Friday, May 17, 2013

2013 NASCAR All-Star Race Practice Notes and Final Driver Ratings

All-Star race should produce some fun racing Saturday night
There wasn’t anything that occurred during Friday’s lone All-Star race practice session or qualifying to deter or enhance any opinion we had coming into this race. Kyle Busch was fastest during practice, running 23 laps with a top-speed at 190.127 mph in preparation for Saturday’s All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Right behind him with the third fastest lap was teammate Matt Kenseth at 188.042 mph.

The qualifying session that put Carl Edwards on the pole was more about having speed in and out of the pits with a quick four-tire change under the fun All-Star qualifying format, than it was about a car actually being fast. However, starting up front at least gives the first few drivers an early edge in the first segment.

Busch and Kenseth were considered the two drivers to beat based on combining to win on all 1.5-mile tracks this season, along with the 2-mile tri-oval at Fontana and the difficult 1.336-mile layout at Darlington. The Joe Gibbs drivers are batting 1.000 on all the tracks that require the most horsepower and Charlotte’s 1.5-mile high banked layout doesn’t figure to be much different.

Plain and simply, the Joe Gibbs organization is the team that has the Gen-6 car figured out the most on these type of tracks, the type that are essentially a gateway to a season championship.

Busch starts fifth, while Kenseth begins 14th. It shouldn’t take more than 10 laps for Busch to find his way to the lead in the first segment.

The one difference that could be argued for the 20 other drivers competing is that $1 million is at stake. For that kind of cash, people -- even drivers -- can do some out of the ordinary things. No points are on the line for this race, which also allows the drivers to run full-throttle for the big prize with little regard for how they finish, or what type of shape their car returns to the garage in.

A driver we made made special considerations for -- based on practice -- that we didn't expect was 2010 All-Star race winner Kurt Busch, who ended up having the second fastest single lap during practice and had the best 10-consecutive laps average. Busch wasn’t great at Las Vegas or Texas, but did finish fifth at Fontana and was 15th at Kansas. With this race being all about short runs, it’s possible that Busch could average a good enough finish in the first four 20-lap segments to have a favorable start position in the final 10-lap sprint. And then anything is possible.

If a Joe Gibbs car, including Denny Hamlin, doesn’t win Saturday night, it would be a surprise.

While rooting your bet in Saturday night, it would also serve the bettor well to pay close attention to some details of what transpires during the race that will help get a jump start in next week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Seven drivers have swept the two races in the same year with three drivers doing it in the past 10 seasons, the last being Kurt Busch in 2010.

Micah Roberts‘ Top-10 Driver Ratings 
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Saturday, May 18, 2013 -  4:30 p.m. PT

Rating    Driver     Odds        Practice 1    Qualified     Las Vegas*   Texas*

 1. Kyle Busch 5/1                      1st                 5th             4th             1st 
Four DNF’s in seven career starts, with two top-5 finishes, but has one of the fastest cars of race.
 2. Matt Kenseth 6/1                   3rd               14th            1st             12th 
2004 winner with the best average finish (6.3) among active drivers over his 12 starts.
 3. Jimmie Johnson 5/1              6th               19th             6th              6th  
Three-time winner, including last season; second fastest 10-consecutive lap average in practice using third-place Kansas chassis.
 4. Kasey Kahne 8/1                  13th              10th             2nd             11th 
2008 winner with four other wins in Charlotte point races; using ninth-place Kansas chassis.
 5. Carl Edwards 12/1                 7th                 1st             5th              3rd 
2011 winner with an 11.3 average finish; using fourth-place Fontana chassis.
 6. Brad Keselowski 12/1            4th               13th              3rd             9th 
Just on notch below Busch and Kenseth on these type of tracks; using third-place Bristol chassis.
 7. Denny Hamlin 8/1                  9th               18th             15th            8th (Vickers)
Two top-5 finishes with 12.5 career average; should be almost as good as teammates Busch and Kenseth.
 8. Martin Truex Jr. 20/1              6th               N/A             8th              2nd  
Has to race his way in by finishing first or second in Sprint Showdown; eighth or better on all three 1.5-mile tracks in ’13.
 9. Clint Bowyer 20/1                   8th                7th              27th            15th 
No top-10 finishes in four career starts; using brand new chassis this week.
10. Kurt Busch 30/1                    2nd                3rd              20th            37th 
2010 winner with three other top-5 finishes; had fastest 10-consecutive laps average in practice.

Note: The All-Star race is a non-points race consisting of five segments totaling 90 laps. The first four segments are 20-lap dashes followed by a final 10-lap sprint for a $1 million prize.

* Results from the March 10 Las Vegas race and April 13 Texas race, the most recent races run on tracks that are most similar to Charlotte’s 1.5-mile high banked layout.

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 or follow on Twitter: MicahRoberts7. 

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