StatChat: NASCAR Cup Series Championship @ Phoenix

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The NASCAR Cup Series makes its final stop of 2021, crowning a new champion at Phoenix Raceway this weekend.  Phoenix is a 1-mile tri-oval track with a distinctive dog-leg that sets it apart from other oval tracks. 

 

This weekend’s race is called the “Season Finale 500,” and is set to be 312 laps (312 miles).  Stage breaks will occur at 75 – 190 – 312.  The fuel window is approximately 90-95 laps.

 

NASCAR has run 12,284.11 miles so far this year.  Denny Hamlin has completed 99.92% of them, the most of any driver.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Phoenix:

Kevin Harvick

8.84 over 37 races

Denny Hamlin

10.78 over 32 races

Kyle Busch

10.97 over 32 races

Chase Elliott

11.18 over 11 races

Kyle Larson

11.64 over 14 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Phoenix:

Timmy Hill

35.78 over 9 races

Josh Bilicki

35.00 over 2 races

Quin Houff

33.75 over 4 races

Joey Gase

33.71 over 7 races

Corey LaJoie

32.38 over 8 races

 

 

For the purposes of this article, Phoenix is being considered a “Short Track” – in other words, tracks shorter than 1.5 miles.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Short Tracks:

Denny Hamlin

11.63 over 154 races

Kyle Busch

11.90 over 160 races

Brad Keselowski

12.47 over 117 races

Chase Elliott

12.67 over 56 races

Joey Logano

12.93 over 125 races

 

Kevin Harvick is the winningest driver at Phoenix, having scored 9 victories over his career.  Jimmie Johnson earned 4, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch each have 3.

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Phoenix:

Brad Keselowski

(has won at 17 other tracks)

Kyle Larson

(has won at 13 other tracks)

Ryan Blaney

(has won at 6 other tracks)

Alex Bowman

(has won at 6 other tracks)

 

 

 

No one has won their first Cup Series race at Phoenix.

 

Milestone Watch!

Brad Keselowski

This will be his 25th Career Start @ Phoenix

Cole Custer

This will be his 75th Career Cup Series Start

Alex Bowman

This will be his 225th Career Cup Series Start

Austin Dillon

This will be his 300th Career Cup Series Start

Ryan Newman

This will be his 725th Career Cup Series Start

Alex Bowman

Looking for his 25th Top-5 Finish

 

 

 

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

Daniel Suarez

+278 pts

William Byron

+234 pts

Tyler Reddick

+193 pts

Christopher Bell

+190 pts

Denny Hamlin

+122 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-334 pts

Kevin Harvick

-278 pts

Erik Jones

-223 pts

Brad Keselowski

-161 pts

Matt DiBenedetto

-141 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

8.60

Kyle Larson

9.31

Chase Elliott

11.54

Ryan Blaney

12.14

William Byron

13.54

Austin Dillon

14.43

Chris Buescher

17.09

Ross Chastain

18.74

Bubba Wallace

19.11

Michael McDowell

20.37

Ryan Preece

22.86

Corey LaJoie

24.69

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Ryan Newman

22.51

Erik Jones

19.60

 

 

 

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:

Kyle Larson

392 pts

Denny Hamlin

384 pts

Chase Elliott

294 pts

William Byron

265 pts

Kyle Busch

255 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

1,297

Toyota

1,206

Ford

1,204

 

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

 

Chartered Team Standings

Hendrick

1,250

Joe Gibbs

1,189

Penske

1,132

Stewart-Haas

1,022

Chip Ganassi

921

Richard Childress

916

Roush-Fenway

802

JTG-Daugherty

761

Wood Brothers

702

Front Row

634

23XI

633

Richard Petty

612

Trackhouse

595

Spire

507

Rick Ware

336

Live Fast

254

StarCom

175

 

 

 

The race is Sunday, November 7th at 3:00pm EST (12:00pm PST) – Enjoy the race everyone!

 

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