by Garrett Horton
The number of times Kyle Busch has finished higher than eighth in the standings during his tenure with Joe Gibbs. In fact, with 13th the highest he can possibly finish in this year’s final points standings, he will have finished outside the top-10 in points more than he has finished inside in his five seasons with Gibbs.
When Tony Stewart won the championship last year, it marked the one and only time that a winless driver going into the Chase managed to win the Cup title.
The number of times the number one seed in the Chase went on to win the championship (Tony Stewart in 2005 and Jimmie Johnson in 2007).
The number two seed historically has had the most success in the Chase, going on to win a total of three times, all by Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2009, 2010).
With Denny Hamlin going into this year’s Chase as the number one seed, it marked the fourth time in the last five years a Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been at the top of the standings going into the final ten races.
Of Clint Bowyer’s seven career victories, five of them have come from a starting position of fourth or better.
Bowyer’s seventh victory moved him into a six-way tie for 62nd most all-time.
With his fifth-place finish at Richmond, Matt Kenseth scored his first top-5 since Daytona eight races ago.
Greg Biffle, who has scored the most points this year, has an average finish of 9.7 through 26 races in 2012, easily on track to eclipse his previous best of 11.9 in 2005.
Tony Stewart picked up his tenth top-5 of the season on Saturday, already more than his total in 2010 and his championship winning campaign last year.
Most consecutive top-10’s going into the Chase by any eventual champion since NASCAR implemented it’s version of the playoffs in 2004. This was accomplished by Tony Stewart in 2005; however, no other Chase winner has posted more than two consecutive top-10’s going into the final ten races, so momentum doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot.
Tony Stewart ranks only 16th highest in points scored over the last ten races, fewer than any other Chaser.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 17 top-10 finishes in 2012. He needs only five in the last ten races to break his personal best of 21 set in 2003 and 2004.
Despite Jeff Gordon’s amazing mid-season turnaround, going from 22nd in points after the first race at Pocono in June to qualifying for the second wild card spot 12 races later, he has led only 39 laps in that span.
Denny Hamlin has led 377 laps in the last three races, more than double the amount of the driver with the most in that span (teammate Joey Logano with 139).
This year’s class of Chasers include two drivers who have never finished in top-5 in points – Kasey Kahne, who is in his ninth full season and Martin Truex, Jr., currently in his seventh full season. The last time a driver won the championship who had never ended the year in the top-5 in points with at least six years of full-time Cup experience was Alan Kulwicki in 1992.
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