Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Road Warriors

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Throughout the season, there are wild card races. The four events on the restrictor-plate superspeedways count – as do the bullrings of Martinsville Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. So to, do the road courses.

As one of the specialty races, the Toyota / Save Mart 350k at Sonoma Raceway could provide a unique winner. Ten drivers among the less than 40 entered next week have won on the twisty tracks during their careers and only one active racer has more than two victories. Another seven drivers have scored a top-five without yet visiting Victory Lane and that means nearly 45 percent of the field has been in a position to win.

Three active drivers have multiple road course wins and it is not going to take a crystal ball to figure out exactly who they are.

Kyle Busch is the winningest active driver on this course type with four victories. The most recent of these came in the 2015 Toyota 350k. Later that year, he finished second at Watkins Glen International – and while he has not scored a win since, his last four efforts landed in a narrow band of fifth through seventh.

Kevin Harvick was last year’s winner of the Toyota 350k, which is one of two road course victories for the most dominant driver of 2018. The other came back in 2006 at the Glen. Harvick also has a majority of success in the past several seasons with three top-fives and two more top-10s in his last seven attempts on road courses. His last three attempts at Sonoma all ended in results of sixth or better.

Last year’s winner at the Glen is the other active driver with multiple victories. Martin Truex Jr. proved to be an all-around threat with his win in the I Love New York 355k at the Glen, but among the Big Three, he has the least current momentum with only three top-10s in his last eight efforts on twisty tracks. By comparison, he has finished outside the top 20 three times during that span.

Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, and Kasey Kahne round out the list of winners.

Stewart-Haas Racing Busch and Bowyer may well be the biggest threats to add a second win based on the number of top-fives they have recorded on this track type.

Busch has scored 10 top-10s in 34 starts (about 29% of the time). The latest of these came three years ago with a runner-up finish at Sonoma in the spring and a fifth at the Glen in the summer of 2015, but he has not finished worse than 11th in his last four starts.

Bowyer has nine career top-fives to his credit – two of which came in a sweep of that position on the road courses last year. Better still, he is coming off the rain-shortened win last week at Michigan International Speedway. He finished second to his teammate Harvick in this race last year and could easily come out on top in the Toyota 350k.

The driver finishing third in last year’s Sonoma race is the man with the best chance to get his first career road course win. Brad Keselowski has finished among the top five on five occasions on this track type without quite being able to find Victory Lane. That third-place finish at Sonoma came on the heels of another at the Glen in 2016. One reason to consider him a strong dark horse contender to get his first road win is because the other three top-fives on the track type were runner-up finishes in consecutive years (2011-2013) at the Glen.

 

Road Course Success

Driver

Wins

Top-5s

Top-10s

Kyle Busch

4

8

16

Kevin Harvick

2

8

16

Martin Truex Jr./p>

2

6

10

Kurt Busch

1

10

17

Clint Bowyer

1

9

14

Jimmie Johnson

1

8

17

Denny Hamlin

1

6

10

Joey Logano

1

5

9

AJ Allmendinger

1

3

8

Kasey Kahne

1

2

6

Brad Keselowski

 

5

7

Jamie McMurray

 

3

6

Ryan Newman

 

2

10

Matt Kenseth

 

2

9

Kyle Larson

 

1

1

Paul Menard

 

1

1

Daniel Suarez

 

1

1

Ryan Blaney

 

 

2

Trevor Bayne

 

 

1

Chase Elliott

 

 

1

Erik Jones

 

 

1

 



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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