StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Charlotte

Chase Elliott may not have been complaining about the weather in victory lane last weekend, but the NASCAR Cup Series will hope for some clearer skies this Sunday as they tackle Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

 

Compared to last year’s field, we already have 3 new drivers locked into playoff spots this year (Larson, Bell, McDowell), and they may not be the only 3 to make it after missing the playoffs last year.  Chase Elliott’s win last weekend didn’t do much to upset the status quo, as he was expected to make the playoffs.  However, bubble drivers Matt DiBenedetto and Kurt Busch (both playoff drivers in 2020) are currently on the outside looking in.  The struggling Stewart-Haas drivers, Cole Custer and Aric Almirola, will likely need a win to get back in, as their point totals are nearing ‘too far’ territory. Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick both missed the playoffs last year, but are currently in on points.  Each of them will be trying to make the playoffs for the first time in their Cup Series careers. 

 

Buescher has 6 top 15s in his last 10 races, and has shown some real speed as of late.  Reddick has 6 top 10s in his last 8 races, and even won the pole at COTA.  There is still plenty of racing left before the playoff picture is solidified, but some of 2020’s playoff drivers are bound to walk away from this regular season disappointed.

 

Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the longest race of the year, the “Coca-Cola 600.” One of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel races, it is traditionally held on Memorial Day Weekend.  Charlotte is a 1.5 mile quad-oval that opened in 1960 and has been hosting NASCAR ever since.  This weekend’s race is unique in that it is the only race of the year that has 4 stages instead of the traditional 3. 

 

The Coca-Cola 600 will be 400 laps (for a total of 600 miles), with stage breaks occurring at 100 – 200 – 300 – 400.  The fuel window is approximately 58-62 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 4,957.85 miles so far this year.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Charlotte:

Tyler Reddick

11.00 over 2 races

Joey Logano

12.23 over 22 races

Denny Hamlin

12.48 over 29 races

Chase Elliott

13.00 over 9 races

Brad Keselowski

13.57 over 21 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Charlotte:

Quin Houff

31.67 over 3 races

Michael McDowell

30.71 over 21 races

Bubba Wallace

29.00 over 4 races

Matt DiBenedetto

28.80 over 10 races

Ross Chastain

27.00 over 3 races

 

Charlotte is an Intermediate Track.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Intermediate Tracks:

Kevin Harvick

11.69 over 364 races

Kyle Busch

12.64 over 295 races

Brad Keselowski

12.68 over 216 races

Denny Hamlin

13.16 over 279 races

Chase Elliott

13.22 over 100 races

 

Jimmie Johnson holds the record for most wins at Charlotte, with 8.  He’s followed by Darrel Waltrip and Bobby Allison who each have 6.  Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. each have 3 wins, the most out of any current drivers.

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Charlotte:

Denny Hamlin

(has won at 17 other tracks)

Ryan Newman

(has won at 12 other tracks)

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Dillon won his first Cup Series race at Charlotte, his 133rd start.

 

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

William Byron

+377 pts

Daniel Suarez

+286 pts

Michael McDowell

+253 pts

Denny Hamlin

+231 pts

Chris Buescher

+203 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-543 pts

Kevin Harvick

-312 pts

Erik Jones

-291 pts

Kurt Busch

-259 pts

Brad Keselowski

-154 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

7.71

William Byron

9.36

Chase Elliott

11.21

Kyle Larson

12.21

Ryan Blaney

13.36

Austin Dillon

13.50

Michael McDowell

15.64

Chris Buescher

15.71

 

 

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Aric Almirola

25.43

Erik Jones

21.43

 

 

 

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

187 pts

Kyle Larson

118 pts

Chase Elliott

107 pts

Ryan Blaney

102 pts

Martin Truex Jr.

92 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

507

Ford

494

Toyota

479

 

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

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

497

Joe Gibbs

479

Penske

465

Stewart-Haas

413

Richard Childress

366

Chip Ganassi

343

Roush Fenway

327

JTG-Daugherty

322

Front Row

309

Wood Brothers

271

Trackhouse

236

Richard Petty

221

23XI

211

Spire

182

Rick Ware

119

Live Fast

87

StarCom

72

 

 

 

The race begins Sunday, May 30th at 6:00 pm EST (3:00 pm PST) – Enjoy the race everyone!

 

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Or you can email directly: acarabine@racingrefresh.com

 

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