Friday, May 11, 2012

Final 2012 Darlington Southern 500 Driver Ratings Following All Practices

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Bojangles Southern 500
Darlington Raceway
Saturday, May 12, 2012 -  4:16 pm (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds         Practice 1   Practice 2   Qualified    Darlington ‘11*

 1. Greg Biffle 8/1                       2nd              2nd            1st                 8th
Two-time winner with 14.2 average finish; strong average times in practice using Bristol car.
 2. Denny Hamlin 10/1              16th             13th            8th                 6th  
2010 winner with track best 6.5 average; best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice.
 3. Jimmie Johnson 6/1              7th               4th            2nd               15th
Two-time winner with 9.8 average finish; Using winning Kansas chassis from last season.
 4. Martin Truex Jr 25/1              6th             12th            6th                10th
His fast practices have translated well to race day all season; stellar average speeds in practice.
 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr 15/1         19th            18th           24th               14th
Going for career record seven straight top-10 finishes on season; using third-place Fontana car.
 6. Jeff Gordon 8/1                    13th             28th          12th               12th  
Seven-time winner, coming at all stages of career; 18 top-5 and 21 top-10 finishes in 29 starts.
 7. Carl Edwards 8/1                   4th              3rd             7th                 2nd
Two-time runner-up, including losing late battle to Regan Smith in 2011; using new chassis.
 8. Kyle Busch 8/1                     26th             15th            5th                11th
2008 winner, his only top-5 finish in seven starts; best 10 consecutive lap average in practice 1.
 9. Brad Keselowski 12/1          18th             11th           15th                3rd
7.3 average finish in three starts showing this is his kind of track; using fifth-place Phoenix car.
10. Kevin Harvick 10/1               1st              29th           23rd               17th
2003 Runner-up with an 18,9 average finish in 15 starts; using fourth-place Fontana chassis.

* Results from the March 7, 2011 Southern 500, the last race run on the track.

Note: Because Darlington’s 1.336-mile configuration is so unique, there isn’t a track to compare it too, but Las Vegas and Texas would be the closest to start with because of the banking.    

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 and post-practice analysis on the race, go to, or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.

Southern 500 Starting Lineup

Betting Notes
It appears very clear that Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin have the best cars for Saturday‘s Southern 500, but the best car doesn’t always win. I had come into the week with high regards for Jeff Gordon and when he didn’t practice particularly well, all I could think about was getting some high adjusted prices on him because of it. Gordon’s been a driver who has taken poor handling cars at Darlington into top five finishes and will likely do the same this week.

The driver that has captured most of my attention this week for a big payout is Martin Truex Jr who had great average speeds in practice which is essential part of the story on long runs at Darlington with the old or new surface.

I also have to take a stab at betting Dale Earnhardt Jr. It may seem like a bad idea since he’s never won at Darlington and he hasn’t won in ages -- what is it? 140 straight now? But his car has the look of one that will be competing late in the race because of average speeds, similar to Truex Jr.

Matchup of the Week: Martin Truex Jr -125 vs. Mark Martin: For somewhat of an equal price, this one looks to be very cheap with a driver that could win the race. Martin has tons of experience on the track, winning in 2009, but Truex Jr has held his own with lesser cars in the past obtaining a 12.3 average finish in six starts.

I would look to bet on Truex Jr against every driver other than Biffle or Hamlin. Because of Earnhardt Jr’s consistency run and a great practice, he should also be considered in several matchups if not going against the aforementioned that includes Truex Jr.    

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