Crunching The Numbers: Texas Two Steppin’

Challenger Round check mark
Contender Round check mark
Eliminator Round 1/3 check mark
And if you are Jeff Gordon check mark

Points

The Final 4 is under way to being formed. Jeff Gordon, with his last ever first season win, secured his spot in Homestead with the emotional 93rd career win at Martinsville. Even though he did have a little help from Matt Kenseth, that does not matter; Jeff Gordon will have a 25% chance at leaving his NASCAR career behind on the highest note possible.

With 1/3 of the Eliminator Round complete, everyone is looking forward to Texas; everyone that is except Matt Kenseth, who, if you have been living under a rock, has been suspended for 2 races due to his actions against Joey Logano at Martinsville. The team appealed the penalty, but it was upheld. We will be without the quietly, sarcastic Kenseth for Texas and Phoenix. But we will continue to look forward to Texas, where everything is bigger (so Texans claim). Before we jump into what we can look forward to at Texas, let’s take a look at how the Chasers have done in the Chase thus far and how they have gotten to where they are.

Chaser Averages   Chaser Averages Table

Firstly, we have our Challenger Round eliminated drivers of McMurray, Menard, Johnson, and Bowyer. Since their elimination, their stats in the Chase have remained flat. The drivers of Newman, Hamlin, Earnhardt Jr., and Kenseth were eliminated in the Contender Round and their stats have remained flat since their elimination (hence Contender Round and Eliminator Round being even). Half of the field remains; what we see could be eye opening for some fans. We all know Gordon is locked into the Championship battle of the Final Four at Homestead. What might be surprising is how consistent Edwards has been in the Chase, improving his average finish during each round. Truex Jr. may not have had the best Challenger Round, but it was great enough to move him along, and he has been quietly improving since. Those high bars in the Eliminator Round that belong to Logano, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch could spell danger for these 3 drivers. They all need to run (much) better than Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Truex Jr. if they want to be battling it out in Homestead for the trophy.

Turning our attention to this weekend’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the 8 remaining Chasers are all in the top 16* with 6* Chasers in top 10.

Predictions

Texas Predictions

*Matt Kenseth is currently serving a 2 race suspension

The fist visit to Texas this year on April 11th was for the Duck Commander 500. Jimmie Johnson walked away with a pair of six shooters that time and the numbers point towards a season sweep in the Lone Star state. Kyle Busch was still in the recovery phase on his season and was not able to participate in the Duck Commander 500.

2015: Duck Commander 500

Driver Finish Start
Kevin Harvick 2 2
Joey Logano 4 6
Brad Keselowski 5 3
Jeff Gordon 7 12
Martin Truex Jr. 9 15
Carl Edwards 10 16
Kurt Busch 14 1

 

One year ago, on November 2, 2014, Jimmie Johnson was victorious in Texas. In a weird turn of events, the Duck Commander 500 and the 2014 AAA Texas 500 produced the same two top 2 finishers in Johnson and Kevin Harvick. With Johnson out of contention for the championship and Harvick still in contention, one might think that Harvick will do whatever he can to not finish 2nd again this weekend.

2014: AAA Texas 500

Driver Finish Start
Kevin Harvick 2 5
Brad Keselowski 3 26
Kyle Busch 4 9
Kurt Busch 8 4
Carl Edwards 9 11
Joey Logano 12 10
Martin Truex Jr. 19 8
Jeff Gordon 29 2

 

Now that we have the drivers covered, let’s take a brief look at what Texas Motor Speedway holds for us:

Texas Race Stats

Change represents the difference from the Fall race to the Spring race

When ranking the average race speeds of the past decade or so of all the tracks on the circuit, believe it or not, Texas is the 3rd fastest track behind the restrictor plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona. Even though the Fall race is slightly slower than the Spring race, this track is still insanely fast! The 1.5 mile quad-oval track boasts 24° banking in all 4 turns with a small 5° banking on the front stretch and back stretch; this allows the cars to carry a great deal of speed off the straightaways into the turns.

Another big difference between the 2 races is the margin of victory; the Fall race is almost double that of the Spring race. This is eye popping given the average final caution lap comes out with about 39 laps to go vs. 53 to go, but there are also more drivers on the lead lap at the end of race in the Fall than the Spring.

So we can keep an eye out for a fast race, long green flag runs, and desperate attempts for Chasers to make it to Homestead! Also, will we see another repeat winner in Texas in Jimmie Johnson? Will Kevin Harvick fight even harder to not be the bridesmaid again? Will someone else step up to the plate and make noise and take attention away from Johnson and Harvick? Can Logano, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch bounce back from their poor performance at Martinsville and leave Texas with their heads held high? So many stories from Martinsville through Texas; who knows what other stories will arise once the Lone Star state in behind us…

Ashley Hobbs

I was born on the 9th of March in a year which you need not know. I was born and raised in the great state of New Jersey, but I now reside in Florida. Here is a bit about myself:

I make friends in random places ?
Wife ❤️
Penguin Enthusiast ?
Mother of (3) Cats ?
Math Tutor ?
Jersey Girl ?️
NASCAR ?
Whovian ?
Go Pack Go ?

I hope you enjoy my segment, Crunching the Numbers, and getting insights into each weekend's NASCAR race!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *