Saturday, June 16, 2012

Final 2012 Michigan Quicken Loan 400 Driver Ratings Following Practice

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Quicken Loans 400
Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, June 17, 2012 -  10:16 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds          Testing*      Practice 1    Practice 2     Qualified  
 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10/1         4th                2nd             25th            17th 
2008 winner, his last in 144 races; great test and practice, might have his best Hendrick car ever.
 2. Matt Kenseth 8/1                  14th               5th              10th             6th 
Two-time winner with 9.5 average finish; fast average speeds in final practice; using new chassis.
 3. Mark Martin 15/1                   1st                1st              24th            14th 
Five time winner, the last coming in ‘09. Found lots of speed on the new surfaces last two weeks.
 4. Tony Stewart 8/1                   1st                4th              27th             8th  
2000 winner, his lone track win in 26 starts; using winning Fontana chassis, a clone of Vegas car.
 5. Kasey Kahne 12/1                17th                8th             22nd             4th 
2006 winner; strong average speeds in final practice using his winning Coca-Cola 600 chassis.
 6. Jimmie Johnson 6/1             10th              31st              7th              10th  
No wins in 20 starts, finished runner-up last fall; using $1 million winning All-Star race chassis.
 7. Kevin Harvick 12/1                2nd               33rd             3rd              2nd 
2010 winner; strong showing during testing and practices; using runner-up Chicagoland car.
 8. Greg Biffle 7/1                       2nd               15th             1st               3rd
Two-time winner; practiced at track record 204 mph; using fourth-place Coca-Cola chassis.
 9. Denny Hamlin 8/1                 26th              24th            11th             11th 
Has won the past two spring races; Joe Gibbs engines have been impressive at new high speeds.
10. Jeff Gordon 12/1                 10th                7th              26th            28th 
Two-time winner in 36 starts, the last coming in 2001. Candidate because of Hendrick team notes.

* 43 drivers tested Michigan’s new pavement on Thursday prior to Friday’s practices. The rank listed is the best run a driver had in any one of the two sessions.

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 on Twitter: MicahRoberts7. 

Betting Notes:
Just like we saw last week on Pocono’s new surface last week, we can expect to see a long-shot contend for the win at Michigan on Sunday. Of course, the top teams aren’t going anywhere, but they are brought back into the pack of some lesser teams because of all the unknown variables.

Dale Earnhardt Jr could give lots of Dads a Happy Fathers Day (Getty)
Marcos Ambrose is worth taking a shot with at 100-to-1 odds. He wasn’t special when tinkering with race set-up during practice, but we do know they can find some speed and that’s what the name of the game will be Sunday. For the same reasons, a confident Joey Logano -- with a little zip in his stride after last weeks win -- could provide a back-to-back at 40-to-1 odds.

My Favorite still remains Dale Earnhardt Jr. It could be that I’m stuck in the moment of the 2001 Daytona Firecracker and could easily see another storybook ending with this time being Fathers Day. It’s pretty stupid to bet on something that has failed 144 straight times, the length its been since Earnhardt Jr’s last won.

But this time, there is truly evidence from Thursday’s testing and Friday’s practices to suggest Junior might have his best Hendrick car ever. His average speeds were outstanding and he’s the shining star of the week for Hendrick Motorsports which houses nine Sprint Cup Championship trophies.

The drivers Earnhardt Jr is probably going to have to take it from, or hold off, is Matt kenseth, Tony Stewart or Mark Martin.

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