Saturday, June 9, 2012

Final 2012 Pocono 400 Driver Ratings Following All Test and Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Pocono 400
Pocono Raceway
Sunday, June 10, 2012 -  10:16 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds          Testing*     Practice 1   Practice 2   Qualified  
 1. Jimmie Johnson 4/1             3rd               4th               21st            24th    
Two-time winner; best 10-consecutive lap average in practice 2; using winning Darlington chassis.
 2. Mark Martin 40/1                  1st               1st               20th             6th 
Six-time runner-up with no wins in 50 starts; the most outstanding in test and practice sessions.
 3. Denny Hamlin 4/1                 5th               9th               18th             5th 
Four-time winner with 9.7 average finish; one of the fastest average speeds in final practice.
 4. Kasey Kahne 15/1                1st               7th                6th             10th   
2008 winner; top average speeds in final practice; using new chassis this week.
 5. Jeff Gordon  8/1                    4th              15th               3rd            12th 
Five time winner, the last coming in 2011; snake bit on season, but again has a great car.
 6. A.J. Allmendinger 50/1         1st               5th                9th             19th 
Best finish of 10th in 2010, but showed in testing he’s got a set-up that can capture first career win.
 7. Paul Menard 100/1               5th              11th               4th              3rd 
Outstanding test and practice sessions; candidate because of win on similar banking at Brickyard.
 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr 15/1        10th              3rd                23rd            8th 
Finished top-10 in both 2011 races; consistent Hendrick horsepower makes him a contender.
 9. Joey Logano 75/1                 7th              27th                1st             1st   
22 past race winners started on front row; start position even more key now with 100 miles less.
10. Kyle Busch 8/1                     6th              23rd               5th              4th 
One of only three tracks yet to win on in NASCAR’s top divisions; third and runner-up in 2011.

* 42 drivers tested Pocono’s new pavement on Wednesday and Thursday prior to Friday’s practice. The rank listed is the best run a driver had in any one of the three sessions.

Note: The new surface had drivers reaching high speeds never seen before in Pocono history. 36 drivers beat the old track record during Saturday’s qualifying.  

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
I really believe this race will play out kind of like a road race. Not only is the race a 100 miles shorter than we’ve been accustomed to, but we have also seen fewer cautions than ever this season, or so it seems. Should this race go with long green flag runs that include pit stops, it may be tough for a driver starting in the back half of the field to catch the leaders.

Pocono has traditionally been a track that was already hard to pass at. With 500 miles run in the past, 22 drivers starting on the front row have gone on to win at Pocono. Now with less laps, it makes starting position more important than ever. This is why most of the drivers starting in the top-10 should be considered candidates to win this week.

If you look at a few of the names in the top-10, you can see that there is a very strong chance at hitting some bombs in the odds department. I like Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin the most based on their average speeds in practice, but drivers like Mark Martin, Paul Menard, A.J. Allmendinger and Joey Logano all present great value and are worth a shot this week.

Johnson may have the best car and is currently on the best roll in NASCAR, but his start position of 24th is a major negative. Martin has fooled me a few times this season, but if I was taking one driver based on the testing and practices during the week, Martin would be my choice. It also helps entice me to believe this may be the week he gets a win because his odds were 40-to-1. Should Martin gets his first win after six runner-ups in 50 starts, it would be a pretty amazing scene, perhaps the best of the year.

Matchup of the Week: Kyle Busch -130 vs. Carl Edwards
Kyle has won this matchup in four of the past five Pocono races and is on the best run of his career at Pocono with finishes of third or better in three of his past four starts. Edwards car was only fast in qualifying trim and despite starting the race right next to Logano on the front row, Kyle should have a much better car in race conditions.

Of the favorites, if I had to pick one that might finish outside of the top-10 it would be Jeff Gordon. Gordon is favored in most of his matchups, but he’s been very reliable through 13 races this year when betting against. Based on his past, his odds are way too high this week against drivers in better form.

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