner, including last fall, with average finish of 11.5; using runner-up Phoenix chassis.
 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 20/1        15th             1st            10th         14th
Three-time winner, the last coming in 2006, with an average finish of 14.4; using Phoenix chassis.
 8. Martin Truex Jr. 30/1            11th            20th            8th           7th
Best finish of fifth came in 2008, but is currently in great form had great average practice speeds.
 9. Jeff Gordon 8/1                     14th              4th            6th           8th
Two-time winner, last coming in 2000, with average finish of 14.5 that includes 24 top-10’s.
10. Brad Keselowski 12/1           8th             12th          16th           5th
Ran more practice laps than anyone in both sessions with fast 10 consecutive lap averages.

* Results from the Phoenix Cup race held March 4, 2012, a track that translates well to Richmond because of its similar banking and size.

Note: Practice 1 was a two-hour session that offered the most valuable data of the two practices.   

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.

Denny Hamlin won at Phoenix in March (Getty)

Betting Notes
This race should probably come down to Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch again, just as it did last spring when they finished 1-2. They weren’t necessarily the stars of practice, but Kyle Busch showed enough on longer runs to suggest he’ll be back up to his usual Richmond self and Hamlin has all that winning information from Phoenix, a track that translates very well to Richmond.

The stars of Friday’s practices were Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and to a degree, Brad Keselowski, all of whom are worth taking a shot at with some of the high prices offered between them. Bowyer not only has a great history at the track, but looked to be the star in practice. Same goes for Martin who goes for his first win at Richmond since 1990, yes, over two decades ago.

Keselowski’s team found all kinds of good stuff in practice as they were fast in single laps, average times and 10-consecutive lap averages while running the most laps. If I had to pick one driver to knock off the Gibbs duo, it probably would be the No. 2 car.

Matchup of the Week: Brad Keselowski +110 vs. Kasey Kahne
For all the reasons above, I like Keselowski in this match-up, on top of his great Phoenix run. It gets even better if getting plus-money.

You never want to bet against Jimmie Johnson, but over the years he’s been kind of feast or famine which is why he has such a high average finish at Richmond. He’ll be matched up against several top tier drivers that might present some value.

I also find it hard to back Greg Biffle here even though he’s on a career run. He hasn’t finished inside the top-10 since 2006 and just by the law of averages, a bad luck race always hit’s the points leader at some juncture and Richmond seems like the ideal spot for him to experience his.  

Starting Lineup

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