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Joey Logano
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Statistically Speaking

Every Point Matters

by Dan Beaver

Before the implementation of stage points, NASCAR races were becoming increasingly more like chess matches. Taking their cue from road courses, crew chiefs would work backward from the end of a race and determine when a driver should optimally mash the throttle and win.

The solution was a simple one. NASCAR needed to find a way to make the entire race matter – and so they implemented the stage points rule. Every point matters. In the era of the “win-and-in” format, they are actually even more important because the number of drivers who advance based on the standings has dwindled.

A handful of stage points earned early in the year can easily make the difference between making and missing the playoffs. That has been the rallying cry of 26 drivers this season who have already earned stage points in the first nine races.


Bonus points for stage wins are even more important and it’s why we see such increased competition at the end of each segment.

Since it is part of the race scoring, stage points have become an integral part of many fantasy contests – most notably the NASCAR Fantasy Live game – so with the Easter break upon us, it’s a good time to look back and see who has made the most of this opportunity.

Joey Logano stands head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of stage points earned and he has done so with strength and consistency. Logano’s four stage wins is second only to Kyle Busch, but Logano has finished second or third in a total of nine segments compared to Busch’s six. Equally important, Logano has scored points in every stage except one. He faded at Texas Motor Speedway and did not earn points in the second segment after winning the first stage.

Logano’s 114 points earned is 23 more than his closest competitor and in today’s scoring matrix that is the equivalent of about half a race. On average, Logano has added 12.7 points to his race totals in the first nine events of the season, making him one of the most productive points earners in nearly every game. Additionally, the four playoff points he’s earned for those stage wins combine with his five bonus points for the Pennzoil 400 victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to give him a cushion over most of the potential playoff contenders.

Busch’s five stage wins gets added to his race bonuses to give him 20 playoff points. Last year the importance of that was underscored by the ease with which the Big 3 advanced through the opening rounds of the playoffs. Unfortunately, Busch has failed to score playoff points in five segments – mostly because of ill-timed penalties. Busch was the first driver to sweep a race this year, by winning both stages and the overall at Auto Club Speedway.

Brad Keselowski showed his domination once week later at Martinsville Speedway. He was not exactly in a league of his own that weekend with Chase Elliott on his bumper for most of the race, but he was able to stay in clean air and pick his line around the track en route to a sweep of the STP 500. After winning that race, he slipped outside of the top 15 in the next two races.

Martin Truex Jr. is the driver with the most earned stage points without a victory. Last week at Richmond Raceway he nevertheless showed a dominant form by finishing third in Stage 1, second in Stage 2, and by scoring the overall win.

As fantasy owners try to determine who is stronger overall between Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing, the balance might be tipped in Penske’s favor based on stage points. Logano’s closest competitor in terms of points earned is his teammate Ryan Blaney with 91. Keselowski has the fifth-most points in the bank.

Meanwhile Gibbs’ No. 18 is third on the chart followed by Denny Hamlin in sixth and Martin Truex Jr. in seventh. The fourth member of the organization, Erik Jones is well down the order with 21 points earned.

 

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Wins

Joey Logano

114

17

4

Richmond 2

Bristol 2

Texas 1

Vegas 2 *

Ryan Blaney

91

13

2

Phoenix 1

Daytona 2

Kyle Busch

90

13

5

Richmond 1

Auto Club 1 *

Auto Club 2 *

Phoenix 2 *

Daytona 1

Kevin Harvick

84

13

2

Vegas 1

Atlanta 2

Brad Keselowski

71

10

2

Martinsville 1 *

Martinsville 2 *

Denny Hamlin

68

11

1

Texas 2 *

Martin Truex Jr.

61

10

 

 

Aric Almirola

53

8

 

 

Clint Bowyer

43

9

 

 

Chase Elliott

42

10

 

 

Daniel Suarez

39

10

 

 

Kyle Larson

29

5

1

Atlanta 1

Kurt Busch

28

7

 

 

Jimmie Johnson

26

7

 

 

Erik Jones

21

6

 

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20

5

 

 

Alex Bowman

18

3

 

 

Ryan Newman

18

3

 

 

Paul Menard

17

5

 

 

William Byron

15

3

 

 

Austin Dillon

14

4

 

 

Ty Dillon

10

1

1

Bristol 1

Chris Buescher

10

4

 

 

Matt DiBenedetto

5

1

 

 

Michael McDowell

2

1

 

 

Daniel Hemric

1

1

 

 

 

* also won the race

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.