Saturday, June 23, 2012

Final 2012 Sonoma Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway
Sunday, June 24, 2012 -  12:16 pm (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds          Practice 1    Qualifying    Practice 2    Practice 3  
 1. Jeff Gordon 6/1                       1st               2nd              1st                1st 
Five-time winner; using best car he’s had on a road course since his last win in 2006.
 2. Marcos Ambrose 3/1              7th                1st              2nd               11th 
Finished sixth or better in past thee starts; fastest average speeds in final practice.
 3. Juan Pablo Montoya 8/1       22nd              12th             4th                3rd 
2007 winner and 2010 Watkins Glen winner; won on streets of Monaco in Formula-1.
 4. A.J. Allmendinger 40/1          11th              17th             3rd                5th 
Five time Champ Car winner on road/street circuits; driving for team that won in 2011.
 5. Jimmie Johnson 6/1              10th               3rd              7th                4th 
Using winning 2010 chassis this week; improving on roads, strong in all practice sessions.
 6. Kyle Busch 10/1                      5th               7th               6th               10th 
2008 winner who also won at Watkins Glen the same year. Consistently good in practice.
 7. Clint Bowyer 30/1                   3rd                6th               9th               14th 
Finished career best of fourth on three occasions; quick average speeds in practice.
 8. Carl Edwards 30/1                 13th              11th            16th                7th
Career best finish of third last season; using new car that tested on Virginia road course.
 9. Tony Stewart 6/1                   24th               24th            17th               21st 
Two-time winner with five other wins road wins at Watkins Glen; struggled in practice.
10. Brad Keselowski 25/1           15th              13th              5th               24th 
Career best of 10th last season, runner-up at Watkins Glen. Good average times in practice.

Note: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series only runs two road course races a season.

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 on Twitter @MicahRoberts7. 

Only two top tiered drivers for Sunday's race: Ambrose and Gordon (Getty) 
Betting Notes
Despite the road courses being more about the driver than the car like at other tracks, it doesn’t necessarily translate into long shots winning at the betting window. Sure, we’ve had a few surprises like Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson win at Sonoma in the recent past, but we still haven’t been shocked with a driver winning at 25-to-1 or higher odds.

This is why a betting strategy for Sonoma goes a little different than at other tracks. You have to respect the top speeds from practice a little more and wager upon fewer drivers. At Talladega or Daytona you can bet up to 10 drivers as various amounts and feel comfortable about the possibly hitting a driver with huge odds. At places like Charlotte or Texas, you can narrow it down to about four or five drivers.

When we hit the road courses, you have to decrease the amount of play on other drivers because the top drivers have such low odds. If playing more than two or three drivers at Sonoma, it severely decreases your profit margin when the favorite does win.

In this weeks case, a favorite should win and his name is Jeff Gordon. After everything we’ve seen over the weekend in practice, there really isn’t another logical choice than Gordon to begin all wagering strategies with. Finding 6-to-1 odds like Gordon was most of the week is now going to be tough to find.

Following Gordon, Marcos Ambrose is the next best choice. If betting both of those drivers, you’ve got a great chance to win, but at the lowest odds offered on the board. So it’s almost like you have to choose one of those top tiered drivers and then take a shot with longer odds from drivers like A.J. Allmendinger or Juan Pablo Montoya.

The area to play around with a little bit more than the odds to win is in driver matchups. You want a good quality finish and try to find the biggest mismatches. Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer should both be drivers to key on that should fare well. Tony Stewart had a terrible bunch of practices, but it’s likely his prices will be drastically dropped because of those poor practices which in turn, offers value on one of the best road racers out there.

Another driver that may have odds stacked against him because of history and mediocre practices is Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’s never had a top-10 finish at Sonoma, but he’s also never had a consistent run on every type of track like he’s had this year. Junior leads all drivers with 12 top-10 finishes this season.


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