This has been quite an interesting race weekend, to say the least, so far. With the second time in a matter of weeks, the Sprint Cup teams head to yet another track (www.mispeedway.com/) that has been repaved, and the speeds created were a welcome site for all NASCAR fans. However, after the last of the four practice sessions (two tests on Thursday and two race practices on Friday), NASCAR and Goodyear decided to bring another set of left side tires due to the blistering of the original ones caused after any consecutive run of 12 to 15 laps. Not all teams experienced this, but it was still enough to warrant a change.
With that happening, the teams will all have another practice session in order to figure out how these tires will change the balance of their cars, which will of course impact the way how these teams will have to re-set up their initial set ups. This last tire combination was used at Charlotte Motor Speedway back in 2006 when they had recently repaved that track following their last race the year before. Here is a great article breaking all this down from MRN.
All we can do at this point is take the four on-track sessions and go from there in terms of figuring out the race favorites for this weekend. This last practice may or may not change the odds, but I doubt that it would be anything significant from the adjusted LVH odds that came out after both practices on Friday.
So let’s go with that while looking at the LVH’s opening odds and their adjusted odds from Friday. Let’s stick with the same format but also switch it up some, as the “Contenders”, “Pretenders” and “Sleepers” were based upon the odds available. Let’s get now go with who really has a chance to get to Victory Lane even if the odds are not that attractive.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at 12-to-1: These odds seemed low to me at first, but after last weekend’s race and this team’s overall performance this season, it would be tough to hang a number any higher. After the four sessions, this number dropped to 10-1 for good reason, but with this No. 88 car’s qualifying effort, perhaps we’ll see a small adjustment upwards. I doubt it, but if so, this driver and team are ready to win and there will be no better venue (last win four years ago this weekend) for them to pull this off. **UPDATE** Dale Jr. is unhappy with the new left side tires and was disappointed that his team had to end yesterday's late practice early because they had reached their engine limit. Said they were not right and needed more track time.
Mark Martin at 30-to-1: This driver was not pleased with the move that the eventual race winner Joey Logano put on him late in last week’s race. However, that is Pocono, repaved or not. Does anyone remember the move Jeremy Mayfield pulled off on Dale Earnhardt, Sr. at this track back in 2000? Just a touch…just a little tap..tap..tapperoo. Martin and his Michael Waltrip Racing team have been very fast once again through all sessions, and should be near the front at the end of this race. His odds were dropped to 15-to-1, but if that number is still available, you have to pull the trigger.
|Outside of Martin or Dale Jr, this car looks strong. (Getty)|
Kasey Kahne at 12-to-1: This driver and team looked like serious contenders last week, but they were unfortunate once again. They have been fast once again and look like yet another Hendrick Motorsports team that could see the checkers come Sunday. Kahne was right there with both Martin and Earnhardt, Jr. in all sessions and should be considered a contender as well as this team been running lately. **UPDATE** Kahne won both races at Charlotte in 2006 when they used this left side tire. He's looking real good.
The possible “Sleepers” have to include Marcos Ambrose, who opened at 100-to-1 and remained the same after the sessions that concluded on Friday. However, this car took the Coors’ Light Pole earlier on Saturday afternoon, so based upon the odds, he has to be looked at. I would think, based upon Ambrose’s history overall on these type of tracks, and of course the history of Richard Petty Motorsports, his odds would only drop to the 40-to-1 range. Regardless, with the way this team has been running lately, 100-to-1 is pretty silly even if he is unlikely to get the checkered flag, but at 40-1 or better, he has to be given a look.
In closing, while we have yet another brand new surface at Michigan, which has been and always will be about the top teams, this race will come down to crew chief’s that can figure out this new surface and new left side tires and what do do on pit road in terms of four tires or two tires. It’s a long race, so do not be surprised to see fuel and, of course tires, be a major factor tomorrow.
Surprise winner? Very possible of course, but it still looks like the No. 55 and the No. 88 should be right up there at the end. **UPDATE** Looks like Biffle and Kahne have vaulted themselves up there with Mark Martin while Dale Jr. has dropped down.
Let's have a great and hopefully profitable Michigan Sunday everyone! And HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all! Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or post any comments on this site or follow me on twitter @FredCnote.
Frederic Crespi has been in the Las Vegas sports book industry since 1994 and has been making numbers on NASCAR since 2002.