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Statistically Speaking

Green Flag Speed Through Week 4

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: April 8, 2020, 7:02 pm ET

On most tracks, there is no substitute for speed.

Speed comes as the combination of two factors: horsepower and mechanical grip. But make no mistake, a driver cannot win on an unrestricted oval without it.

In the first four races of 2020, two teams have risen above the rest. Led by Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports has placed all four of their drivers inside the top 10 in terms of average ranking. Team Penske has all three of their drivers in the top five.

There is a reason we continue to highly tout Elliott despite his average finish of 12.33 on unrestricted tracks. He’s run well in every race. Fantasy players occasionally have to shrug aside a driver’s bad luck.


Elliott has not yet earned the distinction of recording the fastest Green Flag Speed average in a single race, but he has not been outside the top-five in the first three unrestricted races.*

Elliott had the second-fastest green flag average at Phoenix, which suggests that he had an incredible setup that allowed him to apply the horsepower to the pavement. He was third-fastest at Auto Club and fourth at Vegas, which points to straight up power under the hood.

Alex Bowman had the fastest Green Flag Speed at Auto Club in route to his dominant victory in the 400-miler. He was sixth-fastest at Las Vegas to further underscore the engine builder’s prowess, but when it came time to tackle the short, flat track of Phoenix, he was lacking and posted only the 17th-fastest average. With an average rank of 8.00 in this category, he lands seventh overall.

Considering Chevrolet’s struggles from last year, this is a huge change of fortune.

Jimmie Johnson and William Byron have similar records. Both of them ran well at Vegas and both struggled relatively at Phoenix. Byron had the second-fastest car at Vegas, but trouble late in the race relegated him to 22nd.

Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are tied for second in terms of average ranking of Green Flag Speed.

For Logano, this stat has been important in underscoring his weekly performance.

Both of the races he won came after he posted one of the five-fastest averages. He was third on this chart at Vegas and fourth at Phoenix. When he struggled at Auto Club, it was because he posted only the 12th-fastest speed. He finished 12th in that race as well.

Keselowski has been far more consistent. All three of his unrestricted attempts landed in the top-10. In these races, he’s finished between fifth and 11th. But while the numbers closely align, it is not as if strategy has not played a role. Keselowski has been caught off sequence a time or two so far this year and that has mired him in traffic where it is difficult to post consistently fast laps.

Ryan Blaney is fifth on the chart, but he should be much higher. If not for an accident early in the FanShield 500k, he would likely have a perfect record of top-five rankings and challenge Elliott for dominance in this field. Blaney’s speed was undeniable at Vegas and Auto Club. On the 1.5-mile track, he topped the chart with an average Green Flag Speed of 173.997 mph. On the 2-miler, he was second-best with a 172.500 mph average.

Sitting fourth on the chart, Harvick is the best among the remaining teams. His average ranking got a big boost with a chart-topping 130.432 mph average at Phoenix. He was highly valued in that race, of course, and this should come as no surprise. Harvick was fifth-fastest overall at Vegas. Again: not much of a surprise. His relatively slow effort at Auto Club where he landed 14th is a little more shocking and one of the reasons we will be watching him closely when the series returns to action.

Harvick’s teammate Aric Almirola is also ranked among the top 10 in early Green Flag Speed.

Two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers make the list as well with Martin Truex Jr. tying Blaney for fifth on the chart and Kyle Busch ranking eighth overall. More was expected from this organization in the first three unrestricted races, and one should wait for the series to return to action before making any big pronouncements.

* For the purposes of handicapping, we do not regard plate tracks because speed is a function of the draft on those courses.

 

Season to Date: Green Flag Speed (non-plate)

Rank

Driver

Avg. Rank

Avg. Fin.

Starts

1.

Chase Elliott

3.00

12.33

3

2.

Joey Logano

6.33

4.67

3

2.

Brad Keselowski

6.33

7.67

3

4.

Kevin Harvick

6.67

6.33

3

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

7.33

22.00

3

5.

Ryan Blaney

7.33

22.33

3

7.

Alex Bowman

8.00

9.33

3

8.

Kyle Busch

8.33

6.67

3

9.

Jimmie Johnson

9.33

8.00

3

10.

William Byron

10.00

15.67

3

10.

Aric Almirola

10.00

12.33

3

 

12.

Kurt Busch

10.33

11.33

3

13.

Matt DiBenedetto

12.00

9.33

3

14.

Tyler Reddick

13.67

20.67

3

15.

Kyle Larson

14.33

11.33

3

16.

Erik Jones

16.33

20.33

3

17.

Clint Bowyer

16.67

13.33

3

18.

Austin Dillon

17.00

21.33

3

19.

Ross Chastain

17.67

22.33

3

20.

Chris Buescher

19.33

15.67

3

21.

Denny Hamlin

20.00

14.33

3

22.

Cole Custer

21.00

15.33

3

23.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

23.67

15.00

3

24.

JH Nemechek

24.33

24.67

3

25.

Bubba Wallace

25.00

17.33

3

26.

Ryan Preece

25.33

28.33

3

26.

Christopher Bell

25.33

31.67

3

28.

Ty Dillon

26.33

17.00

3

29.

Michael McDowell

26.67

24.67

3

30.

Corey LaJoie

28.67

24.00

3

31.

Daniel Suarez

31.33

26.33

3

32.

Brennan Poole

31.67

30.67

3

32.

JJ Yeley

31.67

28.33

3

34.

Joey Gase

34.33

31.00

3

35.

Quin Houff

35.00

33.67

3

36.

Reed Sorenson

36.33

33.33

3

37.

Garrett Smithley

36.67

34.67

3

38.

Timmy Hill

37.67

37.67

3

 

2020 Stats through Week 4

Fastest Laps
Driver Rating
Streaking in 2020
The Big 3
Segment Points
Average Running Position

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.