Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Phoenix International Raceway
Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 12:16 p.m. (PDT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Qualified Practice 2 Practice 3
1. Kyle Busch 8/1 1st 1st 1st 1st
2005 winner; thoroughly dominated practices -- had best 10 consecutive lap averages.
2. Brad Keselowski 5/1 21st 14th 4th 9th
Career best finish of fifth-place in the spring; using brand new chassis this week.
3. Kasey Kahne 8/1 4th 4th 9th 2nd
2011 winner in first race under new configuration; outstanding practice using new car.
4. Denny Hamlin 6/1 2nd 3rd 2nd 8th
Won spring race in April, also won at similar track at New Hampshire; 10.9 average finish.
5. Clint Bowyer 12/1 3rd 16th 8th 7th
He’s becoming the King of the flat tracks; using car that won on similar track at Richmond.
6. Jeff Gordon 12/1 10th 11th 10th 5th
Two-time winner, the last in spring of 2011, with a 10.8 average finish in 27 career starts.
7. Jimmie Johnson 4/1 27th 24th 24th 11th
Four-time winner, including three times during Chase of Championship season; sluggish practice.
8. Joey Logano 50/1 7th 15th 5th 3rd
Best finish of third in 2010; strong practice using similar set-up as teammates Busch and Hamlin.
9. Martin Truex Jr. 20/1 5th 2nd 3rd 6th
Best finish of fifth in 2009 with career average of 15.2; looked good in average practice speeds.
10. Paul Menard 100/1 8th 7th 6th 19th
Only one top-10 finish over career (2011), but had the look of a contender in practice.
Note: This will be third race under the new configuration at Phoenix. Despite the changes, the track remains relatively flat and keeps recent results at New Hampshire and Richmond still relevant for set-up and handicapping purposes.
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.
Kyle Busch looks like he’s got the fastest car at Phoenix this weekend. He was fastest in all three practice sessions and starts from the pole. He did all the little things you like to see during practices like have a good overall average speed and run up with the leaders in 10-consecutive lap averages. In both of Saturday’s practice sessions, he had the top 10-consecutive lap averages.
As good as Busch looks, we know that the best car doesn’t always win, especially at Phoenix. In the March race we saw Kasey Kahne be almost as good as Busch was this weekend -- at least during happy hour, but it didn’t translate to a win. Kahne wrecked himself early in the race and wasn’t able to win two in a row under the new configuration.
If Busch can’t win the race, look for Kahne to come up with the win. Kahne was just a notch below Busch in all the practice categories we like and we know his car will be set-up perfectly for the race. Kahne just needs to watch out for that tricky wall that bit him in March.
Brad Keselowski was impressive in Saturday practices and looks to have a much better car than Jimmie Johnson. Johnson certainly has a better history at Phoenix, but not that much under the new reconfiguration. Keselowski was fifth in the spring and Johnson fourth, and when you add Johnson and his crew trying to find anything that works on a sluggish car, Keselowski looks to have the edge Sunday.
One of the great moments of the final practice sessions was when Keselowski was informed by his spotter that Johnson’s guy on the roof said Johnson wanted to run behind Keselowski because the No. 2 was running much faster. Johnson slowed, Keselowski passed and just as Johnson was about to and follow Keseloski’s successful line around the track, Keselowski pulled into the pits. He basically said without words, “I’m not helping you do nothing! You‘re struggling and I like it. Two races two go for the title and I need every edge I can get. Work it out yourself.”
Johnson eventually found a little more speed and finished 11th in the session after being 24th in the Saturday’s earlier practice.
Speed also found it’s way into Busch’s Joe Gibbs teammates’ cars of Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Logano offers perhaps the best value on the board at 50-to-1.
We also have to consider Clint Bowyer because he’s using the same car he won with at Richmond in September. Jeff Gordon looked good in practice as well and should have a strong showing due to finishing within the top-3 at both Richmond and New Hampshire in September.