SHAKE-UP IN THE CHASE LIKELY IN TEXAS DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2006) -- The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series could see an unprecedented shake-up this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The top-five drivers are currently separated by...
SHAKE-UP IN THE CHASE LIKELY IN TEXAS
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2006) -- The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series could see an unprecedented shake-up this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The top-five drivers are currently separated by only 84 points and in the 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races held at TMS there has never been a repeat winner.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart (111.8) and Denny Hamlin (111.4) rank first and second in Driver Rating at Texas Motor Speedway, respectively. Neither Stewart nor Hamlin has ever won at the Texas track.
Helping Stewart amass the top Driver Rating has been his ability to run at the front of the field. He has an Average Running Position of 6.4 and has completed 91.8% of his laps at Texas Motor Speedway in the top 15.
A good run for Hamlin this weekend could enable the rookie to challenge for the points. Hamlin is currently third in the standings behind Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson and is only 65 points out of first place.
Hamlin's Driver Rating of 111.4 is second-best at Texas and he is averaging a finish of 5.5 in two races at Texas Motor Speedway. He has been successful at keeping himself in contention for a win at Texas with 99.9% of his laps being run in the top 15.
Kenseth is hoping to retain the points lead with a strong run this weekend. Kenseth, a former winner at Texas, has the fourth-best Driver Rating at 106.3.
Additionally, Kenseth has gained more points at Texas over the past three races than any other driver. He has gained a total of 464 points at Texas in the past two seasons and is averaging 155 points per race at Texas.
Loop Logic ...
* The average Driver Rating of the winning driver in 2006 is 98.3. The average pre-race Driver Rating rank for the winning driver is 9.25. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (93.3), a former winner at Texas, has the ninth-best Driver Rating heading into Texas.
* Kahne won the spring race at Texas Motor Speedway with a pre-race Driver Rating of 103.4, third-best heading into that event.
* The median finish of the driver with the top pre-race Driver Rating is fourth in 2006. This week's highest rated driver is Tony Stewart (111.8). A good finish for Stewart at Texas would help him solidify his hold on 11th place in the standings.
Texas Motor Speedway generates some of the fastest racing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Turn 4 is where the most passing happens. The Frontstretch ranks second. Here is the breakdown of the 5,644 Green-Flag
Passing Thoughts ...
* Carl Edwards has completed the most Green-Flag Passes at Texas with 208. Edwards has only been passed 107 times giving him a Passing Differential of 101.
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads in Quality Passes at Texas with 119. Earnhardt has an Average Finish of 9.7 at Texas.
From STATS LLC (the company that compiles NASCAR's Loop Data) ...
"Joe Gibbs Racing hasn't won at Texas yet, but with their teams' strong Loop Data statistics there over the past two years, that drought could be ending. Tony Stewart leads all drivers with a Driver Rating of 111.8, followed closely by teammate Denny Hamlin with 111.4. Hamlin leads the pack in Average Running Position (6.274) edging out Stewart who was second best (6.361). Hamlin and Stewart haven't finished lower than seventh in the last two races there and teammate J.J. Yeley led a few laps and was running 10th this spring when he spun out in Turn 4.
"Roush Racing is also well represented on the Texas leader boards. Roush Racing drivers Greg Biffle (110.6), Matt Kenseth (106.3) and Mark Martin (102.7) round out the top five in Driver Rating. Biffle was the Fastest Driver Early in a Run (180.009 mph) and was second quick Late in a Run (173.209). Carl Edwards is the fastest down the backstretch (181.771) and second fastest down the frontstretch (177.137). Biffle had the fastest car in Turn 1 (185.226), Turn 3 (176.772) and Turn 4 (171.610). That speed helped him lead the most laps (280, 27.9% of total laps), run the most Fastest Laps (152, 17.8% of green flag laps run) and put up the Fastest Green Flag Speed (176.525)." -- Stefan Kretschmann, STATS LLC.
Driver Rating at Texas (Based on loop data since 2005)
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
1. Tony Stewart 111.8
2. Denny Hamlin 111.4
3. Greg Biffle 110.6
4. Matt Kenseth 106.3
5. Mark Martin 102.7
6. Casey Mears 101.1
7. Carl Edwards 97.6
8. Jimmie Johnson 94.3
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 93.3
10. Reed Sorenson 90.7
Chase Drivers at Texas
1. Denny Hamlin 111.4
2. Matt Kenseth 106.3
3. Mark Martin 102.7
4. Jimmie Johnson 94.3
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 93.3
6. Kasey Kahne 90.2
7. Kevin Harvick 84.2
8. Jeff Gordon 75.6
9. Jeff Burton 72.3
10. Kyle Busch 70.4