Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: 1000Bulbs.com 500

Saturday, October 13, 2018


For the first time since April 2011, a team swept the first four spots in qualification. Stewart-Haas Racing placed all four of their drivers on the first two rows. Hendrick Motorsports placed their drivers on rows three and four. Joe Gibbs Racing rounded out the top 10 with both drivers on the fifth row.

Very little is predictive on a plate track, but occasionally the accumulation of speed signals strength – especially when it is concentrated among a team.

Practice

Practice doesn’t matter much on a plate track, but since they do it, we report it. In a drafting pack Kevin Harvick posted the fastest single lap of 204.227 mph. His teammate Aric Almirola was second best with a 203.957 mph trip around the track.

Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top five to give Ford a sweep of those spots. Ford has been dominant on plate track recently, so there is a chance this stat will be meaningful.

Chevrolet was represented with the sixth and seventh fastest times belonging to the Dillon brothers. Ty Dillon posted a lap of 202.354 mph; Austin Dillon posted a lap of 202.200 mph.

Erik Jones wheeled the fastest Toyota at 202.081 mph.

Further back in the field, Team Penske also qualified nose to tail with Brad Keselowski starting 18th, Ryan Blaney 19th, and Joey Logano 20th.

In terms of quickest 10-lap averages, Almirola and Harvick topped that chart as well.

Qualification

Kurt Busch blistered the field with a lap of 195.804 mph that was .126 seconds faster than Bowyer’s 195.301 mph lap. Harvick and Almirola round out the first two rows in a show of solidarity and speed.

The last time the front two rows were swept by a single organization, it was Hendrick Motorsports with Jeff Gordon on the pole followed by Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

That is notable this week, because rows three and four will be made up of Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Chase Elliott posted the fifth fastest lap, with Johnson, Alex Bowman, and William Byron lined up behind him.

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin occupy row five for Joe Gibbs Racing with their affiliated teammate Martin Truex Jr. qualified 11th. Daniel Suarez is one row back in 13th.

It is an interesting anomaly of the sport that two complete organizations make up the front two rows, but as with most stats on a plate tracks, it won’t mean much when race time rolls around. The teammates may be able to form a drafting pack that lasts about halfway through Stage 1, but it won’t last much longer as the field shuffles and churns.

Winning the pole has been a decent sign of strength at Talladega recently, however. The last three pole winners went on to finish among the top 10. Stenhouse won last spring’s race on this track, Earnhardt finished seventh in this race last year, while Harvick finished fourth this spring.

Kyle Larson was the slowest among the playoff contenders with a speed of 188.731 mph that landed him 34th on the grid. He was forced to make an adjustment to his car, however, and will start the field from the rear. The team is going to spend a sleepless night worrying about how to find a little more speed. 



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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