Tag Archives: race preview

Race Preview Update: Fontana II

Jamie McMurray nabbed the pole for Sunday's race. (Photo Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

As expected, the Fontana, Calif., area enjoyed excellent, consistent weather Friday and Saturday, so the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying. To handicap Sunday’s race, I crunched the numbers from those sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings).

Finally, I tweaked the results by considering starting positions, 10-lap averages and the opinions of another online expert. I came up with this top five:

  1. Greg Biffle
  2. Jamie McMurray
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Matt Kenseth

I liked Biffle in my mid-week preview (I rated him #4), but I didn’t imagine he could dislodge Johnson from the top spot in the prelims. Biffle looked very good on short and long runs in practice, however, and he’s got a decent starting position (he rolls off sixth). Add all that to his strong historical numbers, and the Bif is my pick to win.

McMurray vaulted way up my rankings thanks to lightning fast one-lap numbers in all four sessions, excellent 10-lap averages on Saturday, and his most-excellent starting position (yes, he’s on the pole). Continue reading

Race Preview: Fontana II

Jimmie Johnson gets his car serviced during his winning run at Fontana in February. (Photo Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This week the series heads back to Fontana, Calif., for a run on Auto Club Speedway. Auto Club Speedway is a 2-mile, D-shaped track with only 14 degrees of banking in the turns. These specs place it near those of the tracks at Michigan, Kansas and Chicagoland. The series has already run at the aforementioned tracks this season (including twice at Michigan), so we have substantial historical data (i.e., practice, qualifying and race data) at our disposal this week, and that alone improves this race’s predictability quite a bit. In addition, Weather.com says the speedway area should receive clear, warm, consistent weather all race weekend, further bolstering predictability.

However, like Michigan and Pocono, Fontana is a big, big track, and that increases that chances fuel mileage and the accompanying pit-road tactics will come into play during the race. That decreases predictability because pit-road/fuel-mileage tactics can really shake up the finishing order if they come into play. Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Kansas

Jeff Gordon was fast Friday and Saturday in the prelims and is the favorite for today's race. (Photo Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

As expected, the Kansas City area enjoyed excellent, consistent weather Friday and Saturday, so the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying. To handicap today’s race, I crunched the numbers from those sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings).

Finally, I tweaked the results by considering starting positions, 10-lap averages and the opinions of another online expert. I came up with this top five:

  1. Jeff Gordon
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Greg Biffle
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Kevin Harvick

In my opinion, Gordon is the clear favorite to win. He was fast in qualifying trim Friday, and fast on both short and long runs in race trim Saturday. Plus, he has an excellent starting position (3rd), and he looks great in the historical data. My money says Gordon wins today and adds some excitement to the Chase. Continue reading

Race Preview: Kansas

This week the series heads to Kansas City, Kan., for a run on Kansas Speedway. Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile, D-shaped track with only 15 degrees of banking in the turns, making it the shallowest of the cookie cutter tracks. These stats place it near the specs of Michigan, Fontana and Chicagoland. The series has already run at the aforementioned tracks this season (including twice at Michigan), so we have substantial historical data (i.e., practice, qualifying and race data) at our disposal this week, and that alone improves this race’s predictability quite a bit. Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Dover II

Kenseth and Bowyer talk during practice Friday. Both should run up front today in the race. (Photo Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Sprint Cup teams got in all three practices and qualifying at Dover under warm, sunny skies, and that’s good for predictability because it gives us lots of data to review. Today’s forecast on Weather.com calls for cooler weather during the race today, however, and that reduces the value of all that warm-weather data somewhat because the cars will behave a little differently on a cool track than a warm track.

Two more factors boost predictability. First, according to the Goodyear tire notes on Jayski.com, the teams are running the same tires they did in the May race, and that helps because it allows the teams to lean heavily on their notes from the May race. Finally, we already had solid historical data to review prior to yesterday’s preliminaries, which I discussed in my mid-week preview.

Overall, I rate predictability a little above average today. Fantasy players can therefore be a bit aggressive with start saving (though it’s questionable if you should still be saving starts this late in the season), and bettors can consider taking slightly tighter lines than normal. Continue reading

Race Preview: Dover II

Kyle Busch led six times at Dover this spring, and Jimmie Johnson led eight. (Photo Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

The Sprint Cup series returns to Dover, Del., this week for a run on Dover International Speedway, a 1 mile, steep-banked, concrete track known as The Monster Mile. We should enjoy decent predictability this weekend because 1) we have solid 2010 practice, qualifying and race data to review from Dover and two other shortish-banked tracks, Bristol and Darlington, and 2) Weather.com Dover will receive dry, warm weather on Friday and Saturday, with a chance of showers on Sunday.

Handicapping Dover
I examined the practice, qualifying and race data from all the 2010 races at Dover, Bristol and Darlington to produce historical rankings. Then I looked at the same data for just the Dover race in May, and I merged those results with the historical rankings, thereby making the rankings much more Dover-specific.

I tweaked those initial rankings with the opinions of other online NASCAR handicappers and my own race-recap notes from the May Dover race to come up with this top 13: Continue reading

Race Preview Update: New Hampshire II

Clint Bowyer had plenty of reason to smile during practice: The 33 looked like greased lightning. (Photo Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Sprint Cup teams got in all three practices and qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday, providing handicappers a plentiful amount of prelim data to review. Add that data to the solid historical data from the earlier races at New Hampshire and other short-flat tracks this year, plus the warm-dry weather prediction for today at Weather.com, and I think all signs point to above-average predictability for today’s race.

Fantasy players should therefore generally abstain from saving starts today, and bettors can consider taking slightly tighter lines than normal.

Handicapping Richmond II
I ran the numbers from the three practices and qualifying to produce new rankings, and then I merged those rankings with my mid-week rankings (heavily weighting the results toward the new rankings). I tweaked those results per the 10-lap averages from both practices, and then I did one final fine-tuning after reading the opinions of other online experts and considering starting positions.

I came up with this top seven: Continue reading

Race Preview: New Hampshire II

The 48 and 2 dueled late in New Hampshire's June race, but ultimately Johnson tossed the Miller Lite car aside like an empty beer can. (Photo Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series kicks off the Chase with a return to Loudon, N.H., this week for a run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). NHMS is an oval measuring roughly 1 mile in length with little banking in the turns. These specs place NHMS squarely in the short-flat track category, which includes Martinsville, Phoenix and Richmond. Fantasy NASCAR players and those handicapping NASCAR therefore have a healthy amount of historical data to review this week, and lots of data generally improves race predictability.

In addition, NHMS is bigger than the congested, bumper-car tracks at Martinsville and Bristol, and smaller than the massive flat tracks (e.g., Michigan, Pocono, etc.) that tend to promote fuel-mileage tactics. Weather.com calls for morning showers on Friday, but consistent, warm, dry weather for the rest of the race weekend. And Jayski’s Goodyear Tire Notes indicate the Sprint Cup cars will run the same tires this weekend as they did in New Hampshire earlier this season and both races last season, giving a final boost to predictability. Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Richmond II

Carl Edwards will start on the pole tonight. (Photo Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Sprint Cup teams got in both practices and qualifying at Richmond yesterday under warm, sunny skies. Today’s forecast on Weather.com calls for more rain-free weather today and tonight, and that boosts predictability.

In addition, according to the Goodyear tire notes on Jayski.com, the teams are running the same tires they did in the May race, and that boosts predictability as well because it allows the teams to lean heavily on their notes from the May race. Finally, we already had solid historical data to review prior to yesterday’s preliminaries, which I discussed in my mid-week preview.

In that preview, I rated this race’s predictability above average, and I don’t see anything to alter that view. (In fact, I would rate predicability even higher if practice and qualifying hadn’t shaken up my rankings so much—see below.)Fantasy players can therefore be a bit aggressive with start saving, and bettors can consider taking slightly tighter lines than normal.

Handicapping Richmond II
I ran the numbers from the two practices and qualifying to produce new rankings, and then I merged those rankings with my mid-week rankings (heavily weighting the results toward the new rankings). I tweaked those results per the 10-lap averages from both practices, and then I did one last fine-tuning after reading the opinions of other online experts and considering starting positions.

I came up with this top five: Continue reading

Race Preview: Richmond II

Kyle Busch got past Jeff Gordon on the final restart to win at Richmond in May. (Photo Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Sprint Cup circuit heads back to Richmond, Va., for another Saturday night race. Richmond International Raceway (RIR) is a .75-mile track with 14 degrees of banking in the turns, and that lumps it into the short-flat track category (Phoenix measures 1 mile long with 11 and 9 degrees of banking, for example). It typically produces good racing, and from a fantasy or handicapping perspective, it offers decent predictability, too.

We have a decent amount of historical data from the May race at RIR, although the Saturday night schedule squeezed practice and qualifying into Friday, cutting one practice session from a typical weekend (from three down to two). We also have solid data from the other 2010 short-flat races run so far this year at New Hampshire, Martinsville and Phoenix. Continue reading