StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Pocono

After this weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono, we will only be 7 races away from the start of the playoffs.  3 of those will be road courses (Road America, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis), and none of the 7 tracks will return in the playoffs.  While it’s obvious that for those drivers who have yet to score a win this season, every race will be about securing that playoff spot.  But for the drivers who have already won, there may be a chance for us to see some slightly more unorthodox strategy calls.

 

Will those drivers compete extra hard for stage wins, wanting to pad their playoff points?  Will they take a chance on a slightly different setup, something that could give them an edge come playoff time – but the stakes aren’t as high if it fails miserably?  Kyle Larson seems content to just keep on winning, as there doesn’t seem to be much experimentation necessary for the 5 team.  However, what about a driver like Martin Truex Jr.? With 3 wins under his belt, he can coast comfortably for the rest of the regular season.  But with recent performances having fallen off a bit, what sort of experimentation can he and crew chief James Small do over these next races to find that competitive advantage?

 

This weekend will feature 2 Cup Series races, both at Pocono Raceway.  Pocono is a unique track on the NASCAR schedule in many ways.  It is a triangular-shaped speedway, with each of its three turns being completely different from each other.  The track is 2.5 miles long, and features a fairly low amount of banking in the corners. 

 

The races this weekend will be called the “Pocono Organics CBD 325” on Saturday, and the “Explore the Pocono Mountains 350” on Sunday.  Saturday’s race will be 130 laps (325 miles), with stage breaks occurring at 25 – 77 – 130, and a competition caution at lap 12.  Sunday’s race is ten laps longer (350 miles), with stage breaks at 30 – 85 – 140.  The fuel window is approximately 40-44 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 6,189.59 miles so far this year.  Austin Dillon has completed 99.89% of them, the most of any driver.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Pocono:

William Byron

9.67 over 6 races

Brad Keselowski

10.95 over 22 races

Denny Hamlin

11.27 over 30 races

Erik Jones

11.38 over 8 races

Kevin Harvick

12.05 over 40 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Pocono:

BJ McLeod

37.25 over 4 races

Josh Bilicki

33.67 over 3 races

Timmy Hill

33.43 over 7 races

Quin Houff

32.75 over 4 races

Tyler Reddick

32.50 over 2 races

 

While Pocono doesn’t quite match any other track, we have lumped it in with intermediate courses, as it doesn’t have the same style of drafting as a Super Speedway.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Intermediate Tracks:

Kevin Harvick

11.21 over 365 races

Kyle Larson

12.46 over 119 races

Kyle Busch

12.50 over 296 races

Joey Logano

13.27 over 226 races

Brad Keselowski

13.41 over 217 races

 

Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin are tied for winningest driver at Pocono, each with 6 wins.  Bill Elliott has 5 wins, then Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and Tim Richmond each have 4. 

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Pocono:

Chase Elliott

(has won at 10 other tracks)

Kyle Larson

(has won at 8 other tracks)

Alex Bowman

(has won at 4 other tracks)

 

 

 

 

 

Pocono seems to be the track where drivers score their first career Cup Series win.  Denny Hamlin did it in his 21st start, Chris Buescher in his 27th, and Ryan Blaney in his 68th.

 

No drivers list Pocono as their BEST track, however Tyler Reddick, Cody Ware and BJ McLeod list it as their WORST track.

 

Milestone Watch!

Alex Bowman

Currently has 49 Career Top 10s

Chris Buescher

Currently has 24 Career Top 10s

 

 

 

 

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

+375 pts

Daniel Suarez

+351 pts

Michael McDowell

+204 pts

Chris Buescher

+164 pts

Denny Hamlin

+149 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-491 pts

Kevin Harvick

-317 pts

Erik Jones

-253 pts

Kurt Busch

-214 pts

Brad Keselowski

-199 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

8.47

William Byron

10.18

Kyle Larson

10.24

Austin Dillon

12.94

Chris Buescher

16.47

Bubba Wallace

21.06

Ryan Preece

21.65

Corey LaJoie

25.53

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Aric Almirola

24.06

Erik Jones

20.35

 

 

 

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

201 pts

Kyle Larson

187 pts

Chase Elliott

148 pts

William Byron

128 pts

Kyle Busch

124 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

627

Ford

589

Toyota

577

 

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

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

617

Joe Gibbs

575

Penske

551

Stewart-Haas

493

Richard Childress

446

Chip Ganassi

410

Roush-Fenway

401

JTG-Daugherty

394

Front Row

356

Wood Brothers

318

Trackhouse

313

Richard Petty

286

23XI

274

Spire

241

Rick Ware

150

Live Fast

113

StarCom

79

 

 

 

The races are Saturday, June 26th at 3:00pm EST (12:00pm PST), and Sunday, June 27th, at 3:30pm EST (12:30pm PST)– Enjoy the races everyone!

 

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