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Statistically Speaking

Axalta 400 Stats

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

This week’s race: Axalta We Paint Winners 400
Traditional Name: Pocono 400
Other Notable Names: 5-Hour Energy 500, Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 by Target, UAW / GM Teamwork 500, Champion Spark Plug 500, Miller High Life 500, Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500, Coca-Cola 500

In NASCAR, there are a few races that could be characterized as endurance events. Pocono Raceway’s pair of show fit that criteria because of the length of the laps and the tight corners at each turn.

In practice and qualification for this week’s Axalta 400, two of NASCAR’s best drivers pushed the envelope just a little too far and spun. Tony Stewart looped his car off turn one and was forced into a backup. Denny Hamlin spun in the third and final segment of qualification with only 39 seconds remaining, but did not make contact with the wall. Sam Hornish Jr. also spun his No. 9 without contact in Friday morning’s session.

These spins show just how much mental focus is required for a NASCAR driver, especially when they hit turn one. At the end of the longest straightaway in the sport, it takes a lot of nerve to wait on one’s braking marks and then corkscrew through two more extremely flat corners with increasingly shortened straights.

10 best drivers at Pocono

Over the past six races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Ryan Newman
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 7.00
Career avg. finish: 14.7 in 27 attempts

Newman is not necessarily the first driver who comes to mind at Pocono, but he has the longest current top-10 streak of all active drivers with five. Expand the parameters and he enters the weekend with 13 consecutive top-15s, which makes him one of this week’s top picks.

2. Kyle Larson (tied with Gordon)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 8.00 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 8.0 in 3 attempts

Fantasy owners have seen this story a couple of times so far in 2015. Larson enters a weekend with a solid average finish and is expected to run well. That does not always happen, but last week’s third-place result at Dover gives players hope.

2. Jeff Gordon (tied with Larson)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 8.00
Career avg. finish: 9.9 in 44 attempts

One does not earn a better-than-10th-place average finish during a 44-race career without having some highlights along the way. Fortunately for Gordon fans, two of his six wins on this track came in the past four seasons and he has continued to be strong enough to rank second in the three-year average list.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 8.33
Career avg. finish: 15.3 in 30 attempts

One might be inclined to think that Earnhardt’s sweep of 2014’s Victory Lane is solely responsible for his being this high on the list at Pocono—and while that is somewhat true, his previous six races showcase five top-10s. He also had a 32nd in 2012 that was caused by a transmission problem.

5. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 9.67
Career avg. finish: 14.2 in 18 attempts

Bowyer’s position among the top five this week is accounted for by consistency. In the past six races he has only one top-five, but he has swept the top 15 and the average is good enough to make him fantasy relevant for the second straight week.

6. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Dover: 11.20 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 14.7 in 27 attempts

On Friday, Busch earned his second pole and seventh front row starting spot at Pocono. That has been a great omen for him in the past as he has earned five top-three finishes—including both of his wins—after doing so.

7. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 11.50
Career avg. finish: 13.4 in 11 attempts

Keselowski has three finishes outside the top 15 in his most recent six Pocono attempts, which means that his other three efforts have been stellar enough to place him in the top 10. He narrowly missed adding another trophy to his mantel last year in the Pocono 400 with a second-place result.

8. Tony Stewart
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 11.8 in 32 attempts

At some point during the season it is likely that Stewart’s fate will change and then his position among the top-10, three-year average finishes will be more than a nod to history. That probably will not happen this week, however, and he should be left in the garage.

9. Kevin Harvick (tied with Biffle)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.00
Career avg. finish: 13.6 in 28 attempts

Fans would much rather focus on Harvick’s 2015 record than pay any attention to his track numbers, but it pays to balance the two. His consistency during the past half-decade has been remarkable with a worst result of 17th and an average of about 10th.

9. Greg Biffle (tied with Harvick)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.00
Career avg. finish: 15.9 in 24 attempts

Coming off a second-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway more was expected of Biffle at Dover than his 17th-place finish, but he failed to perform up to top-10 standards. He has another chance to impress because he earned three top-10s in the past four races on this triangular oddity.

Others of Note

11. Jamie McMurray
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.17
Career avg. finish: 19.8 in 24 attempts

There are several points’ contenders hovering just outside the top-10 mark in terms of three-year average finishes and perhaps the most likely of these to move up before August is McMurray. He swept the top 10 last year at Pocono and is coming off a strong Dover run.

12. Joey Logano
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.33
Career avg. finish: 16.6 in 12 attempts

Logano had a dominant car in 2012 during his last season with Joe Gibbs Racing and he won the June event from the pole on the newly repaved Pocono Raceway. He would be much higher on the list if not for a blown engine in this race last June.

13. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.83
Career avg. finish: 9.9 in 26 attempts

As strong as Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports has been on this track in the past, the No. 48 has faltered on a few occasions in the past three year with three results outside the top 10. At least he padded his 2015 victory advantage last week with a fourth win—his 10th trophy from that track.

16. Martin Truex Jr.
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 17.00
Career avg. finish: 15.9 in 18 attempts

Pocono has not traditionally been one of Truex’s better tracks despite its proximity to his home state of New Jersey. Fantasy owners can forget about his historic records and ride his current momentum, however.

18. Kasey Kahne
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 20.00
Career avg. finish: 17.8 in 22 attempts

In his last six attempts Kahne has a victory, a second-, and a 10th-place finish, which gives fantasy owners an idea of how bad his other three results were. In the last three Pocono 400s he has crashed and failed to finish twice and broken a transmission once.
 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr Avg Finish

Attempts

1.

Ryan Newman

7.00

6

2.

Kyle Larson

8.00

2

2.

Jeff Gordon

8.00

6

4.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

8.33

6

5.

Clint Bowyer

9.67

6

6.

Kurt Busch

11.20

5

7.

Brad Keselowski

11.50

6

8.

Tony Stewart

11.67

6

9.

Kevin Harvick

12.00

6

9.

Greg Biffle

12.00

6

 

11.

Jamie McMurray

12.17

6

12.

Joey Logano

12.33

6

13.

Jimmie Johnson

12.83

6

14.

Austin Dillon

16.00

2

15.

Denny Hamlin

16.33

6

16.

Martin Truex Jr.

17.00

6

17.

Carl Edwards

19.50

6

18.

Kasey Kahne

20.00

6

19.

Michael Annett

21.00

2

20.

Justin Allgaier

21.50

2

21.

Kyle Busch

21.83

6

22.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

23.25

4

23.

Matt Kenseth

23.33

6

24.

Paul Menard

23.50

6

25.

Aric Almirola

24.00

6

26.

David Ragan

25.00

6

27.

Casey Mears

25.17

6

27.

Travis Kvapil

25.17

6

29.

David Gilliland

25.33

6

30.

Cole Whitt

25.50

2

31.

AJ Allmendinger

30.40

5

32.

Alex Bowman

31.00

2

33.

Danica Patrick

32.75

4

34.

Landon Cassill

35.00

6

35.

Josh Wise

35.50

6

36.

JJ Yeley

35.60

5

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 13 (2 times), 2005 Pennsylvania 500, 1990 Miller Genuine Draft 500
Fewest caution flags: 1, 1978 Coca-Cola 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 6.5

Final Caution, last five races:
August 2014: Lap 154 of 160 – one- car accident in turn two (Kurt Busch)
June 2014: Lap 144 of 160 – three-car accident in turn two (Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards)
August 2013: Lap 157 of 158 – one-car accident in turn two (Matt Kenseth)
June 2013: Lap 155 of 160 – one-car accident in turn three (Dave Blaney)
August 2012: Lap 92 of 98 – five-car accident in turn one (Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson)

Most caution laps: 57, 2004 Pocono 500
Fewest caution laps: 3, 1978 Coca-Cola 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 31.0

Leading the way

Most leaders: 24, 1989 AC Spark Plug 500
Fewest leaders: 4 (3 times), 2013 Party in the Poconos 400 presented by Walmart, 1985 Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500, 1978 Coca-Cola 500
Average number of leaders: 10.6

Most lead changes: 56, 1979 Coca-Cola 500
Fewest lead changes: 10, 1998 Pennsylvania 500
Average number of lead changes: 24.3

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Pocono (starting position):
August 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (9)
June 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8)
August 2013: Kasey Kahne (18)
June 2013: Jimmie Johnson (1)
August 2012: Jeff Gordon (27)

Worst starting position for race winner: Carl Edwards (29th) 2005 Pocono 500

A race at Pocono has been won by the pole sitter 15 times and from the front row 24 times in 74 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
June 2013: Jimmie Johnson, Party in the Poconos 400 presented by Walmart (set by NASCAR rule book)
June 2012: Joey Logano, Pocono 400 by #NASCAR
June 2009: Tony Stewart, Pocono 500 (set by NASCAR’s rule book)
June 2008: Kasey Kahne, Pocono 500
July 2006: Denny Hamlin, Pennsylvania 500
June 2006: Denny Hamlin, Pocono 500
July 2003: Ryan Newman, Pennsylvania 500
July 2002: Bill Elliott, Pennsylvania 500 by Pep Boys
June 2001: Ricky Rudd, Pocono 500

Active winners at Dover
Jeff Gordon: 6
Denny Hamlin: 4
Jimmie Johnson:            3
Kurt Busch: 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 2
Carl Edwards: 2
Kasey Kahne: 2
Tony Stewart: 2
Greg Biffle: 1
Brad Keselowski: 1
Joey Logano: 1
Ryan Newman: 1

Top-10 All-time Winners:
Jeff Gordon: 6
Bill Elliott: 5
Denny Hamlin: 4
Tim Richmond: 4
Rusty Wallace: 4
Darrell Waltrip: 4
Bobby Allison: 3
Geoff Bodine: 3
Dale Jarrett: 3
Jimmie Johnson: 3
Bobby Labonte: 3

First time winners at Pocono:
Denny Hamlin: 2006 Pocono 500
Jeremy Mayfield: 1998 Pocono 500

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Pocono race they started:
Clint Bowyer (18)
Martin Truex Jr. (18)
David Ragan (16)
Travis Kvapil (15)
Brad Keselowski (10)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (4)
Justin Allgaier (2)
Michael Annett (2)
Alex Bowman (2)
Austin Dillon (2)
Kyle Larson (2)
Cole Whitt (2)

Matt Kenseth had been running at the end of all 29 Pocono races he started until he crashed on lap 116 last August.
Jimmie Johnson had been running at the end of all 25 Pocono races he started until he crashed on lap 111 last August.
Aric Almirola had been running at the end of all five Pocono races he started until he crashed on lap 125 last August.
Sam Hornish Jr. crashed out of his first attempt in 2008, but he has been running at the end of his last seven attempts.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Denny Hamlin: 1 (both 2006 races)
Carl Edwards: 1 (2005)
Jimmie Johnson: 3 (2002)
Kyle Busch: 4 (2005)
Kyle Larson: 5 (2014)
Tony Stewart: 6 (1999)

Current Streaks

At Pocono
Ryan Newman, five top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., four top-fives
Jeff Gordon, three top-10s
Denny Hamlin, two top-10s
Jamie McMurray, two top-10s

On flat tracks
Joey Logano, nine top-10s
Jeff Gordon, five top-10s
Kevin Harvick, four top-10s
Jamie McMurray, three top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., three top-10s
Matt Kenseth, two top-10s

In 2015
Kevin Harvick, five top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., five top-10s

 

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.