NASCAR at Watkins Glen analysis

Well firstly it’s good to be back, in some respects. After the motherboard of  my computer died, I was using a tablet to get by, and I’m now typing this from a notebook computer gifted by a family member. It’s missing the top of the D button, there is an issue with brightness, plus sometimes my typing will suddenly fly to the cursor and erase what I’ve done,  and I can’t do any podcasts without the right interface. But…’s definitely a blessing to have a notebook in the first place. 

Kinda sad that Tony Stewart is seemingly planning to drive today’s Cheez-It 355 At The Glen. And it does seem ‘business as usual’ that NASCAR will just sweep this death of Kevin Ward Jr.under the proverbial rug.  There have been many wrong things involving NASCAR, and this just continues the pattern.  
I’m here to give you stats on how current Sprint Cup drivers fare at Watkins Glen. I’m glad they continue to race on this testy road course. There should be more road courses in the mix. Maybe 1 or 2 more. 
Starts: Polesitter Jeff Gordon makes start #22 at The Glen, leading all active drivers.  Joe Nemechek starts 40th and makes start #19, 2nd most active. All others have no more than 15. 
Wins: Ironically it’s Tony Stewart who has mastered this track, with 5 wins in 14 starts. Gordon is 4-21, Marcos Ambrose 2-6 (!). Kyle Busch 2-9.  Nemechek is winless in 18, as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth, 0-14 here. 
Top 5: Stewart leads here too, 7-14.  Other top contenders: Ambrose is an amazing 5-6. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch are 4-9, Brad Keselowski 3-4, and Juan Pablo Montoya 3-9.  Kenseth and Nemechek are yet to reach the top 5 at The Glen.
Top 10: Stewart 10-14, Ambrose 5-6, Kyle Busch 8-9, Edwards 6-9, JPM 5-7, Ambrose 5-6.  Kasey Kahne, starting 30th, is 0-10, sharing that mark with Paul Menard, who has a better shot while starting 20th.
Laps turned without win: Nemecheck, 1440, followed by Kenseth (starting 8th) at 1263, Dale Jr at 1165, and Ryan Newman, starting 10th, with 1083
Laps led without win: Kurt Busch 62, Dale Jr 46, Keselowski 39.  Interestingly, Kevin Harvick scored his lone win while leading just 37 laps. 
Best improvement on start position at finish: Keselowski (7.5), Ambrose (4.4), Edwards (4.1), Martin Truex Jr. (4.4), Paul Menard (4.7), Reed Sorenson (5.3)
Running at finish: Best perfect scores: Stewart, Kenseth are 14-14, Harvick 13-13, Ryan Newman 12-12.
Lead lap finish: Stewart 14-14, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards 9-9. 

Here’s my top 5: 
1  Ambrose
2  Keselowski
3 AJ Allmendinger
4  Harvick
5 Kenseth 

2014 NASCAR Duck Commander 500 analysis

Fort Worth TX is the next stop for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, as drivers take on the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway. A fast 1.5 mile track is the best of all worlds to me. High banking, a tri-oval, not much room to breathe on the straightaway in back. Not as nerve-wrenching as Bristol, not quite the drama of the superspeedways like Talladega or Daytona, but a good combo of each type, in miniature. Here’s how the Sprint Cup drivers measure up:

Starts: Jeff Gordon makes his 27th start Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make their 24th.
Wins: Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have 3 wins here, Edwards 3-18. Winless: Kevin Harvick and Dave Blaney are 0-22. Jamie McMurray 0-20.

Top 5: Percentage-wise, the best here is Kenseth, 13-23, along with Jimmie, 10-21. Others: Greg Biffle 8-20, Kyle Busch 6-17. Carl Edwards 6-18, Denny Hamlin 5-16. Blaney is 0-22, David Gilliland and Brian Vickers 0-15.

Top 10: Kenseth again, 16-23 here, Jimmie 16-21. Others: Biffle 12-20, Hamlin and Clint Bowyer 9-16. Gilliland again outside the top 10 in all runs here, along with Travis Kvapil, who is 0-13.

Laps turned without win: Harvick 7345, McMurray 6466, Casey Mears 6296, Blaney 5916.

Laps led without victory: Martin Truex Jr. 231, Brad Keselowski 139, Bowyer 84, McMurray 70.

Best gains in starting position per race, 3 start minimum: Danica Patrick, generally running in the back of her 3 races, gains 9 positions. Kvapil 8.7, Kenseth 7.3, Harvick 8.8,
Running at finish: Harvick is perfect through 22 races here. Other perfectos: Mears through 19, Kyle Busch through 17, Denny Hamlin through 16.

Lead lap finishes: Kenseth 19-23, Jimmie 18-21. These two dominate percentagewise. Hamlin 12-16.
Top 10 prediction:
1 Harvick
2 Stewart
3 Keselowski
4 Hamlin
5 Larson
6 Biffle
7 Edwards
8 Bayne
9 Kurt Busch
10 Newman

IndyCar/NASCAR prediction for 3/30/14

IndyCar begins its season today in St. Petersburg FL, with the Firestone Grand Prix. Here I’ll examine how the active drivers for the race have done on this old street course in the past.
Starts/Wins: Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon have raced all 9 IndyCar events. Amazingly, neither have a victory, nor does Marco Andretti with 8. James Hinchcliffe managed a win in 2 starts, and Helio Castroneves 3 in 8 tries.

Top 5: Kanaan is 7-9m Helio 6-8, Hinchcliffe 2-2. Scott Dixon is 4-9.

Most laps without victory: Dixon 833, Kanaan 814, Marco 602. Fewest: Hinchcliffe, 210.

Most laps led without victory: Dixon 94, Justin Wilson 70. Everyone else has under 30.Notably, Graham Rahal led 19 laps total toward his lone victory here.

Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: Charlie Kimball averages 5.6.

Running at finish: Graham Rahal, Wilson and Dixon all are perfect through 6 races.
Lead lap finish: Justin Wilson is perfect through 6.

Predicting the top 5:
1 Kanaan
2 polesitter Takuma Sato
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay
4 Carlos Munoz
5 Will Power
Now to Martinsville for the NASCAR Sprint Cup:

Jeff Gordon, starting in row 3, leads active drivers with his 43rd start here today. Joe Nemech, starting last, makes start number 38. Nemechek is still waiting on win #1 here. Also: Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle are 0-22, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth 0-28, Kasey Kahne 0-20.
Gordon is 8-42 here, with Jimmie Johnson an impressive 8-24, and Denny Hamlin a more impressive 4-16, Tony Stewart is 3-29.
Top 5: These drivers score in this category over 50% of the time: Gordon 27-42, Jimmie 17-24, Hamlin 9-16. Nemechek is 0-37, Biffle 0-22, Casey Mears 0-21
Top 10: More over 50%: Gordon 34-42, Jimmie 21-24, Tony Stewart 15-29, Dale Jr 15-28, Hamlin 13-16, McMurray 12-22, Clint Bowyer 10-16, Kyle Busch 9-18, Brad Keselowski 5-8. David Gilliland 0-15; Travis Kvapil 0-16; David Reutimann 0-14, Reed Sorenson 0-12, Paul Menard 0-13.

Laps turned without victory: Nemechek 14224, followed by Kenseth 13901, Dale Jr 13877, Biffle 10804, McMurray 10378.

Most laps led without victory: Dale Jr, 868, Kyle Busch 465, Kenseth 371, Bowyer 307, McMurray 117, Nemechek 116.
Best average gain in position per race, 3 race minimum:
Keselowski leads here, with a 6.7 gain. Jimmie is 5.7 , Kenseth 5.3

Running at finish: Gordon is perfect through 42. Biffle is next with 22, Carl Edwards with 19.
Lead lap finishes: Jimmie is 23-24. Keselowski is 7-8. Hamlin and Bowyer 14-16,
Top 10 prediction:
1 Jimmie
2 Hamln
3 Kenseth
4 Kyle Busch
5 Gordon
6 Logano
7 Edwards
8 Keselowski
9 Stewart
10 Bowyer

NASCAR Auto 400 analysis

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series returns to California and the Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400. It’s the 5th race scheduled for 400 miles. Kyle Busch aims to get his 3rd victory at this track, and just the 2nd for Toyota. Kyle’s race last year saw just 17 lead changes, fewest of any competition here for a full race.

Starts: Jeff Gordon makes his 25th start, most among actives. Next up are Joe Nemechek in his 24th, Tony Stewart his 23rd.
Wins: All 10 active drivers with at least 1 win are in the field. Jimmie Johnson is 5-19, tremendous show of dominance at Fontanta. Also notable: Jeff Gordon 3-24, Matt Kenseth 3-21, Kyle Busch 2-16, Carl Edwards 1-16. Nemechek, starting 42nd, still looking for win #1. Also winless: Dale Earnhardt Jr 0-21, Ryan Newman 0-19.
Top 5: Jimmie is 12-19 here, very strong numbers. Also around 50%: Carl Edwards 8-16, Kyle 7-16. Casey Mears is 0-17 here, David Gilliland 0-12.

Top 10: JJ again, 14-19. Also over 50%: Kenseth 14-21 (pole), Carl Edwards 13-16, best % of the field; Tony Stewart 12-22, Kyle Busch 11-16, Kurt Busch 10-20, Kasey Kahne 10-17, Clint Bowyer 7-13. Among those still seeking a top-10 finish: Gilliland 0-12, Travis Kvapil 0-11.

Laps without win: Dale Jr has gone 4601 laps without victory. Also up on this list: Newman 4104, Jamie McMurray 4072, Nemechek 4053.
Laps led: JJ’s 851 laps led led this category. Kevin Harvick’s 61 laps is the smallest amount leading to a victory. Nemechek has 92 laps led without victory, Denny Hamlin 76, McMurray 57, Brian Vickers 45.
Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: Kenseth gains 9.5 spots per race, Edwards 10.4, David Ragan 6.3, Gilliland 5.1, Kvapil 6.1
Running at finish: Jeff Gordon 22-24. Perfect scores: Kenseth through 21, Kurt Busch through 20, Jimmie through 19, McMurray through 18.
Lead lap finish: Jimmie is perfect through 19, only driver with perfect record here. Kenseth is 19-21. No one else is truly consistent as these two.

Top 10 prediction:
1 Kenseth
2 Edwards
3 Jimmie
4 Harvick
5 Bowyer
6 Gordon
7 Keselowski
8 Stewart
9 Logano
10 Kyle Larson

2014 Food City 500 analysis

Nothing like racing in a bathtub..the .533 Bristol is like no other, with the high-banked pavement taking up much of the surface. There are neat storylines about, including the feud between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, along with the lead for first separated by one point between Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Brad Keselowski. Kurt Busch won the Nationwide event on Saturday. Can he pull a double? I’ll investigate these as we dig into the Bristol history for active drivers:
Jeff Gordon, starting 6th, makes his 43rd start at Bristol, 3rd among active drivers. Joe Nemecheck,starting 42nd, is in for start #36. Tony Stewart in 37th, makes his 30th start.
Wins: 11 active drivers in the field have won at Bristol. In terms of win percentage, Kyle Busch is 5-18 (.277). Brother Kurt is 5-26.Keselowski is 2-8. Nemecheck has yet to win in 35 starts. Ryan Newman is 0-24.
Top 5: Gordon is 16-42, 38% clip. Also high percentage here: Matt Kenseth 11-28 (.392), Kevin Harvick (.346), Kyle Busch 8-18 (.444), Keselowski 3-8 (.375). Nemecheck hasn’t found top 5 in 35 starts, nor Travis Kvapil or David Gilliland in 15 starts.
Top 10: Gordon again, 23-42 (.547). Also over 50%: Kenseth (18-28), Dale Jr. (14-28), Kurt Busch (14-26), Jimmie Johnson & Ryan Newman (13-24), Kyle Busch (12-18, a stellar .666), Greg Biffle (12-22), Clint Bowyer (
Laps turned without victory: Nemechek (suprise) with 11765. After this, we have Newman (11251), Biffle (10830), McMurray (10750), Casey Mears (9194)
Laps led without victory: Biffle 438, Logano 144, Bowyer 132, Brian Vickers 127. On the flip side, Kurt Busch’s 5 wins came from 895 laps, which itself is equivalent to 3.36 total races here.
Best gain in position relevant to starting position, 3 race minimum: Kyle Busch 9.7, Dale Jr. 10.1, Kvapil 7.5

Running at finish: Best perfect record belongs to McMurray, through 22 races. Also perfect: Kyle Busch (18), Paul Menard (13), AJ Allmendinger (11).

Lead lap finish: Dale Jr. is 23-28 (82%). Also notable: Kenseth (20-28), Harvick (18-26), Biffle (18-22), Kyle Busch (14-18). Clint Bowyer (11-16)
Here’s my Top 10:
1 Kyle Busch
2 Hamlin
3 Kenseth
4 Keselowski
5 Dale Jr.
6 Ambrose
7 Biffle
8 Kurt Busch
9 Carl Edwards
10 Jimmie


Last week’s top 10 finished this way, 16,6, 23, 15, 4,5,41,14,2,13. All 10 ran to the finish, with Harvick the only driver of my 10 not to go the full 267 laps. Of those 267, my top 10 led 153 of them.

At 3pm ET today, NASCAR features the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, your basic 1.5 mile track.

Jeff Gordon will make his 17th start here, most of any driver. Tony Stewart in his 16th.
Just 6 active drivers have won here. Jimmie Johnson is 4-12 (.333), Kenseth 3/14 (.214), Carl Edwards 2/9 (.222), Kyle Busch 1/10 (.1), Tony Stewart 1/15, Gordon 1/16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is winless in 14, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick are 0/13.
19 active drivers have a top-5 record here. Most impressive is Matt Kenseth, 6/14, and Jimmie, 5/12, along with Carl Edwards 4/9, Kyle Busch 4/10 Casey Mears has never reached the top 5 in 10 runs, nor has Martin Truex Jr in 8.
Top 10: Despite just one win, Tony Stewart has the best % for top 10 runs, going 9/15. Also at least 50% here: Dale Jr (7/14, Jimmie 7/12, Kenseth 7/14, Greg Biffle 6/10, Kasey Kahne 5/10, Carl Edwards 5/9, Kyle Busch 5/10, Denny Hamlin 4/8. David Gilliland has yet to find the top 10 in 7 starts.
Laps run: Harvick has turned 3487 laps without a victory, leading this field. Other ohfers: Kurt Busch 3364, Dale Jr 3312, Ryan Newman 3262, Jamie McMurray 2938, Kasey Kahne 2562.
Laps led without victory: Dale Jr leads this category, with 232, followed by Kahne at 172, Biffle at 115, Newman with 98. Kenseth’s 513 laps led out of 3360 run here lifetime, 15% is the best ratio of active drivers. Carl Edwards’ 2 wins have come while leading 160 laps.
Avg finish to start gain in position, 3 race minimum: Harvick gains 8.4 positions per race, sporting an average finish of 12.7. Among those gaining at least 5 spots: Kenseth 5.6, Hamlin 7.0, Dale Jr 5.5, Trevor Bayne 8.4 (averages a 17th place finish tho), Paul Menard 6.7. Casey Mears 5.7, Gilliland 5.3, David Ragan 7.0.

Running at finish: Harvick is perfect in 13, as is Jimmie in 12, McMurray in 11, Casey Mears in 10.
Lead lap finish: Carl Edwards has the only perfect record, always on the lead lap in 9 races. Those with one blemish include Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano.

Putting this together, and reading through the starting grid, here’s how I see the top 10:

1 Austin Dillon
2 Jimmie
3 Bowyer
4 McMurray
5 Logano
6 Edwards
7 Harvick
8 Truex
9 Dale Jr.
10 Vickers
Looking back to last week, here’s how my predicted top 10 ranked:6th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 17th, 10th, 1st, 9th, 20, 39th (engine). 9 of my top 10 finished running, and 9 finished on the lead lap, and lead 298 of the 312 laps.

NASCAR @ Watkins Glen analysis

How about this name for a race? The Cheez-It 355 At The Glen? Says it all, doesn’t it?

I dig road racing, as it resembles more of what international drivers race on, and there should be 2-4 more of these in the NASCAR/Nationwide circuits (heck, even the trucks!). As I’ve typed here before, give me a versatile driver who has competed and won on different surfaces, competitions and car classes.

Winningest active driver of this track, Tony Stewart, is out indefinitely after a second surgical operation, this following a sprint-car race on 8/5, and I suspect he’ll miss part of the Chase.
Here are the stats I’m working with:
Jeff Gordon has won 4 times here in 20 races, Mark Martin with 3 wins, and Marcos Ambrose 2 (in 5 races!). Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch have the other wins at this level. Among those driving who have a shot to get their first: Jeff Burton (0-19),Ron Fellows (0-14), Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr (both 0-13)

Top5: Jeff Gordon has 6 top-5s, best of the drivers in the field. Also notable: Ambrose (perfect in 5 races), Jimmie Johnson (4-11), and Carl Edwards & Kyle Busch (3-8), plus Ron Fellows (3-14). Yet to crack the top 5 at Watkins Glen: Kenseth (0-13), Dave Blaney (0-11), Paul Menard & Kasey Kahne (0-9).

Top 10: Gordon leads with 9 times in the top 10 out of 20 races. Kyle Busch is 7 of 8 in that category. After those two, Harvick is 6-12, Jimmie is 6-11, and of course there’s Ambrose who is 5-5, along with JPM 4-6. Blaney, Menard and Kahne are yet to crack the top 10.
Most laps turned without victory: Among those in the field, Jeff Burton has logged 1537 laps w/o checkered flag. After, there’s Kenseth (1173), Dale Jr. (1080), Ron Fellows (1014), Ryan Newman (993)

Most laps led without win at the Glen: Kurt Busch (62), Burton (54), Dale Jr. (46), Brad Keselowski (who starts #8 in the race, and actually won here on the Nationwide circuit yesteday, 39
Average finish position, 3-start minimum:
Ambrose (2), Keselowski (8), Kyle Busch (9), AJ Allmendinger (9), Edwards (9.4)

Running at finish: Gordon is 17 of 20. Kenseth is perfect in 13, Harvick likewise in 12.
Lead lap finishes: Gordon, again 17 of 20, Kenseth 12-13, Burton 12-19. Kahne is perfect in 9 races.

My predicted top 10:
1 Ambrose
2 AJ Allmendinger
3 Truex
4 Bowyer
5 Keselowski
6 Menard
7 Kenseth
8 Kyle Busch
9 Jamie MacMurray
10 Joey Logano