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Statistically Speaking

Short Tracks

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Most of today’s NASCAR drivers cut their teeth on bullrings of one form or another. Whether they were dirt track superstars like Kyle Larson or paved track racers like Denny Hamlin, regularly running tracks less than a mile in length was part of their training.

Logic would presume that all of the drivers in the field should be competitive on the short tracks—and to a slight degree that is true and one reason these are considered driver’s courses. But there is also a big difference between competing again 42 other cars with horsepower far exceeding anything they have ever seen. Racing in that type of traffic takes nerves of steel and a willingness to put oneself in harm’s way.

No one swept the top 10 on short tracks last year, but one has to wonder what might have happened if Kyle Busch had not missed the first 11 races. His first attempt on a track less than a mile in length at the Cup level in 2015 came at Bristol Motor Speedway in August and he kicked off with an eighth-place finish. He was second to Matt Kenseth in the Federated 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and he finished fifth in Martinsville Speedway’s second race.

The driver with the second-best average finish on short tracks might come as a bit of a surprise to fantasy owners. Jamie McMurray posted only three top-10s in six races on this track type, but he was never outside of the top 15 and came within a position of winning the Goody's 500. The retiring Jeff Gordon took the trophy that afternoon, so McMurray can be credited with being “best in show” and should make his way onto quite a few short track rosters in 2016.

Denny Hamlin has long been known as a short, flat track master but his prowess has been called into question a couple of times in the past few years. Normally strongest on both Virginia flat tracks, he is one of the most popular picks at both Martinsville and Richmond and he lived up to those expectations in the STP 500 on the paperclip. He was not quite as strong at Richmond later in the spring with a 22nd, but he rebounded to sweep the top 10—with a worst result of sixth—in his final three races of the season.

Jimmie Johnson probably would have joined McMurray and swept the top 15 if not for an accident at Martinsville in the spring. Crash damage in that race dropped him more than 30 laps off the pace and relegated him to a 35th-place result. Last fall, he also finished in the 30s. His next four races on this track type ended in top-10s and it is notable that his worst fall result came at Martinsville again with a 12th-place finish.

Kevin Harvick rounds out the top five in regard to average results on short tracks and he too almost swept the top 15. His one bad result came at Bristol in the spring, but he made up for that with runner-up finishes at Richmond in their first race and Bristol in the fall. 

 

Short Tracks (less than one-mile in length)

Rank

Driver

Average

Martinsville 2

Richmond 2

Bristol 2

Richmond 1

Bristol 1

Martinsville 1

1.

Kyle Busch

5.00

5

2

8

 

 

 

2.

Jamie McMurray

9.00

2

13

11

4

14

10

3.

Denny Hamlin

10.17

3

6

3

22

26

1

4.

Jimmie Johnson

10.83

12

9

4

3

2

35

5.

Kevin Harvick

12.00

8

14

2

2

38

8

6.

Ryan Newman

13.33

7

20

10

11

5

27

7.

Aric Almirola

13.67

16

4

17

20

13

12

8.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

14.00

4

5

9

14

16

36

9.

Joey Logano

14.83

37

3

1

5

40

3

10.

Clint Bowyer

15.33

43

10

5

9

12

13

10.

Carl Edwards

15.33

14

11

7

19

24

17

12.

Matt Kenseth

15.50

38

1

42

7

1

4

12.

Kurt Busch

15.50

34

15

14

1

15

14

14.

Kasey Kahne

16.17

9

18

16

6

37

11

15.

Brad Keselowski

16.67

32

8

6

17

35

2

16.

Kyle Larson

18.20

19

12

41

12

7

 

17.

Martin Truex Jr.

18.50

6

32

28

10

29

6

18.

Paul Menard

19.00

15

26

24

15

11

23

19.

Justin Allgaier

19.67

13

25

12

18

8

42

20.

Tony Stewart

20.83

10

29

19

41

6

20

21.

Danica Patrick

21.17

40

19

27

25

9

7

22.

Ryan Blaney

22.00

 

 

22

 

 

 

22.

Brian Scott

22.00

 

22

 

 

 

 

24.

Austin Dillon

22.67

18

27

13

27

10

41

25.

Trevor Bayne

23.17

31

23

15

24

28

18

26.

Casey Mears

23.67

17

21

23

30

36

15

27.

Chris Buescher

24.50

 

 

 

 

25

24

28.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24.67

39

16

21

28

4

40

29.

AJ Allmendinger

25.17

11

24

26

13

34

43

29.

David Ragan

25.17

25

17

40

23

41

5

31.

Greg Biffle

25.33

26

31

25

21

30

19

32.

Sam Hornish Jr.

26.67

28

28

18

35

19

32

33.

Chase Elliott

27.00

 

 

 

16

 

38

34.

David Gilliland

27.83

24

33

36

31

18

25

35.

Cole Whitt

28.67

20

38

29

36

27

22

36.

Brett Moffitt

29.00

35

35

30

29

17

28

37.

Landon Cassill

29.83

21

30

38

26

43

21

38.

Alex Bowman

30.00

22

37

32

32

20

37

39.

JJ Yeley

31.00

29

34

34

 

32

26

40.

Matt DiBenedetto

31.33

30

36

33

37

21

31

41.

Michael McDowell

31.67

 

42

31

 

22

 

42.

Michael Annett

34.00

23

43

43

33

23

39

42.

Mike Bliss

34.00

 

 

37

 

31

34

44.

Alex Kennedy

34.50

33

 

 

39

33

33

45.

Jeb Burton

36.67

27

39

45 (DNQ)

38

42

29

46.

Josh Wise

38.00

 

44 (DNQ)

35

42

39

30

47.

Jeffrey Earnhardt

40.00

 

40

 

 

 

 

47.

Timmy Hill

40.00

36

45 (DNQ)

39

 

 

 

49.

Reed Sorenson

40.33

 

41

46 (DNQ)

34

 

 

50.

Kyle Fowler

41.00

41

 

 

 

 

 

51.

Ryan Preece

42.00

42

 

 

 

 

 

52.

Joey Gase

43.00

 

 

 

43

 

 

53.

Travis Kvapil

44.00

 

 

44 (DNQ)

 

 

 

 

 

Two-mile Tracks 
Flat Tracks 

 

Dan Beaver
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.