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Ryan Blaney
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Statistically Speaking

Average Running Position through Week 4

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: March 18, 2020, 1:46 pm ET

One day after saying they would run Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance, NASCAR changed their minds and sent everyone home. Due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and guidelines from the government to socially distance from one another, NASCAR opted to postpone the next two races with the option to come back in time for Texas or to extend the ban week-by-week.

This unexpected break in the action gives fantasy players a chance to assess their plan so far and alter it for the future.

One of the most powerful statistics in determining strength is the Average Running Position. Often this stat dovetails with a driver’s average finish; sometimes it does not. But even relatively minor fluctuations can tell a powerful tale.


Ryan Blaney has been one of the strongest drivers every week, but he has not had the finishing results to show for his effort. Until he was ridden into the wall at Phoenix, however, he was able to hang onto the points lead because of how well he ran in the first two segments of the race. That allowed him to add significant points to his total.

Segment Points are an important snapshot, but Average Running is a much wider view of the race.

Blaney had the second-best average position in the first two unrestricted races. He posted a 3.78 at Las Vegas and a 2.92 at Auto Club. His contact with Denny Hamlin at Phoenix lowered his Average Running Position to 12.51, which is ninth on the chart, but his average finish of 17.25 is only 17th. He obviously needs to be considered a major threat each week even though he has not yet won and has not earned a top-10 on an unrestricted track.

Martin Truex Jr.’s fate has been even more dramatic. With an Average Running Position of 12.56 he ranks 10th on that chart through Week 4. His average race finish is only 24.50, however, which is 11th worst (or 28th out of 38 drivers with three or more starts).

Truex has had a top-10 capable car every week. He posted the sixth-best Average Running Position at Las Vegas (before finishing 20th), was eighth-best at Auto Club (finished 14th), and eighth-best at Phoenix (32nd). He has been unable to avoid trouble, however, and accidents at Daytona and Phoenix have him fighting to be in playoff contention.

The Average Running Position also tells us when a driver is dominant. There was no uncertainly when Alex Bowman won the Auto Club 400 because his average position for the race was 1.76. Bowman was in contention for both stage wins as well.

In that same race, Blaney has an average position of 2.92 before finishing 19th, which underscores the need to pay attention to all of the data at one’s disposal.

Kevin Harvick has the second-best Average Running Position in a race so far with a 2.60 in the FanShield 500k at Phoenix. He finished second to Joey Logano because he lost track position late in the race, but his time at the front of the field still made him one of the best fantasy values on the short, flat track.

Logano has run consistently well and was the first driver to post two wins. He tops NASCAR Statistical Services’ average running chart through Week 4 with an average place of 7.43. This is in no small part because of how he performed in the Daytona 500. Before becoming one of the myriad drivers sidelined by an accident, he posted an average position of 9.02, which was the best in the field.

Logano’s pair of wins came after scoring the third-best running position of 4.24 at Las Vegas and the second best of 6.03 at Phoenix.

Chase Elliott has had a top-five capable car each week. He scored the fourth-best running position in each of the first four weeks. At Phoenix, in the most recent event, he landed fifth on the chart, but all of that combines for the second-best average for the season-to-date. His 8.47 is within sight of Logano’s 8.47.

Harvick (9.03), Brad Keselowski (9.13), and Bowman (9.16) round out the top five.

 

Rank

Driver

Average Place

 

1.

Joey Logano

7.433

2.

Chase Elliott

8.472

3.

Kevin Harvick

9.029

4.

Brad Keselowski

9.125

5.

Alex Bowman

9.163

6.

Jimmie Johnson

9.923

7.

Kyle Busch

11.457

8.

Aric Almirola

12.400

9.

Ryan Blaney

12.513

10.

Martin Truex Jr.

12.562

 

11.

Matt DiBenedetto

13.402

12.

Kurt Busch

14.152

13.

Tyler Reddick

16.069

14.

Kyle Larson

16.396

15.

William Byron

16.699

16.

Denny Hamlin

16.990

17.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.204

18.

Ross Chastain

17.384

19.

Chris Buescher

17.593

20.

Clint Bowyer

18.026

 

21.

Erik Jones

18.210

22.

Austin Dillon

19.665

23.

Ty Dillon

20.262

24.

Cole Custer

21.388

25.

JH Nemechek

22.017

26.

Ryan Preece

23.735

27.

Christopher Bell

24.647

28.

Bubba Wallace

25.454

29.

Corey LaJoie

26.012

30.

Michael McDowell

26.458

 

31.

Daniel Suarez

28.839

32.

JJ Yeley

29.671

33.

Brennan Poole

31.451

34.

Reed Sorenson

33.207

35.

Joey Gase

33.309

36.

Quin Houff

33.716

37.

Timmy Hill

34.384

38.

Garrett Smithley

35.668

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.