Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: Kentucky

Saturday, July 8, 2017


The cream rises to the top on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

Most of the speed is found in the wind tunnel or shaker rigs back at the shop, so it should come as no surprise that the four drivers ranked highest this week in terms of their average, were uniformly strong in both practices and qualification.

Pole sitter for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch grabbed the top spot when NASCAR canceled the third round of qualification and it would have been interesting to see where he might have landed otherwise His two practice sessions placed him fifth on the charts each time and while he almost certainly got all he could from his Toyota—after all, he set a new track record of 190.282 mph—his competition might have been able to get a little more out of theirs.

Specifically, it would have been interesting to see if Martin Truex Jr. could have squeezed another 10th of a second off his time. He was the most consistently strong driver in the field with the second-best times in both practice sessions and an outside pole winning run when it mattered most. Not counting the restrictor-plate, superspeedways, this is the 11th consecutive race that he started on one of the first four rows and his strong starts have ended in equally strong finishes. Truex won at Kansas Speedway in May after starting third.

Jamie McMurray is at once the most pleasant surprise and perhaps one of this week’s best values in his salary cap range. He lines up on the outside of the second row and while the television commentators think that is going to be a detriment, he should be able to tiptoe into the bottom groove without losing too much distance to the leaders. He posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session and was seventh-fastest in Happy Hour. He should easily get another top-10.

Ryan Blaney was another consistently fast driver during the weekend. He posted the fourth fastest times in both practice sessions and lines up sixth on the grid. He has not been uniformly strong in the past 10 races and if not for his Pocono Raceway win, he would not be part of the playoff discussion. But he and the Wood Bros. both are strong on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and he could sneak up on the competition.

Fellow sophomore Chase Elliott had the fastest time in the first session of time trials and is another driver who might have been more interesting in the final round if it had occurred. There is a lot going on behind the scenes at Hendrick Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement, Kasey Kahne’s uncertain future, and now speculation that Matt Kenseth could step into either of those rides next year. Elliott recently inked a long-term extension, and he wants to show Rick that he made the right choice.

For the third time this year, Kyle Larson did not make it through inspection. The last time this happened was at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coke 600 and we predicted he would be a great value with a ton of positive place-differential points. Larson crashed and finished 33rd—only six positions better than he started. At the risk of jinxing him again, we will make the same prediction that Larson is going to be one of the top values this week. He should easily challenge for a top-10 and get at least 30 points for advancing. Take note, however, that he has crashed out of two previous Kentucky attempts in three attempts.
 

Start

Driver

Qual
Speed

Practice 1
Rank

Final Practice
Rank

Avg.
Rank

           

2

Martin Truex Jr.

      190.194

2

2

2.0

1

Kyle Busch

      190.282

5

5

3.7

4

Jamie McMurray

      189.713

1

7

4.0

6

Ryan Blaney

      189.560

4

4

4.7

12

Chase Elliott

      188.844

9

3

8.0

5

Denny Hamlin

      189.687

6

14

8.3

8

Jimmie Johnson

      189.321

12

6

8.7

3

Matt Kenseth

      189.740

17

7

9.0

16

Clint Bowyer

      188.587

8

10

11.3

14

Erik Jones

      188.752

10

11

11.7

7

Kevin Harvick

      189.553

13

19

13.0

10

Brad Keselowski

      189.215

15

15

13.3

11

Joey Logano

      189.109

16

13

13.3

18

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      188.311

11

12

13.7

9

Daniel Suarez

      189.288

14

18

13.7

40

Kyle Larson

 -

3

1

14.7

17

Darrell Wallace Jr.

      188.442

23

9

16.3

19

Trevor Bayne

      188.311

18

16

17.7

15

Kurt Busch

      188.686

21

17

17.7

20

Danica Patrick

      187.520

7

28

18.3

13

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      188.772

24

25

20.7

23

Kasey Kahne

      186.123

19

21

21.0

25

Austin Dillon

      185.561

20

22

22.3

22

Chris Buescher

      186.194

22

24

22.7

28

AJ Allmendinger

      184.754

25

23

25.3

26

David Ragan

      185.382

30

20

25.3

21

Michael McDowell

      186.265

26

30

25.7

24

Paul Menard

      185.899

29

26

26.3

27

Ty Dillon

      184.799

28

27

27.3

29

Ryan Newman

      184.634

27

29

28.3

30

Matt DiBenedetto

      183.880

31

33

31.3

31

Ryan Sieg

      181.647

33

31

31.7

35

Landon Cassill

      178.849

32

34

33.7

33

Reed Sorenson

      180.475

34

35

34.0

32

Cole Whitt

      181.269

35

37

34.7

36

Jeffrey Earnhardt

      177.995

36

32

34.7

35

Joey Gase

      178.849

39

36

36.7

37

BJ McLeod

      177.107

37

38

37.3

39

Gray Gaulding

      176.453

38

39

38.7

38

Timmy Hill

      176.794

40

40

39.3

 

10-Lap Averages

   

10-Lap Averages

 

Avg

Practice 1

   

Final Practice

 

Rank

                   

 

Kyle Larson

 

   

1

Kyle Larson

  181.516

 

1.0

1

Kyle Busch

      183.148

   

 

Kyle Busch

 

 

1.0

2

Denny Hamlin

      182.985

   

 

Denny Hamlin

 

 

2.0

 

Brad Keselowski

 

   

3

Brad Keselowski

  180.017

 

3.0

3

Martin Truex Jr.

      182.608

   

 

Martin Truex Jr.

 

 

3.0

 

Chase Elliott

 

   

4

Chase Elliott

  179.892

 

4.0

4

Erik Jones

      182.403

   

 

Erik Jones

 

 

4.0

8

Jimmie Johnson

      181.499

   

2

Jimmie Johnson

  180.858

 

5.0

 

Ryan Blaney

 

   

5

Ryan Blaney

  179.845

 

5.0

5

Kevin Harvick

      182.036

   

 

Kevin Harvick

 

 

5.0

 

Daniel Suarez

 

   

6

Daniel Suarez

  179.704

 

6.0

 

Michael McDowell

 

   

7

Michael McDowell

  178.846

 

7.0

6

Jamie McMurray

      182.010

   

8

Jamie McMurray

  178.760

 

7.0

 

Kurt Busch

 

   

9

Kurt Busch

  178.710

 

9.0

7

Kasey Kahne

      181.743

   

11

Kasey Kahne

  178.606

 

9.0

9

Darrell Wallace Jr.

      180.964

   

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

 

 

9.0

 

Joey Logano

 

   

10

Joey Logano

  178.675

 

10.0

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

   

12

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  178.323

 

12.0

 

Ty Dillon

 

   

13

Ty Dillon

  177.282

 

13.0

 

Danica Patrick

 

   

14

Danica Patrick

  176.322

 

14.0

 

Ryan Sieg

 

   

15

Ryan Sieg

  172.062

 

15.0

 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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