Going By the Numbers · Kevin Rutherford · Tuesday July 9, 2013
Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona marked the end of the first half of the 2013 Sprint Cup season, a circuit that has numbered 18 races and seen a bevy of winners, strong performances and poor showings.
With the second half of the season now upon us, it’s time to look into some of the interesting numbers and trends from 2013 through Daytona. Who has more DNFs than any other potential Chase contender? Who doesn’t have any top 10s at all? Who’s quietly piecing together his team’s best season ever?
Check out this collection of intriguing storylines and statistics that have made the 2013 season what it is — so far.
1: Number of Top 10s by a Rookie Contender
OK, so maybe this isn’t as interesting a stat as it used to be, especially considering the Sprint Cup Series’ recent rookie classes. However, we went into 2013 with a renewed optimism, since the two members of the rookie class drive for proven, successful organizations. Also possibly unexpected? That one top-10 finish belongs to Danica Patrick. Patrick famously finished 8th in the season-opening Daytona 500, but has not found the top 10 since. Meanwhile, fellow rookie/significant other Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has followed his two straight Nationwide championships with no top 10s at all, though he’s had plenty of top-20 finishes and still sits within reach of a wild card spot for the Chase, if he happened onto a victory. Stay tuned to see if either can add to that tally. Otherwise, 2013’s rookie class will be remembered for a lot of things, but not its actual success.
9th: Kurt Busch’s Points Position
Bear in mind that Kurt Busch, while obviously a top-tier competitor, hasn’t finished in the top 10 in points since 2009, when he placed 4th. What’s more? He’s doing it for Furniture Row Racing, a team most have written off basically since the beginning of its existence not because it was bad, but because it hasn’t been that great, either. We’re talking upper-20s in overall standings and just one win, by the way. Chalk it up to a championship caliber driver in the seat, or a continued partnership with Richard Childress Racing, but Busch and Furniture Row have easily been the series’ biggest surprise this year in terms of results the entire year. If they make the Chase, it’ll be even sweeter. Who was 9th in points this time last year?
0: Wins for Brad Keselowski in 2013
He’s not the only one, but by this time last year, he wasn’t exactly lighting up the series in points scored (see Kurt Busch entry above), but he did have three wins to his credit (though, his top 5 and top 10 column were exactly the same as they are now). Keselowski went on a tear at the beginning of the season but has since lost a lot of spunk, and without a win, he’s currently out of the Chase. He’d become the first defending champion not to at least make the playoffs if he doesn’t either spout off a victory or climb back into the top 10 in points.
1: Number of Wins for Front Row Motorsports in 2013
Can we continue to let that sink in? I know it’s been two months, but I’m still reeling from the good vibes.
13: Races at Which Jeff Gordon Has Been Running at the Finish
You want the biggest reason Jeff Gordon isn’t in the top 10 in points? How about a staggering five DNFs, something positively uncommon for a driver with a higher caliber team. In fact, of drivers who have run all the races and haven’t start-and-parked, only Travis Kvapil has more with six. Gordon’s stats otherwise aren’t spectacular — four top fives and six top-10 finishes — but it’s the crashes and one suspension failure that have really done him in. Minus the DNFs, he’s finished on the lead lap all but once — one lap down at Las Vegas, finishing 25th — and has shown speed in those races. It’s downright imperative he shakes the bad luck soon, with the Chase approaching. A win would be nice, but the same could go for a lot of guys.
63: Drivers Who Have Run at Least One Cup Race in 2013
That number is down from 69 at this point last year, 70 the year before that. You have to go back to 2009 (59) to find the last time that amount was this low, but given the entry lists that often only number 43, maybe 44 drivers, with little turnover, it makes sense. That number only includes four first-timers in the series, all of whom (Alex Kennedy, Paulie Harraka, Victor Gonzalez Jr., Justin Marks) debuted at the same track (Sonoma).
6.1, 7.9, 10.2: Average Starting Positions of Joe Gibbs Racing Drivers
For the record, those numbers belong to Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, respectively. Of drivers who race in the series full time, those averages are good for first-, second- and fourth-best in the series (Kasey Kahne is third at 8.9, while Sam Hornish Jr. leads overall because of a fourth-place start in his lone race). Between them, the Gibbs teammates have eight poles, nearly half of the season’s races. Think they got this qualifying thing figured out?
Jimmie Johnson Leads the Series in Almost Every Relevant Category.
Yep, we’re talking wins and top 5s (though he’s actually tied with Matt Kenseth for wins and Kyle Busch in the other), top 10s, total laps run AND led, average finish, etc., etc. Oh, and he’s leading the points, so there’s that. If he’s already this on point, are betting men even going to try to go against him come Chase time? It’s been an all-over-the-place season, so who knows?
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