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Joey Logano
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Statistically Speaking

Staying Up Front

by Dan Beaver

Earlier this year, we took a look at NASCAR’s Driver Rating and how it helps reveal strength during a race. This week, it’s time to look at drivers’ Average Running Positions to see who has had the most dominant performances.

One of the reasons this is so important is because it helps suggest which drivers will earn the most Segment Points – a critical metric in NASCAR.com Fantasy Live game. As noted previously, Joey Logano has scored the most Stage Points so far this year and it will come as no surprise that he is featured in the editorial below.

Since fantasy players should be most concerned with recent performances, we are looking back at the last 45 days – of the span of races from the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway through last week’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.


Martin Truex Jr. tops the charts with an impressive 2.31 in a race that he won at Richmond Raceway. Considering that this race was made up of 400 laps, that was an incredible performance and it was aided by the fact that he qualified fifth and led 186 laps on his way to Victory Lane – including the last 79 laps of the event.

Leading laps is not always a guarantee of having the best Average Running Position, however; Kyle Busch led 101 laps in that same race and finished in the top 10, but after getting sent to the back of the pack during the show, he had only the sixth-best ranking on this chart that week with an average of 7.24.

Truex makes the chart a second time with his Average Running Position of 6.87 in the Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway – which was another race that he won. In this event, however, he was sent to the back of the pack after failing post-qualification inspection.

The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond was a two-man affair. Logano admitted that he did not have enough for Truex throughout the event, but it is apparent that he was clearly best in class with an Average Running Position of 2.49. He led 52 laps in that race, which was third-most behind Truex and Busch.

One week earlier, Logano had the best performance at Bristol Motor Speedway even though he came up two positions short of winning. Leading 146 laps – just a smidge fewer than his teammate Ryan Blaney’s 158 – he seemed to have the right strategy in the closing laps. He battled his other Penske mate Brad Keselowski hard with 30 laps remaining and took the lead, but succumbed to Busch after holding the advantage for 12 circuits around the course.

For his Bristol performance, Blaney had the second-best Average Running Position and settled into fourth at the end.

Dover was one of those races were fantasy player needed to pay attention to more than just the finishing order. Chase Elliott was coming off his Talladega Superspeedway victory with a lot of momentum and that helped him record the pole and lead the first 107 laps of the race. He lost the handle as the race progressed, but not by much and recorded the best Average Running Position of 3.19 on his way to a fifth-place finish.

With momentum on his side, Elliott recorded a 6.19 last week at Kansas and had a legitimate shot at winning the Digital Ally 400. His current three-race, top-five streak is buoyed by these strong performances and fantasy players cannot discount the importance of a great attitude when drivers roll off the hauler.

Average Running Position can also underscore a driver’s rapid improvement. Alex Bowman joined the Fantasy Power Rankings Top 10 this week and that was not only because of his three runner-up finishes. At Talladega, he artfully avoided trouble and challenged for the win, but he really came into his own in the last two events with Average Running Positions in the sixth- to seventh-place range at Dover and Kansas.

On occasion, the Average Running Position acts a little like a consolation prize.

Brad Keselowski ran well in the Food City 500 for most of the race, but he fell off dramatically in the final stage and lost a lap to before finishing 18th. His average of 6.49 was better than the race winner’s 6.77, but obviously Busch had the better overall strategy.

Last week, the same thing was true for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He had a remarkable performance that was not rewarded with a strong finish, but if the No. 17 team has a little better luck and makes better calls at Kansas this spring, his Average Running Position of 5.96 could be a predictor of good things to come.

 

25-Best Average Running Positions
(Last 45 Days)

Driver

Average
Running
Position

Finish

Race

Martin Truex Jr. (1)

2.31

1

Toyota Owners 400 (Best at Richmond)

Joey Logano (1)

2.49

2

Toyota Owners 400

Joey Logano (2)

2.60

3

Food City 500 (Best at Bristol)

Ryan Blaney

3.11

4

Food City 500

Chase Elliott (1)

3.19

5

Gander 400 (Best at Dover)

Kevin Harvick (1)

3.97

4

Toyota Owners 400

Kevin Harvick (2)

3.97

4

Gander 400

Kyle Larson

4.51

3

Gander 400

Clint Bowyer (2)

5.08

3

Toyota Owners 400

Brad Keselowski (2)

5.43

7

Toyota Owners 400

Clint Bowyer (1)

5.85

7

Food City 500

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

5.96

11

Digital Ally 400 (Best at Kansas)

Alex Bowman (2)

6.00

2

Digital Ally 400

Chase Elliott (2)

6.19

4

Digital Ally 400

Brad Keselowski (1)

6.49

18

Food City 500

Kyle Busch (2)

6.77

1

Food City 500

Alex Bowman (1)

6.81

2

Gander 400

Martin Truex Jr. (2)

6.87

1

Gander 400

Brad Keselowski (3)

6.94

12

Gander 400

Kyle Busch (3)

7.24

8

Toyota Owners 400

Kyle Busch (1)

7.27

10

O'Reilly 500 (Best at Texas)

Clint Bowyer (3)

7.45

5

Digital Ally 400

Kurt Busch

7.45

11

Toyota Owners 400

Erik Jones

7.49

3

Digital Ally 400

Joey Logano (3)

7.59

4

Geico 500 (Best at Talladega)

 

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.