|Joey Logano has look of a winner this week and should be considered the favorite.|
Logano also doesn't have a driver in retaliation mode this time around like was the case last fall when Matt Kenseth launched lapped car into Logano's while leading with 47 laps to go. Another reason Logano has his best shot to win is that the elite Martinsville driver pool has shrunk by a third with Jeff Gordon retiring, which leaves only eight-time winner Jimmie Johnson and five-time winner Denny Hamlin as his main competition.
The elite drivers have dominated Martinsville in recent years, but a couple drivers made quite an impression in Saturday's final two practices.
Brian Vickers was 100-to-1 before practices, but that number will be chopped considerably after looking to have one of the best cars in the field. Driving Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, he looked better than teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in all three practices and qualifying. The No. 14 performance has been well below Harvick and Busch all season until now. Vickers had the fastest lap in Friday's practice then qualified third, and in Saturday's final practices he was was fourth and third respectively, including the best 10-consecutive lap average in the early session. His best career finish at Martinsville was sixth in 2010, but he has plenty of value this week at adjusted odds of 40-to-1 or higher and also should be a good play in driver vs. driver match-ups.
Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman also ran well enough in practices to trust them in match-up plays or throw-ins to any fantasy lineups.
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Micah Roberts' Top-10 Rated NASCAR Drivers
Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 10:16 am (PT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Qualified Practice 2 Practice 3
1. Joey Logano (6/1) 3rd 1st 11th 12th
2010 runner-up; fifth or better in three of past four starts. Pole sitter has won 21 times.
2. Denny Hamlin (6/1) 2nd 8th 9th 7th
Five-time winner with eighth-place average. Loves flat tracks, winning on home track.
3. Jimmie Johnson (9/2) 31st 24th 13th 6th
Eight-time winner, 7.4 average finish. Best 10-consecutive lap average during final practice.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1) 23rd 21st 6th 19th
2014 winner after going 29 races there with no wins; eighth or better in eight of past 11 races.
5. Brian Vickers (100/1) 1st 3rd 4th 3rd
Career-best sixth in 2010. Car real fast off hauler -- best 10-consecutive lap average practice 2.
6. Kevin Harvick (7/1) 17th 19th 16th 21st
2011 winner with 15.8 average in 29 starts; using eighth-place chassis from both 2015 races.
7. Ryan Newman (80/1) 4th 5th 2nd 4th
2012 winner with 15.1 average in 28 starts. Second best 10-consecutive lap average practice 2.
8. Kyle Busch (7/1) 11th 7th 14th 2nd
157 wins in NASCARs three major series, but none at Martinsville; 15.1 average in 21 starts.
9. Kasey Kahne (40/1) 6th 2nd 1st 9th
His most impressive practice of what's been tough season so far. 20.2 average in 24 starts.
10. Matt Kenseth (7/1) 8th 9th 8th 8th
Better with age after taking lumps early in career -- sixth or better in four of past five starts.
Note: 96 of the 134 (71.6%) Sprint Cup races at Martinsville have been won from a top-10 starting position.
Odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Micah Roberts, a former Las Vegas sports book director, has been setting NASCAR odds since 1994. Follow him on twitter @MicahRoberts7