Loop update 2006-11-14

Driver Rating Suggests Harvick Will be Hard to Beat at Homestead-Miami DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2006) -- This weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway could be another wild-card race according to pre-race...

Driver Rating Suggests Harvick Will be Hard to Beat at Homestead-Miami

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2006) -- This weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway could be another wild-card race according to pre-race Driver Rating. Kevin Harvick is the only championship-eligible Chase contender ranking in the top 10 of pre-race Driver Rating.

Harvick, who finished eighth in last season's Ford 400, has the eighth-best pre-race Driver Rating of 100.9. He spent most of his time running in the top 15 last year at Homestead-Miami. Harvick completed 98.1% of his Laps in the Top 15 there; this helped him amass a Quality Passing Percentage of 100%, meaning all 51 of his Green-Flag Passes came over a car running in the top 15.

Matt Kenseth ranks 11th in pre-race Driver Rating. He finished third last season at Homestead-Miami, but Kenseth's day was far different from Harvick's. Kenseth was running 15th at mid-race last season and stormed to the front of the field. passing nine cars over the final 10% of the race, which made him the top Closer. This year he'll need to improve on his Laps in the Top 15 to contend; last season at Homestead, Kenseth completed 50.6% of his Laps in the Top 15.

Series leader Jimmie Johnson's pre-race Driver Rating of 55.6 ranks 28th at Homestead, but Johnson finished 40th due to an accident last season. To win his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship, Johnson needs to:

* Finish of 12th or better and lead no laps;
* Finish of 13th or better and lead at least one lap;
* Finish of 15th or better and lead the most laps.

Johnson has three top-10 finishes in five career starts at Homestead.

Loop Logic ...

* The pre-race Driver Rating has been remarkably accurate in predicting strong performance. In fact, the competitor with the highest pre-race driver rating has finished in the top three 43% of the time this year -- that driver has won the race 23% of the time.

* The race winner has had a pre-race Driver Rating ranking in the top four in 15 of the 35 races (43%).

* The race winner has had a pre-race Driver Rating ranking in the top 10 in 21 of the 35 races (60%).

* The race winner has had a pre-race Driver Rating ranking in the top 12 in 27 of the 35 races (77%).

Passing Thoughts ...

* Dale Earnhardt Jr. has completed the most Green-Flag Passes at Homestead-Miami with 78. Earnhardt has been passed only 66 times, giving him a Passing Differential of 12.

* Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears lead in Quality Passes at Homestead-Miami with 51 each.

From STATS LLC (the company that compiles NASCAR's Loop Data) ...

"Greg Biffle has won the past two races at Homestead-Miami, but Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards was the class of the field last year. Carl Edwards finished fourth, but had the highest Driver Rating (134.6) and was the Fastest Driver on Restarts (166.851 mph). Edwards had the best Average Running Position (2.360) and ran 241 of the 267 laps inside the top three (90.3%). Carl Edwards had the Fastest Green-Flag Speed (168.314) and was Fastest Early in a Run (170.360). Edwards led the most laps (94 laps, 35.2%) and ran the most Fastest Laps (42, 18.9% of Green-Flag Laps).

"With Roush Racing taking the top four places last year (Mark Martin ran second and Matt Kenseth ran third), Kenseth still has a shot to win the championship if Johnson runs into trouble like he did last year, finishing 40th (Johnson's teammates Kyle Busch finished 41st and Brian Vickers finished 43rd). However, Jimmie Johnson posted a top 10 in each of the three years preceding Loop Data (2002 to 2004)." -- Stefan Kretschmann, STATS LLC.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin