Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 10:16 a.m. (PDT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Practice 2 Qualified Kansas*
1. Denny Hamlin 8/1 5th 5th 8th 1st
Should be very good on long runs; finished third or better on past four 1.5-mile tracks.
2. Kyle Busch 10/1 28th 1st 21st 10th
2008 winner; set-up similar to Hamlin’s; had 2nd best 10-consecutive lap average in practice2.
3. Kasey Kahne 12/1 24th 6th 6th 8th
Best finish of third in 2008; using same car this week that won on fast 1.5-mile Charlotte track.
4. Martin Truex Jr. 20/1 1st 25th 18th 2nd
Has finished 12th or better on past five 1.5-mile tracks, including a dominating Kansas run.
5. Jeff Gordon 12/1 20th 10th 19th 21st
2006 winner with a 10th-place average in 11 starts; only Hamlin is hotter coming into Chase.
6. Jimmie Johnson 7/1 25th 7th 1st 3rd
One of five Cup tracks to never win at; using chassis that has never lost a race (2 starts).
7. Matt Kenseth 8/1 32nd 8th 3rd 4th
Two-time runner-up with 12.3 average; top-10 finishes on last five 1.5-mile tracks; using new car.
8. Tony Stewart 8/1 12th 14th 29th 13th
Three-time winner, including last season; has track best 8.7 average; using new chassis.
9. Brad Keselowski 12/1 3rd 16th 13th 11th
Career best fifth-place last season; finished fifth or better on past three 1.5-mile tracks.
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12/1 2nd 31st 4th 7th
2005 winner; only driver to finish in top-10 at all six 1.5-mile tracks in 2012; using Pocono car.
* Results from the April 22 race at Kansas Speedway, a 1.5-mile track with a layout and banking that is most similar to Chicagoland.
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 on the race, go to The Linemakers on SportingNews.com or follow on Twitter: MicahRoberts7.
It may sound like a broken record every week, but Denny Hamlin is the driver to beat. It’s not just because he’s won two of the past three races, I mean, it does have a little to do with it. No one is hotter than Hamlin coming into the Chase, but his top-5 practices in both sessions Friday elevate him to the top. Then we also have to consider that Hamlin has been dominant on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, in particular, finishing third or better in his past four starts on them. Oh yeah, he won two of them, including the track that is most similar to Chicago, Kansas.
|Jeff Gordon should continue his hot run this week at Chicago (Getty)|
And that brings us to probably the second best candidate. Kyle Busch is rated No. 2 only because of his practices, but Kahne could probably be rated higher than Busch. I could see Kahne being one of the surprises of the Chase just because he’s so good on 1.5-mile tracks. He’s got the horses under the hood, a great crew chief and I think he can smell the trophy. His fate will rest with the other five tracks.
Jeff Gordon wasn’t spectacular in practice, but I think the momentum coming into the Chase is key here. He should be considered in match-up plays against most of the top drivers, other than Kahne, Busch and Hamlin.
Just because the odds are so long and also because he’s so good on the 1.5-mile tracks, it might be beneficial to try a few bones on Martin Truex Jr. If Hamlin sounds like a broken record weekly, then Truex Jr. must be getting overly repetitive. But I wouldn’t suggest him if I didn’t think it was possible. He’ll be fast in this race and should be there near the end contending for the win.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. should also be considered for matchups due to his consistency. He's almost a guaranteed top-10 finisher for this race.