As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the second time in 2020, there are some numbers to consider. There are plenty of stats that are important to consider for each and every race, and also some that stand out. Here are a few (one a dubious honor) Texas records for active drivers, and why they (probably) won’t fall this weekend.
1. Wins: 7 (Jimmie Johnson)
How it can fall: It can’t. A trio of drivers— Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch —are next in line on the wins list with three apiece. A fourth win wouldn’t be enough to catch Johnson. This record is safe.
Why it won’t: Well, because it can’t. The soonest this one can be matched, with TMS dropping to one points race a year as of 2021, is 2023 (should it only hold one race per season), if one of the three drivers with three wins now wins the next four in a row. It may well fall eventually, but it won’t be for a while.
2. Laps led: 1,152 (Johnson)
How it can fall: If Johnson leads no laps Sunday, which is possible and even likely given his 2020 season to date, as Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth both have a crack at it. Busch would need to lead 193 of 334 scheduled laps to tie Johnson, which is possible if he has a dominant race. Kenseth would need to lead a hefty 269 to tie.
Why it probably won’t: Kenseth has been excellent at TMS, but the most laps he’s led in a single race there is 169, and he has only led 13 laps this season. Busch has the better chance; he eclipsed the 193 mark in 2009, leading 232 laps in a race he didn’t win. But again, this is 2020, and Busch hasn’t led more than 52 laps on an intermediate track all season. Over half of the 421 laps he has led came at the two Bristol races. The No. 18 team simply hasn’t shown it can have that dominant a performance on a track like Texas this season.
3. Laps completed: 11,518 (Kurt Busch)
How it can fall: Harvick can tie Busch in laps completed if he stays on track for 167 laps more than Busch can. No other driver can tie or pass Busch this week.
Why it probably won’t: Busch hasn’t finished more than a lap down at TMS since 2014. In that time, he’s finished off the lead lap exactly once. That doesn’t mean he can’t have another bad week, but two catastrophic failures in a row are probably not going to happen (Busch lost an engine at Kansas Speedway last week). A crash could be his undoing, but given his consistency (he and Harvick have had the same number of starts in which to log those laps) Busch is probably safe.
4. Average finish (10 or more starts): 9.7 (Matt Kenseth)
How it can fall: There are a few ways, and this is the record on this list most likely to fall this weekend. Kenseth’s average finish this season is 20.9, and if he finishes on his 2020 average, Harvick could catch him with a top five. That’s actually pretty likely to happen.
Much less likely to catch Kenseth is Chase Elliott, who will just enter the contest with his 10th start, but he’d have to win and Kenseth finish a few spots below his 2020 average. Again, could happen. Least likely but not impossible is a Johnson win coupled with Kenseth finishing dead last on the day. I had to mention it.
Why it probably won’t: If the race plays to 2020 averages instead of TMS averages, it very well could fall. If both drivers finish exactly on their 2020 averages, it will stand, but by the slimmest fraction of a position. But expect Harvick to edge Kenseth here.
5. Worst average finish (10 or more starts): 33.6 (JJ Yeley)
How it can fall: This dubious honor could change hands Sunday if Reed Sorenson finishes dead last (which he has done twice before in the Lone Star State) and Yeley finishes 23rd or better. The next driver in line, Michael Mc Dowell, could also get a worse average than Yeley but he’d have to finish 40th coupled with a Yeley win, and well, yeah, no.
Why it probably won’t: In 31 starts this year, Yeley has cracked the top 23 twice, in the first Kansas race and again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sorenson has so far avoided being dead last in a 40-car field, though. The two happening on the same weekend is unlikely, moreso because Yeley is unlikely to finish high enough to counteract a Sorenson last place. Sorenson might be happy to hear this. Or maybe not.