Friday, May 6, 2011

Final Darlington Driver Ratings Following Practice & Qualifying

Micah Roberts Top 10 Driver Ratings
Showtime Southern 500
Darlington Raceway
Saturday, May 7, 2011 - 4:46 pm (PDT)

Rating   Driver  Odds           Practice 1  Qualified   Bristol*   Texas*

1. Denny Hamlin 7/1             4th            3rd         33rd       15th
2010 winner, track best 6.6 average finish; momentum from runner-up finish last week.
2. Kyle Busch 6/1               17th           14th          1st        16th
2008 winner with 18.2 average finish in six starts; using winning chassis from Bristol.
3. Carl Edwards 8/1            2nd             4th          2nd        3rd
Runner-up in 2008 with 15.6 average finish in seven starts; using winning Las Vegas car.
4. Jeff Gordon 8/1              12th             5th         14th       23rd
Seven-time winner, the last in 2007; current streak of seven straight top-five finishes.
5. Matt Kenseth 20/1           7th            20th         4th        1st
Only one top-five finish, third in 2006, in 17 starts; using fourth-place Fontana chassis.
6. Jimmie Johnson 6/1        22nd           19th         3rd        8th
Two-time winner, swept 2004 season, average finish of 9.3; Using brand new car.
7. Greg Biffle 20/1              23rd           22nd         8th        4th
2005-06 winner with 14.8 average finish; using Vegas car that led 11 laps in February.
8. Kasey Kahne 30/1           5th             1st           9th        21st
Five straight finishes of 20th or worse; best 10 consecutive lap average times in limited practice.
9. Mark Martin 25/1         27th            28th         12th       36th
Two-time winner, the last in 2009 with 12.1 average finish; debuts new car this week.
10. Ryan Newman 30/1       1st            2nd          10th       14th
Six top-five finishes with 12.2 average finish in 12 starts; using 2010 ninth-place Darlington car.

Note: Rain washed away Friday’s final practice and most of the first session. Most of the top times in the lone practice session run were from drivers trying to get a good lap or two in qualifying trim before the rain came. The best 10 consecutive lap averages were from Kahne, Hamlin, Paul Menard and Martin. However, they also were the only four drivers who mattered that got that many laps around the track in a row before rain came.

* Results from the March 20, 2011 race at Bristol and April 9, 2011 race at Texas, two tracks that aren’t similar to Darlington but have shown correlations with set-ups and results in recent years.

Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former race and sports Director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights and post-practice analysis on the race, go to

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