Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, July 29, 2012 - 10:16 am (PDT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Practice 2 Qualified Pocono*
1. Jimmie Johnson 6/1 4th 6th 6th 4th
Three-time winner, the last coming in 2009; using winning Dover chassis this week.
2. Denny Hamlin 10/1 20th 10th 1st 5th
Career best of third in 2008; excels at Pocono (4 wins) making him a top candidate to win.
3. Kyle Busch 12/1 21st 13th 7th 30th
Career best of fourth in 2007; outstanding practices, including best 10-consecutive lap average.
4. Joey Logano 30/1 35th 3rd 3rd 1st
Winning at Pocono last month, coupled with a great final practice makes him a serious contender.
5. Greg Biffle 10/1 16th 1st 5th 24th
Finished eighth or better in last four Indy starts; using brand new chassis this week.
6. Kasey Kahne 12/1 1st 4th 15th 29th
2005 runner-up; top practices among all Chevrolet’s, the manufacturer to win last 9 Indy races.
7. Mark Martin 15/1 2nd 15th 19th 2nd
Two-time runner-up; excellent Pocono run translated well to Saturday practices.
8. Jeff Gordon 10/1 3rd 8th 9th 19th
Four-time winner, runner-up last season. In desperation mode like never before in career.
9. Brad Keselowski 15/1 5th 11th 22nd 18th
Career best ninth last season; solid practices using a brand new car; won at Pocono last fall.
10. Matt Kenseth 10/1 8th 5th 10th 7th
Two-time runner up, finished fifth last season. Using third-place Michigan chassis this week.
* Results from the Pocono 400 held June 10, 2012. Pocono Raceway’s 2.5 mile layout with long straight-aways and flat turns requires a similar set-up for Indianapolis.
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 or follow on Twitter: MicahRoberts7.
|Mark Martin should do well Sunday, maybe even get his first win (Getty)|
You’re probably looking at the top-10 list and asking how in the world I could leave off Tony Stewart when he’s got the best average finish (8.1) that includes two wins. The Indiana native wants to win more at the Brickyard than he does the Daytona 500, but I just didn’t feel it.
When I watch practices, and then review the speeds and averages, there is always something that pops out on a handful of drivers that I feel make them contenders. In Stewart’s case, nothing popped out other than his great past and finishing third at Pocono in June.
Despite not being in my own personal final list of contenders, Stewart won’t be a driver I bet against in match-ups. I would expect Stewart to run well -- at least better than his 26th fastest happy hour lap -- and maybe even get close to a top-5, but winning is another story.
The drivers I had keyed on before Saturday’s practices was Mark Martin and Joey Logano due to their great Pocono runs and they did nothing to disappoint. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Logano and his crew kissing the Bricks and give Toyota their first win on the storied track.
Mark Martin winning would be a very emotional story. He is one of four drivers to have raced in all 18 Brickyard 400’s, but doesn't have a win. Like Logano, Martin was outstanding throughout testing and practices at Pocono and the information gained there translated well this week at Indy.
Jack Roush has never won at the Brickyard, but he’s got three drivers that look capable with Greg Biffle being the top choice. Carl Edwards had a great final practice, but it doesn’t seem logical that after not winning since Las Vegas last season that he and new crew chief Chad Norris would get a win in their first race.
Jimmie Johnson looks to have the total package this week with everything pointing in his direction, such as past Brickyard history, recent Pocono history and outstanding practices.
We were kind of in this situation two weeks ago with Kasey Kahne at New Hampshire where Kahne’s car looked the best, but Johnson got rated higher simply because of all of Johnson’s intangibles -- mainly consistency. Kahne was the top performing Chevy in both practices and might be in for another win this week.
If I had to pick one group of drivers to do well collectively, it would probably start with the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were very impressive in practice. Being greedy like I am, I will be rooting for my wager on Logano to come home first.
A driver that has flown under the radar in practices that should have a decent run is Kevin Harvick. Because he finished 20th during happy hour, he’s likely to be getting plus-money in a few match-ups.
I'm also optimistic that Sam Hornish will have a good race.
Brickyard 400 Starting Lineup