Loop Data update 2006-08-14

KEVIN HARVICK SURGING TOWARD A SPOT IN THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR NEXTEL CUP * Harvick Top-Rated Driver in Race to the Chase * Time for Busch and Biffle to Make Their Moves DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2006) -- Kevin Harvick has quickly...

KEVIN HARVICK SURGING TOWARD A SPOT IN THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR NEXTEL CUP

* Harvick Top-Rated Driver in Race to the Chase

* Time for Busch and Biffle to Make Their Moves

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2006) -- Kevin Harvick has quickly become the driver to beat during the "Race to the Chase."

Harvick has yet to finish outside of the top 10 during the Race to the Chase -- the 10-race lead-in to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- and has only one finish out of the top five, a ninth-place finish at Daytona in July. Additionally, Harvick has turned in a triple-digit Driver Rating at five of the six Race to the Chase events thus far.

Proof of Harvick's recent surge is evident on the stat sheet.

Prior to the Race to the Chase Harvick had an Average Start of 17.0 and an Average Finish of only 15.9. Since the beginning of the Race to the Chase he has improved his Average Start and Finish dramatically and holds an Average Start of 13.2 and an Average Finish of 4.5.

Harvick has also increased his Driver Rating -- a rating that takes a driver's entire performance into account and relies on more than just wins to rate a driver. Prior to the Race to the Chase he had a Driver Rating of 89.0. Since the Race to the Chase began at Daytona Harvick has amassed a Driver Rating of 114.1.

Driver Rating is not the only area where he has stepped up. Harvick's Average Running Position has also improved going from 15.838 prior to Daytona to 7.569 following this past Sunday's race at Watkins Glen International. Helping him improve his Average Running Position has been his ability to run consistently in the top 15. Prior to the Race to the Chase, Harvick completed only 64.2% of his Laps in the Top 15, over the last six races, however, he has completed 91.3% of his Laps in the Top 15.

Harvick has gained more points than any other driver during the Race to the Chase, 973, and has made strides in his average point gain. During the Race to the Chase he is averaging 162 points per race compared to just 122 in the races prior to the Race to the Chase.

Time to Step Up for Busch and Biffle ...

Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle remain on the bubble and are trying desperately to make it into contention for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. All hope is not lost for these drivers who rank eighth and 12th best in the Race to the Chase according to Driver Rating.

Busch, only 172 points out of 10th, and Biffle only 180 back, have to look no further than Matt Kenseth's performance in 2005 for their Chase inspirations. Kenseth was 165 points out of 10th following Watkins Glen in 2005 and raced his way into Chase contention by California. With a strong performance down the stretch they have good shots at challenging for one of the final spots in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Loop Data Analysis from STATS LLC:

From Stefan Kretschmann of STATS LLC (the company that compiles NASCAR's Loop Data):

"Kevin Harvick has turned up the heat in the Race to the Chase and is dominating many of the leader boards over that time period. He has the best Driver Rating with a 114.1; second-best belongs to Tony Stewart with a 106.0. Harvick's 973 points is tops in the circuit as well, out-pacing second-place Kyle Busch by 27 points. Harvick has the best Average Running Position (7.568) with Jimmie Johnson in a distant second with 9.991. Harvick is the only driver to score a top 10 in each of the races (including five top fives and one win). He's spent 1,085 Laps in the Top 15 (91.3%), far more than Jimmie Johnson who's second best with 974 laps (82.0%). With top 10s earlier this year at three of the four tracks remaining in the Race to the Chase, it looks like he should have excellent momentum going into the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

Loop Logic ...

* If Kasey Kahne hopes to work his way back into contention for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup he needs to improve his passing differential. Kahne has completed 1,397 Green Flag Passes but has been passed 1,505 times, a difference of 108.

* Matt Kenseth leads all drivers with 4,731 Laps in the Top 15, meaning he has completed 77.9% of all laps in the top 15.

* Series leader Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with 1,264 Quality Passes. Johnson has a percentage of Quality Passes of 79.2%.

FAST FACTS

Loop Data -- Season-To-Date

Driver Rating NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
1. Matt Kenseth 101.8
1. Jimmie Johnson 101.8
3. Tony Stewart 99.6
4. Greg Biffle 99.5
5. Jeff Burton 97.1
6. Jeff Gordon 96.9
7. Kevin Harvick 95.9
8. Denny Hamlin 92.6
9. Kyle Busch 92.3
10. Mark Martin 91.8

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin