Martin, Johnson - pre Chase loop update

COULD THIS BE THE YEAR MARTIN OR JOHNSON FINALLY FINISHES FIRST? * Martin has best cumulative Driver Rating at all 10 Chase tracks * Johnson has more wins at Chase tracks than any other Chase driver DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2006) -- Mark...

COULD THIS BE THE YEAR MARTIN OR JOHNSON FINALLY FINISHES FIRST?

* Martin has best cumulative Driver Rating at all 10 Chase tracks
* Johnson has more wins at Chase tracks than any other Chase driver

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2006) -- Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson have finished second in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings a combined total of six times. Martin has been a runner-up four times, most recently in 2002. Johnson has finished second twice, including in 2004 where he finished only eight points behind eventual series champion Kurt Busch.

Martin and Johnson both hope this will be their year, and NASCAR's Loop Data suggests that perhaps one of them will win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship in 2006.

Loop Data based on 2005 and 2006 shows that Mark Martin has the best cumulative Driver Rating (99.3) of all participants in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Martin has compiled one win, 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes at Chase tracks over the past two seasons. In addition to his Driver Rating, Martin has the best Average Running Position (11.428) of any driver in the Chase.

Martin also has the second-best Average Finish of 10.9. and has the highest Percentage of Fastest Laps, running the fastest lap at a Chase track 5.5% of the time.

The most compelling statistic is Martin's Average Point Gain at Chase tracks. Martin averages 140.5 points per race, the most of any driver in the Chase.

Johnson has built a reputation as a driver who performs well early in the season and falls off late; 2006 might be his best chance to erase that reputation.

Johnson has more wins at Chase tracks -- four -- than any other driver in the Chase. Additionally, he has 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes at Chase tracks. All of this has helped Johnson amass the second-best Driver Rating of 99.1 at Chase tracks.

Johnson has the second-best Average Running Position (12.151) trailing only Martin in that category. Helping Johnson obtain a strong Average Running Position has been his ability to run up front. He has led 4.9% of the time at tracks in the Chase and he has run in the top 15 on 74.7% of the laps at Chase tracks -- which is the highest total for any driver.

Like Martin, Johnson also has one of the best Average Point gains of any driver in the Chase. Johnson averages 139.9 points per race, trailing only Martin.

Loop Data Analysis from STATS LLC:

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

"Mark Martin has the best Driver Rating at the upcoming tracks with a 99.3, followed closely by Jimmie Johnson with a 99.1. Martin also has scored the most top fives (12), has the best Average Running Position (11.428) and leads in both the Highest Percentage of Laps Led (8.4%) and Highest Percentage of Fastest Laps run (5.5%). Johnson leads in wins (four), top 10s (19) and Percentage of Laps in the Top 15 (74.7). He also holds a slight edge in Average Finishing Position over Martin (10.7 to 10.9), but trails him in Average Points earned (139.9 to 140.5).

"Oddly enough, Martin has the lowest Driver Rating of Chase drivers for the season (91.0, 12th in the series), which wasn't helped by his performance during the Race to the Chase (84.1, 13th in the series and lowest among Chase contenders as well). The hottest drivers during the Race to the Chase were Kevin Harvick (109.1 Driver Rating with an Average Finish of 6.5), Matt Kenseth (105.4 Driver Rating with an Average Running Position of 9.756) and Kyle Busch (105.4 Driver Rating with eight top 10's). Along with this trio, Denny Hamlin was the only other driver to score over 1,400 points during the 10-race span (1412). Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton were the only Chase contenders not to earn a win during the Race to the Chase, but Burton led the most laps (495 laps, 19.5%) and Earnhardt put down the third most Fastest Laps (178 laps, 8.4% of the Green-Flag Laps). Jeff Gordon is getting hot with five top-five finishes during the Race to the Chase and Kasey Kahne made an impressive run of three top fives in the past four races. With the most points ever needed to make it to the Chase this year (3,319), it's clear these drivers are all having incredible seasons and will create some powerful excitement in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup."

Loop Logic ...

Entering the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup there are only three drivers who have not recorded a win at a Chase track in the last two seasons. Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson has the most wins of Chase drivers at Chase tracks with four; Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne each have three wins at Chase tracks over the past two seasons.

Kyle Busch has shown he can win at Chase tracks -- he has two wins at these tracks over the past two seasons -- but he also can struggle. Busch has the lowest Average Finish (21.5) at these tracks despite his two wins.

FAST FACTS

Loop Data -- Chase Tracks

Driver Rating NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
1. Mark Martin 99.3
2. Jimmie Johnson 99.1
3. Matt Kenseth 94.5
4. Jeff Gordon 94.3
5. Kyle Busch 83.6
6. Kasey Kahne 82.8
7. Kevin Harvick 81.7
8. Jeff Burton 79.1
9. Jeff Burton 78.0
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 76.0

-credit: nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin