StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Kansas

Last week we highlighted that Denny Hamlin was having a great season despite not having yet won a race.  He went on to score his worst performance of the season so far, crossing the finish line at Talladega 3 laps down in 32nd.  Sorry Denny – we’ll keep out of it next time.

 

Instead of singling out a driver this week, let’s examine the track itself.  This weekend, the Cup Series makes its way to Kansas Speedway for the Buschy McBusch Race 400.  Kansas Speedway is a 1.5 mile tri-oval track that was built in 2001.  The inaugural race was won by Jeff Gordon that same year.

 

In order to find a comparable track this season, one has to look back 7 races.  Talladega was a Super Speedway, Richmond, Martinsville and Bristol were Short Tracks before that, though Dirty Bristol was its own different beast.  Atlanta before that was of a similar length to Kansas, but the worn track surface there turns the race into a tire war more than anything.  Before that was the shorter and unique layout of Phoenix.  Finally, 7 races ago, the Cup Series ran a comparable track in Las Vegas.  Kyle Larson led a dominant 103 laps on his way to victory lane.  Can he recapture that success on Sunday?

 

This weekend’s race will be 267 laps (for a total of 400.5 miles), with stage breaks occurring at 80 – 160 – 267, and a competition caution at lap 25.  The fuel window is approximately 57-60 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 3,572.11 miles so far this year, and with Denny Hamlin finishing last week off of the lead lap, no driver has raced all of them!

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Kansas:

Kevin Harvick

9.33 over 30 races

Cole Custer

10.50 over 2 races

Chase Elliott

11.00 over 10 races

Brad Keselowski

11.64 over 22 races

Martin Truex Jr.

13.24 over 25 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Kansas:

Ross Chastain

30.75 over 4 races

Quin Houff

30.33 over 3 races

Michael McDowell

29.84 over 19 races

Bubba Wallace

28.00 over 6 races

Corey LaJoie

25.75 over 8 races

 

Kansas is an intermediate track.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Intermediate Tracks:

Kevin Harvick

11.73 over 362 races

Brad Keselowski

12.64 over 214 races

Kyle Busch

12.71 over 293 races

Denny Hamlin

13.17 over 277 races

Chase Elliott

13.36 over 98 races

 

The winningest drivers at Kansas are all fairly evenly spread out.  Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick each only have 3 wins, with other current drivers Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano each having 2.

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Kansas:

Kurt Busch

(has won at 17 other tracks)

Kyle Larson

(has won at 5 other tracks)

 

 

 

No current drivers list Kansas as their best track.  Cody Ware is the only driver to list it as his worst, though that is only based on a single race where he finished 40th.

 

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

Denny Hamlin

+302 pts

Christopher Bell

+290 pts

Daniel Suarez

+287 pts

Michael McDowell

+283 pts

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+233 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-444 pts

Kevin Harvick

-315 pts

Erik Jones

-302 pts

Kurt Busch

-219 pts

Alex Bowman

-169 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

7.00

William Byron

10.30

Ryan Blaney

12.90

Austin Dillon

13.70

Michael McDowell

14.70

Chris Buescher

17.30

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Tyler Reddick

18.60

 

 

 

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

146 pts

Ryan Blaney

80 pts

Brad Keselowski

71 pts

Chase Elliott

69 pts

Martin Truex Jr.

68 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

Ford

362

Chevrolet

360

Toyota

342

 

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

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

350

Joe Gibbs

341

Penske

336

Stewart-Haas

285

JTG-Daugherty

259

Richard Childress

254

Chip Ganassi

241

Front Row

232

Roush Fenway

226

Wood Brothers

193

Trackhouse

164

23XI

157

Richard Petty

154

Spire

129

Rick Ware

92

Live Fast

69

StarCom

53

 

 

 

The race begins Sunday, May 2nd at 3:00 pm EST (12:00 pm PST) – Enjoy the race everyone!

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @StatChat_RR

Or you can email directly: acarabine@racingrefresh.com

 

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