Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 STP 500: Final Martinsville Driver Ratings following all practices

Joey Logano has look of a winner this week and should be considered the favorite.
LAS VEGAS -- Following all the Martinsville practice and qualifying sessions, Joey Logano should be considered the favorite to win Sunday's STP 500 even though he's never won on the flat, half-mile layout. The main reason rests from starting on the pole -- his third straight race there on the pole. He can get out front and stay there most of the race. Last year he led the most lap between both Martinsville races.

Logano also doesn't have a driver in retaliation mode this time around like was the case last fall when Matt Kenseth launched lapped car into Logano's while leading with 47 laps to go. Another reason Logano has his best shot to win is that the elite Martinsville driver pool has shrunk by a third with Jeff Gordon retiring, which leaves only eight-time winner Jimmie Johnson and five-time winner Denny Hamlin as his main competition.

The elite drivers have dominated Martinsville in recent years, but a couple drivers made quite an impression in Saturday's final two practices.

Brian Vickers was 100-to-1 before practices, but that number will be chopped considerably after looking to have one of the best cars in the field. Driving Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, he looked better than teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in all three practices and qualifying. The No. 14 performance has been well below Harvick and Busch all season until now. Vickers had the fastest lap in Friday's practice then qualified third, and in Saturday's final practices he was was fourth and third respectively, including the best 10-consecutive lap average in the early session. His best career finish at Martinsville was sixth in 2010, but he has plenty of value this week at adjusted odds of 40-to-1 or higher and also should be a good play in driver vs. driver match-ups.

Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman also ran well enough in practices to trust them in match-up plays or throw-ins to any fantasy lineups.

Read More Here:

Micah Roberts' Top-10 Rated NASCAR Drivers
STP 500
Martinsville Speedway
Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 10:16 am (PT)  
Rating     Driver       Odds     Practice 1   Qualified  Practice 2   Practice 3
 1. Joey Logano (6/1)                    3rd                1st             11th             12th
2010 runner-up; fifth or better in three of past four starts. Pole sitter has won 21 times.
 2. Denny Hamlin (6/1)                2nd               8th              9th                7th 
Five-time winner with eighth-place average. Loves flat tracks, winning on home track.
 3. Jimmie Johnson (9/2)           31st             24th             13th               6th
Eight-time winner, 7.4 average finish. Best 10-consecutive lap average during final practice.
 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10/1)      23rd            21st               6th              19th 
2014 winner after going 29 races there with no wins; eighth or better in eight of past 11 races.
 5. Brian Vickers (100/1)               1st               3rd               4th                3rd
Career-best sixth in 2010. Car real fast off hauler -- best 10-consecutive lap average practice 2.
 6. Kevin Harvick (7/1)                 17th            19th            16th               21st
2011 winner with 15.8 average in 29 starts; using eighth-place chassis from both 2015 races.
 7. Ryan Newman (80/1)               4th              5th              2nd                 4th
2012 winner with 15.1 average in 28 starts. Second best 10-consecutive lap average practice 2.
 8. Kyle Busch (7/1)                       11th              7th            14th                 2nd  
157 wins in NASCARs three major series, but none at Martinsville; 15.1 average in 21 starts.
 9. Kasey Kahne (40/1)                   6th              2nd              1st                 9th
His most impressive practice of what's been tough season so far. 20.2 average in 24 starts.
10. Matt Kenseth (7/1)                   8th              9th               8th                8th 
Better with age after taking lumps early in career -- sixth or better in four of past five starts.

Note: 96 of the 134 (71.6%) Sprint Cup races at Martinsville have been won from a top-10 starting position.

Odds courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Micah Roberts, a former Las Vegas sports book director, has been setting NASCAR odds since 1994. Follow him on twitter @MicahRoberts7

No comments: