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NASCAR Betting Picks: Kobalt Tools 500 – SportsUntapped.com
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Added March 6th, 2010 by David Glisan

NASCAR Betting Picks:  Kobalt Tools 500
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Big day of NASCAR betting as stock car racing’s traveling road show heads south to Atlanta for the Kobalt Tools 500.  Atlanta is considered one of the fastest ‘non restrictor plate’ tracks on the circuit and we’ll try to get a position on the guy who ends up taking the checkered flag.  In three races we’ve had one winner and a good shot at victory late in both of the other two.  Last week Jeff Gordon was running up front all day but got passed late by Jimmie Johnson who won for the 2nd straight week.


What we try to do to formulate our NASCAR betting positions is to come up with a ‘profile’ of what has won the race in the past, identify drivers in today’s field that match these characteristics and bet accordingly.  This is a strategy I adapted from an associate of mine who has an amazing record in handicapping major stakes horse races like the Kentucky Derby and it’s yielded decent results.  It’s not a perfect fit–obviously with 43 cars on the track running 500 miles at nearly 200 MPH there’s always the potential for variables and unexpected events that you don’t get in 1 1/4 mile horse race.  Still, more often than not we’ve got a car or two in the mix late and that’s really the best you can hope for handicapping NASCAR.

A good place to start the ‘profiling’ is on the starting grid.  There have been 101 Sprint Cup races run at Atlanta and there are some very strong correlations between starting position and the eventual race winner.  Since the legendary Fireball Roberts won the first NASCAR race on this track from the pole in 1960 its become apparent that starting up front is crucial for success here.  58 winners have started from the top 5 and 80 of the 101 winners have started in the top ten.  In other words, 57% of the winners here had top 5 starting positions and 79% have started in the top ten.  Only 13 winners have started from further back than 15th.  Sometimes tendencies like this become less significant over time.  You’ll see tracks where back in the Darrell Waltrip/Bobby Allison/Richard Petty era the winners always came from the front of the field but that have become more egalitarian in recent years.  Since only 3 of the last 20 winners at Atlanta have started out of the top ten I’m of the opinion that this is one track where the historical starting position bias still matters.

In this case, that narrows down the field significantly and we can start to apply other metrics to the 10 ‘finalists’ including practice times, average finish on the track and driver ratings on the track. It also doesn’t hurt to have won at Atlanta previously.  This produces the following drivers:

Jeff Gordon–Gordon was one of our choices last week and ended up finishing third after racing strong all day.  Gordon starts 5th at Atlanta, has won here before , has the third highest driver rating on the track, and has the best average finish in the past eight races at 6.6.  He’s finished in the top 10 in 8 of his last 10 races here.

Kyle Busch–The younger Busch brother will start 2nd, has won here before and has the 10th highest driver rating at the track.  He ran well in practice and since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing has a win and an average finish of 9.2 in four races.

Carl Edwards–Edwards will start 10th and has won three times here.  He’s got the second overall driver rating on this track.

Kasey Kahne–Defending race winner, has won twice at this track.  5 top 5’s and 7 top 10’s in 12 starts here.  Making his first start in a Ford at the track.

So those are the drivers in the top 10 that fit our ‘profile’.  If you do some shopping around you could take a position on all four, but we’ll go with just three.  We’re omitting Jimmie Johnson, who won the last two races but he’s starting 16th and only 12% of winners in Atlanta have won from further back than 15th.  Since you can’t find a good value price on him anywhere, he’s just not worth the investment here.


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