Saturday, February 20, 2016

Final 2016 Daytona 500 Driver Ratings

How to stop Dale Jr. edge on Sunday is just to stay in front of him.
LAS VEGAS -- Between eight Daytona 500 practices, the Sprint Unlimited and two Can-Am 150 Duels, we’ve got plenty of data to come up with a solid rating final driver rating for Sunday’s 58th running of the Daytona 500.

The variables that stand out most for each driver is the last two years of plate racing, because not much has changed for 2016, and then how they fared in the two competition races Saturday and Thursday. The practices are relevant, but certainly not as telling as they are for tracks at Phoenix or Las Vegas. Because most teams take several of the sessions off just to avoid risk, the practices don’t give much indication of who is truly fast in the draft because they’re not in racing situations like we’ll see Sunday.

However, it was still hard not to be impressed with what Joe Gibbs Racing did in Friday’s afternoon practice session when they had all five of its cars -- including Martin Truex Jr. affiliation -- timing in with the first five fastest laps. Team Penske with Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and affiliation with Ryan Blaney -- also looked good as a team throughout the past week in practice.

It’s in that team concept that Denny Hamlin got the top rating. Having four other solid drafting teammates to push him wherever he’s on the track gives Hamlin the slight edge over the favored Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin has lots of recent plate racing success and he also appears to have one of the best cars as well.

Because this is such a volatile race and the driver ratings don’t hold as much value as a Phoenix or Las Vegas, you probably should be betting only half your regular weekly NASCAR bankroll. The match-ups and props are tougher than anywhere because of the randomness of a top driver getting into trouble. One wreck can take out over a dozen unsuspecting drivers, and it happens a couple times a race.

However, this is the Daytona 500 and its hard not to be excited with the wagering and so many options available. Good luck and enjoy the race.

Read More

Micah Roberts’ Top-10 Driver Ratings
58th Daytona 500
Daytona International Speedway
Sunday, February 21, 2016 -  10:31 am (PT)

RATING    DRIVER   ODDS           2015 500*  UNLIMITED**  150’S**     PRAC 7 
 1. Denny Hamlin 10/1              4th            1st            5th            1st 
Three top-fives in past four Daytona starts (3.75 avg.); 2014 500 runner-up. He’s real fast this week, really fast!
 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4/1         2nd          15th           1st           11th  
Four-time winner (500s: 2004, 2014); has won three of the past eight restrictor-plate races (led 367 laps) -- using same car.
 3. Joey Logano 8/1                  1st            2nd           2nd           7th 
2015 500 winner -- won two of the four plate races last season. Sterling Marlin last to go back-to-back (1995).
 4. Matt Kenseth 10/1              35th          12th         16th            5th 
2009, 2012 500 winner. His car is almost as good as Hamlin’s and will be very strong in draft.
 5. Brad Keselowski 12/1        41st            9th          13th          15th 
Three wins at Talladega, but none at Daytona -- third in 2014 500. Penske very good in draft.
 6. Jimmie Johnson 10/1          5th           22nd         13th          12th  
Three-time winner including 2013 season sweep; tandem with teammate Earnhardt Jr. makes him good candidate to be up front.
 7. Kevin Harvick 12/1             2nd           25th           4th          DNP
Two-time winner, including 2007 500. Second and fourth in 2015 Daytona races; smart and has plenty of friends who trust him.
 8. Kyle Busch 12/1                DNP         17th           1st            2nd  
2008 summer winner. Only five reigning Cup champs have won the 500 in next season -- Dale Jarrett the last in 2000.
 9. Kurt Busch 15/1                 DNP           7th           3rd          DNP
Impressive 18 top-five finishes in 59 career plates races, but never a win. Last three Daytona starts: 9.67 avg. finish.
10. Carl Edwards 15/1            23rd          16th           4th           19th 
No plate wins in 45 starts, but his Joe Gibbs’ Toyota will give him best opportunity for first win on Sunday.

* Results from 2015 Daytona 500 which featured 27 lead changes among 12 drivers and seven cautions for 26 laps. The results are relevant to 2016 because the cars are almost the same.

** Results from Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited (79 laps) and Thursday’s two Cam-Am Duel 150 qualifying races -- both are great indicator to how Sunday‘s race will be run.

Odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Super Book

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