Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 10:16 am (PDT)
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Practice 2 Qualified Daytona*
1. Matt Kenseth 15/1 3rd 2nd 10th 1st
No top-5 finishes since 2006, but has the best of the Fords just as he did winning Daytona 500.
2. Kevin Harvick 8/1 5th DNP 20th 7th
2010 winner with three runner-up finishes; great plate racer who sees the air better than most.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 8/1 27th 22nd 18th 2nd
Five-time winner, the last coming in 2004; using the same runner-up chassis from Daytona 500.
4. Jeff Gordon 12/1 4th 11th 1st 40th
Six-time winner, the last coming in 2007; has most restrictor-plate race wins (12) in history.
5. Brad Keselowski 15/1 6th 20th 13th 32nd
2009 winner, his first ever win; finished fourth last fall. Both Penske cars should fare well.
6. Aric Almirola 100/1 1st 1st 4th 33rd
Best finish of 13th in 2008; outstanding practices running in packs showing Fords with the edge.
7. Greg Biffle 15/1 24th 3rd 6th 3rd
Only one top-5 finish in 18 starts, but has advantage with Fords; using third-place Daytona car.
8. Carl Edwards 12/1 15th 14th 7th 8th
No wins in 29 restrictor-plate races, but has been coming close last 3 years; using Daytona car.
9. Clint Bowyer 18/1 22nd 10th 24th 11th
Winner of 2010 and 2011 fall races, now with new team; using 10th-place Bud Shootout car.
10. Jeff Burton 20/1 9th DNP 29th 5th
Runner-up last fall, his best finish in 36 starts; using Harvick’s plate chassis from last season.
* Results from the Daytona 500 held February 27, 2012. Talladega and Daytona are the only two tracks that use a restrictor-plate package.
Note: With a smaller radiator used in plate races, several cars are likely to over-heat in the hot Alabama sun while running in packs with no clean air, which further adds to the race being a crap shoot.
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 VegasInsider.com, TheLinemakers.com or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.
Betting Notes: The Fords all look to have the best set-up at Talladega led by Aric Almirola and Matt Kenseth. But their teammates will also be fast and ready seize the moment if it should ever present itself. I was also impressed with both Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger in their Penske Dodges.
Now, after having said all that I’m going with Jeff Gordon in a Chevrolet for the win. Being on the pole doesn’t mean anything, but his experience in the draft does. Now that they are pack racing again, Gordon can regain some of that edge he has on the other drivers in plate races. On the same note, Dale Earnhardt Jr will benefit as well. Both should be up front in the final pack helping each other out.
You also have to take a poke with Almirola just because of the large odds. Another driver with high odds who is worth a shot is Jeff Burton, who might just find himself capturing his first Talladega win.
This is basically a race where you can’t count anyone out which makes there no argument against any driver. Ryan Newman has an equal chance with Jimmie Johnson, as does Marcos Ambrose with Clint Bowyer. Because it is so wide open, the best bet to make in match-ups is just find a few of the plus-money prices in driver matchups and play them which leads me to Jeff Gordon against several drivers.
Matchup of the Week: Jeff Gordon +110 vs. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson won this race last year, but has also finished 30th, 31st and 26th in three of his last six starts. Gordon hasn’t been much better, but the point is that here is a great driver with good equipment getting +110 for no good reason, so take it.
Aaron's 499 Starting Lineup