Crunching The Numbers: The Championship

Four great drivers and four great stories – that is the Championship Four. You’ve got the reigning champion looking to defend his title; you’ve got the 4-time champion who is hanging up his helmet after 400 more miles of racing, there’s the come back kid of the season who missed 11 races due to injury yet still made it into the Chase and continues his crazy season; there is also the single car dream team out of Colorado that is shoving stats down the haters’ throats.


1. Kevin Harvick – #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Budweiser ChevroletKH Win

  • Average Finish: 8.86
  • Starts: 35
  • Wins: 3
  • DNFs: 1
  • Top 5s: 22 (62.86%)
  • Top 10s: 27 (77.14%)
  • Top 15s: 29 (82.56%)
  • 2014 Points Standing: 1st

 

2. Jeff Gordon – #24 Hendrick Motorsports Axalta ChevroletJG Win

  • Average Finish: 13.91
  • Starts: 35
  • Wins: 1
  • DNFs: 1
  • Top 5s: 5 (14.29%)
  • Top 10s: 20 (57.14%)
  • Top 15s: 24 (68.57%)
  • 2014 Points Standing: 6th

 

3. Kyle Busch – #18 Joe Gibbs Racing M&Ms ToyotaKB Win

  • Average Finish: 11.17
  • Starts: 24
  • Wins: 4
  • DNFs: 2
  • Top 5s: 11 (45.83%)
  • Top 10s: 15 (62.50%)
  • Top 15s: 18 (75%)
  • 2014 Points Standing: 10th

 

4. Martin Truex Jr. – #78 Furniture Row Racing ChevroletMTJ Win

  • Average Finish: 12.23
  • Starts: 35
  • Wins: 1
  • DNFs: 2
  • Top 5s: 8 (22.56%)
  • Top 10s: 22 (62.86%)
  • Top 15s: 27 (77.14%)
  • 2014 Points Standing: 24th

 

One of these men will hoist the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy over there heads on Sunday night in Homestead, FL. For two of these drivers, it will not be the first time lifting it, but for the other two, they are oh so close to their first Cup Championship. For one driver, it will be his last chance to hoist the Championship trophy; something he has not done since 2001. There are just so many great stories from each of these drivers; I do not think a better dream Championship Four could have been picked by NASCAR themselves! Much of this final week of the season will be shining light upon Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch; and my guess is Jeff Gordon will be getting slightly more attention than the other 3 drivers. However, these drivers know how to race under pressure, and Sunday afternoon will be the ultimate test of how they handle the pressure; same goes for their entire team.

Championship 4 Graph

How good have these 4 drivers been during the Chase? How well have they driven at Homestead-Miami Speedway? For starters, Jeff Gordon has the best overall Chase average finish. Martin Truex Jr. had the best Challenger Round, Jeff Gordon had the best Contender Round, and Kyle Busch & Kevin Harvick tied for the best Eliminator Round. When it comes to Homestead, Kevin Harvick holds a very slight edge on Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr., while Kyle Busch will need to look for a little something extra. What the graph is saying is this: THIS RACE WILL BE INSANELY CLOSE!!!!!!!!!! You might want to make sure you take some calming meds before the race takes off as these 4 men will be sure to put on one of the best (if not the best) race of the season.

2014: Ford EcoBoost 400

Driver Finish Start
Kevin Harvick 1 5
Jeff Gordon 10 1
Martin Truex Jr. 17 10
Kyle Busch 39 7

 

Last year, Kevin Harvick won the race and thereby claiming his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. The average finish of the Champion since the Chase was implemented in 2004 at Homestead is 8.18 with an average starting position of 9.45. In other words, these drivers will have to be on their game even more so this year than previous years. Harvick went out and did exactly what had to be done last year to ensure he controlled his own destiny by winning the race, and I have a feeling that will need to be the situation this year. Like it or not, the Chase does provide a lot of excitement for Homestead, and also brings an extra helping of pressure and anxiety on the side!

Now that we have seen some stats and graphs on the Chasers vying for the shiny trophy, let us take a peak at who else might be a candidate for victory lane on Sunday, leaving our 4 great drivers to fight for positions with each other.

At the top of the leader board, we see 3 of our Chasers (in light yellow), while 1 sits on the bottom. But don't let that fool you as these are the best of the best and that is what we will see on Sunday!

At the top of the leader board, we see 3 of our Chasers (in light yellow), while 1 sits on the bottom. But don’t let that fool you as these are the best of the best and that is what we will see on Sunday!

We see some great competition at the front of the field with 60% of the (predicted) top 5 being Chasers; 1 of those in the top 5 barely missed out on being in the hunt for the Championship this weekend, but he is always one to watch when coming to the season’s final race. There was a time when a Ford always seemed to find victory lane at the appropriately named Ford EcoBoost 400, but that has not happened since Carl Edwards was at Roush Fenway Racing in 2010. Since then, the winds have sifted toward the Chevrolets, and this year, the Toyotas have been just as competitive as the Chevrolets have largely with thanks to Joe Gibbs Racing. The only thing that we can say is certain is things are going to be great as we all watch the best of the best battle it out to lift the hardware at the end of the day.

Homestead Team Stats

Teams in bold have a driver in the Chase; colors mark the best in each category

This year will mark the 13th consecutive year that NASCAR's season-ending championship races in its top three national series will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (PRNewsFoto/Homestead-Miami Speedway)

And last, but certainly not least, we have some specs and stats about Homestead-Miami Speedway. Every little bit of information can be quite helpful in helping one to determine who is watch. Homestead-Miami Speedway is a 1.5 mile Oval racetrack is just over 30 miles south of Miami, 270 miles south-east from Orlando, and 290 miles south-east from my home here in Florida. The lovely thing about Florida in November is you can still wear shorts and flip flips as the weather is usually in the low to mid 80’s. But as always with Florida, mother nature loves to bring rain to the party, so that may very well be a factor during the race weekend. Once those cars get on track, the track’s banking is a progressive 18°-20° in the turns and an almost flat 3° on the front stretch and back stretch (which are both 1,760 feet in length).

267 laps are scheduled to be run for the Ford EcoBoost 400

267 laps are scheduled to be run for the Ford EcoBoost 400

There you have it my friends; statistics for Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch throughout the season and heading into Homestead for the last race of the season. Who is your pick to be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion?
Gordon Number  Will it be the driver retiring on top of his game finally capturing his 5th Championship?

Harvick 4 Will the 2014 champion earn a 2nd (consecutive) one?

Martin Number  Will the driver they dub the Clam Prince Of New Jersey (where I was born and raised) bring some hardware home to the Garden State?

Busch Number  Will the driver who beat all odds and realistically not have made it into the Chase quiet all the haters out there and finally close the deal on what he has been so close to for a while?

Tune into NBC on Sunday, November 22nd at 3:00pm to find out who will raise the trophy (or trophies) nice and high!

Don’t forget to follow Phoenix International Raceway/Jeff Gordon Raceway on Twitter and like them on Facebook to stay tuned into any exciting or breaking news stories that may come out of the Sunset State.

And, if you haven’t yet, please give your favorite NASCAR statistician a follow on Twitter and Facebook so you can be first to see my awesome stats!

Ashley Hobbs

Birthday: 9 March 1989 (so I do not have to update my age each year)
Location: Florida (Jersey native, born and raised)

What better way to combine 2 of my favorite things, NASCAR and statistics, than providing y'all with an analytical report each weekend during the NASCAR season.

When I am not crunching the numbers, I spend time with my hubby, 3 black cats (Ninja, Daytona, and Chronos), and I watch too much TV, especially Doctor Who. Why yes, I am a geek and proud! So join forces with me and follow my weekly Crunching The Numbers segment. Who knows, I may surprise you!

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