Saturday, August 6, 2016

Final Watkins Glen Driver Ratings: 2016 Cheez-It 355

Carl Edwards won the Watkins Glen pole Saturday; he's 8/1 to win Sunday.
LAS VEGAS -- Carl Edwards won the pole Saturday at Watkins Glen International and past track history suggests he's a strong contender to win Sunday's Cheez-It 355, the second and final race on a road course of the season. Edwards also won the pole at Sonoma Raceway's road course in June before settling for a fourth-place finish.

Edwards, listed at 8-to-1 odds to win, was already a strong contender just based on his own past history on the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course where he's got an 8.4 average finish in 11 starts. His best finish was third-place in 2009, but his consistency has been incredible with eight top-10 finishes.

Track history shows that the pole winner has won nine times in 33 Sprint Cup races all-time, which comes out to 27.2 percent, the most proficient start position in the field. Las Vegan Kyle Busch was the last to do it in 2008.

Starting from the top-five has produced 21 of the 33 winners (63.6 percent), which makes those starting immediately behind Edwards worthy of a strong look at the bet window. Kyle Larson (30/1)starts second, Sonoma winner Tony Stewart (18/1) starts third, followed by Matt Kenseth (30/1) and race co-favorite Kyle Busch (6/1).

Among those, Busch is still the driver to beat and considered the favorite. He's a two-time winner at Watkins Glen with a 10.5 average finish and he practiced extremely well in both of Friday's 85-minute sessions with top-five speeds which included having the best 10-consecutive lap average.

Micah Roberts' Sprint Cup Driver Ratings
Cheez-It 355
Watkins Glen International
Sunday, August 7, 2016 - 10:50 am PT

RATING  DRIVER    ODDS            PRACTICE 1          PRACTICE 2          QUALIFIED          SONOMA* 
 1. Kyle Busch 6/1                   5th                   4th               5th              7th
Two-time winner (2008, 2013); runner-up last season. Best 10-consecutive lap average practice 2.
 2. Joey Logano 8/1                  6th                 14th               7th             3rd
2015 winner (also won Xfinity race); passed Harvick on last lap, his only lap led of race.
 3. Brad Keselowski 8/1            7th                  6th              12th            15th
Three-time runner-up (tied for track record). Best 10-consecutive lap average during practice 1.
 4. Carl Edwards 8/1                 4th                 10th               1st              4th
Eight top-10s in 11 starts, 8.4 average finish. Pole-sitter has won nine of 33 WGI races (27.2%).
 5. A.J. Allmendinger 8/1           8th                  1st                9th            14th 
2014 winner, the only win of Cup career. Needs win; it's his last legitimate chance to make Chase.
 6. Tony Stewart 18/1              11th                 15th               3rd              1st
Five-time winner (track record); looks like Smoke of old with 5.7 average in past four on schedule.
 7. Denny Hamlin 30/1              2nd                 16th               6th             2nd
2007 runner-up; carries momentum from runner-up at Sonoma where he led a race-high 33 laps.
 8. Kyle Larson 30/1                10th                 12th               2nd           12th 
Fourth as rookie in 2014; fighting for Chase, comes off two strong runs: fifth at Indy, sixth at Pocono
 9. Kevin Harvick 6/1                13th                 11th              15th             6th  
2006 winner; third last season - led race-high 29 laps, ran out fuel on last lap (using same chassis).
10. Martin Truex Jr. 12/1            1st                  2nd              14th             5th
Career-best third in 2013, 13.7 average finish in 10 starts. Very fast in both of Friday's practices.

* Results from the June 26, 2016 race at Sonoma Raceway. The two road courses are drastically different, but the driver skill set still required to do well applies the same.

Odds courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Micah Roberts, a former sports book director, has been been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1994. Follow on Twitter @MicahRoberts7

Watkins Glen Betting Notes

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