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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Numbers Game 08/20/2012

by Garrett Horton

In three of the last four races, Jimmie Johnson has been the race leader with under ten laps to go, but has only managed to win once, which was at Indy. He lost the lead in the rain shortened Pocono event on lap 90 of 98 when a flat tire caused him to spin on the final restart, and blew an engine as the race leader on Sunday with just under six laps left.

Greg Biffle returned to a familiar spot Sunday, reclaiming the points lead after being atop the standings for 11 weeks earlier in the year. The lead change marked the fourth time in the last five races we have had a different points leader, with Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth taking turns.

The average final points position of the August Michigan winner for the last six years, none of which went on to win the championship. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1998 when a winner of the second Michigan event went on to win the championship in the same year when Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat.

With his victory on Sunday, points leader Greg Biffle moved into a tie for 42nd on the all-time wins list with 18, joining Geoff Bodine, Harry Gant, Neil Bonnett, and Kevin Harvick.

Regan Smith’s finishing position at Michigan. Smith was coming off of back-to-back ninth-place finishes at Pocono and Watkins Glen, the first time in his six year career he had posted consecutive top-10 results.

Pole-sitter Mark Martin led 54 laps at Michigan before getting involved in a crash on lap 64. It was the most laps he has led in a race in nearly three years; he led 68 laps en route to his most recent Cup victory, coming at Loudon in the fall of 2009.

Over the last six races, Ryan Newman has scored 217 points, behind only Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne. Newman, who currently holds the second wild card spot in the Chase, had gone without a top-10 in the 11 races before that.

A sour motor prevented Tony Stewart from maintaining minimum race speed on Sunday, and as a result was credited with a DNF due to engine failure. This is the first time in 236 races that Stewart has had an engine failure. You have to go all the way back to the second race in 2006 at Fontana, where Smoke finished dead last after leading 28 laps.

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