David Smith crunches the numbers for the NRA 500
I hope you all enjoyed restrictor plate action (or in this yearâs case, inaction), short track madness and whatever it is weâre calling Fontana now, because all of that is in the rearview mirror. The intermediate tracks, referred to by some fans as âcookie cutters,â provide a semblance of statistical normalcy. Speed and strategy reins on these 1.5- and 2-milers, and while last yearâs fall race at Texas Motor Speedway â this weekendâs destination â was an action-packed affair, the top finishers at these tracks are anything but random. We know who the key players will be, thanks to their statistical history on the tracks that comprise the bulk of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
This weekâs statistical cavalcade bridges Martinsville, where Jimmie Johnson showcased his short track mastery, to Texas, a track favored by a certain blue oval-backed racing organization.
69.2% Jimmie Johnson led a whopping 346 laps (69.2 percent of the race) last Sunday at Martinsville, en route to this eighth win at the facility.
We are used to Johnsonâs sheer dominance on the half-mile paperclip-shaped track, but in seven previous wins he never threw down a performance like the one witnessed last weekend. It was a showing of team strength and driving expertise. As he did last fall, Johnson departs Martinsvilleâs Victory Lane for Texas, where he won following an exciting late-race battle with Brad Keselowski.
64.56% Danica Patrick recorded her best single-race passing efficiency, winning 64.56 percent of her pass encounters in her debut race at Martinsville.
The 12th-place finish was aided by her plus-passing â her pass differential for the day was plus-23 â after starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change. On a track that isnât often kind to first-time racers (ask Ricky Stenhouse), Patrick had, arguably, her best Cup Series performance to date.
5.700 In the 10 CoT races that took place at Texas Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth amassed a series-high 5.700 Production in Equal Equipment Rating.
A beacon of consistency in the Lone Star State, Kenseth has finished ninth or better in nine of the last 10 races for an incredible 6.2-place average finish (backed by an amazingly consistent 5.5 finish deviation). Strangely, his average green-flag speed and his finishes at TMS donât often coalesce; the one time he had the fastest car at Texas, he won (April 2011), but it is more typical that he radically out-performs his equipment, like his fourth-place finish last fall while averaging the 10th-best green-flag speed, or under-performs, like his ninth-place score while averaging the fourth-fastest speed in the spring of 2008.