StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Phoenix

We are four races into the season, and so far we have four different winners.  Will this be the race that crowns our first repeat winner of the season?  We may only be 1/9th of the way through the season, but there are some trends that are starting to form that may help paint a picture of how the rest of the season may go.  This weekend, the Cup Series makes a trip to Phoenix Raceway for the Instacart 500, and also perhaps for a sneak peek at who can bring the speed to this track and challenge for a championship at the end of the year.  Let’s get the StatChat started:

 

Phoenix Raceway, while also the site of the Championship Race in November, is the Cup Series’ first visit to a short track in 2021.  It is a 1.022-mile (though NASCAR scores it just as one mile) oval with a distinctive dogleg just past the start/finish line.  The NASCAR Cup Series has been racing at Phoenix since 1988, but has undergone a few reconfigurations in the time since.

 

The race will be 312 laps (for a total of 312 miles), with stage breaks occurring at 75 – 190 – 312, and a competition caution at lap 30.  The fuel window is approximately 90-95 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 1,553.70 miles so far this year, with only Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin having run all of them.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Phoenix:

Kevin Harvick

8.92 over 36 races

Kyle Busch

10.52 over 31 races

Denny Hamlin

11.03 over 31 races

Chase Elliott

11.80 over 10 races

Kyle Larson

12.00 over 13 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Phoenix:

Quin Houff

34.33 over 3 races

Corey LaJoie

33.14 over 7 races

Michael McDowell

31.75 over 20 races

Ryan Preece

29.80 over 5 races

Tyler Reddick

26.00 over 2 races

 

Phoenix is a Short Track

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Short Tracks:

Kyle Busch

11.61 over 152 races

Denny Hamlin

11.85 over 146 races

Brad Keselowski

12.56 over 109 races

Chase Elliott

12.96 over 48 races

Kevin Harvick

13.23 over 198 races

 

Kevin Harvick is by far the winningest driver at Phoenix, with 9 wins to his credit.  Jimmie Johnson is a distant second with 4 wins, with Dale Jr. and Kyle Busch each having 3. 

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Phoenix:

Brad Keselowski

(has won at 17 other tracks)

Martin Truex Jr.

(has won at 14 other tracks)

 

No current driver has Phoenix listed as their BEST track, and no current driver has it listed as their WORST track.

 

No drivers have ever scored their first Cup Series win at Phoenix – will that change this weekend?

 

Based on their point pace, let’s have a look at who’s having a better year than last year.

 

Drivers Faring Better than in 2020

Michael McDowell

+528 pts

Christopher Bell

+475 pts

Denny Hamlin

+379 pts

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+201 pts

William Byron

+138 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-701 pts

Matt DiBenedetto

-569 pts

Ryan Blaney

-417 pts

Erik Jones

-318 pts

Alex Bowman

-280 pts

 

While some drivers may be doing better this year than they did in 2020, how does this year stack up against their entire career?  This statistic does not include rookies, as this is their first full year in the Cup Series.

 

Drivers Having their BEST Career Year

Denny Hamlin

5.75

Michael McDowell

8.00

Brad Keselowski

9.00

Kyle Larson

11.25

Ryan Preece

12.75

Austin Dillon

15.25

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Quin Houff

34.25

Tyler Reddick

22.25

 

In 2017, NASCAR introduced the concept of Stage Racing, which pauses the race at certain intervals and awards bonus points for the top 10 at that moment.  Here are the Top-5 Stage Point earners so far this year:

 

Stage Point Leaders:

Denny Hamlin

62 pts

Brad Keselowski

37 pts

Chase Elliott

35 pts

Joey Logano

31 pts

Martin Truex Jr.

29 pts

 

For those that aren’t aware, the Manufacturer Standings are calculated by awarding points to the highest finisher for each manufacturer according to their finishing position.  (40 for 1st, 35 for 2nd, 34 for 3rd, etc.)  No stage points or playoff points count.

 

Manufacturer Standings

Chevrolet

148

Ford

142

Toyota

140

 

Here is the same formula, but used on a team-vs-team basis:

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

142

Joe Gibbs

140

Front Row

120

Penske

116

Stewart-Haas

113

Chip Ganassi

110

JTG-Daugherty

109

Richard Childress

97

Roush-Fenway

85

Richard Petty

61

Spire

61

23XI

55

Trackhouse

55

Rick Ware

43

Wood Brothers

35

Live Fast

33

StarCom

15

 

 

 

The race begins Sunday, March 14th at 3:30 pm EST (12:30 pm PST) – Enjoy the race everyone!

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @StatChat_RR

 

Is there an error? Is there a stat missing that you’d like to see? Let us know!