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Statistically Speaking

Overton’s 400 Stats

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

This week’s race: Overton’s 400
Traditional Name: Pennsylvania 400 
Other Notable Names: Windows 10 400, Purolator 500, Miller Genuine Draft 500, AC Spark Plug 500

Flat tracks are typically quite predictable. One would not know that by last week’s slugfest at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it often pays the most dividends to play the long game. Often, when one race is as chaotic as the Brickyard 400, the next event on the schedule is calm by comparison.

If that is true this week, the top 10 listed below should heavily influence fantasy players’ rosters. When favorites dominate the top 10, one has to look much deeper in the field for dark horses. And it is notable that the last two events on the calendar have been won by first timers with Chris Buescher taking the checkers in a rain- and fog-shortened race last summer and Ryan Blaney dominating the closing laps this spring.

10 best drivers at Pocono

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

1. Ryan Blaney
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 7.33 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 7.3 in 3 attempts

Blaney’s victory this spring certainly accounts for his honor of being the driver with the best average finish during the past three years, but he would be in the top 10 with any decent run in that race. In three attempts so far at Pocono during his career, he has never finished worse than 11th and that is likely to continue to be true after this weekend.

2. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 8.67
Career avg. finish: 10.9 in 15 attempts

It was a busy week at Team Penske with the announcement of Keselowski’s and Blaney’s new contracts. Both of them should run well this week and be one another’s top rivals to win based on that added boost of confidence and their record on this track. Kez enters with four consecutive top-fives to his credit including a pair of runner-up finishes.

3. Kyle Larson
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 9.17
Career avg. finish: 8.6 in 7 attempts

Larson combines strength and consistency at Pocono. He has only one top-five, but has never finished worse than 12th in seven previous attempts. He needs a good run simply to reestablish the No. 42 team as a frontrunner and if he can keep from overdriving this weekend, he should challenge for the win.

4. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 10.17
Career avg. finish: 13.3 in 33 attempts

If not for a blown engine in summer 2015, Harvick would likely be in the top spot. He has three runner-up finishes, a fourth, and a ninth in the last six races. The most incredible of these came this summer when he managed to keep his transmission intact despite missing a shift in the middle of the Axalta 400.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 11.20 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.1 in 34 attempts

Like Harvick, Earnhardt’s numbers are skewed by one bad finish. He broke his engine this summer after missing a shift in the race and retired in 38th. Four of his remaining five races in the past three years have been top-fives; two of these were victories. Pocono is his best chance to win before the playoffs begin.

6. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 14.2 in 32 attempts

Busch found Victory Lane in summer 2016, but given his propensity for being erratic he would be considered a dark horse winner that weekend. He was also coming off a crash-induced 37th the previous summer. Since winning, he has swept the top 10 in his last two efforts, however.

7. Denny Hamlin
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 12.33
Career avg. finish: 12.1 in 23 attempts

Hamlin is widely considered a flat track master and his victory at New Hampshire two weeks ago confirms that. He was perfect on this track at the start of his career with two wins and poles in his rookie season, but has not earned a top-five since 2014.

8. Matt Kenseth
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 13.17
Career avg. finish: 14.9 in 35 attempts

Kenseth has four top-10s in his last five Pocono attempts. He is coming off back-to-back top-fives at New Hampshire and Indy—two other flat tracks—and that should make him extremely attractive to most fantasy players.

9. Chase Elliott (tied with Buescher)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 15.00 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.0 in 3 attempts

Elliott finished four laps off the pace with crash damage in this race last year, which means his other two efforts had to be great to offset that setback. He was fourth in spring 2016 and eighth this June, so it is safe to expect him to rebound and finish in the top 10 again.

9. Chris Buescher (tied with Elliott)
Last six races average finish at Pocono: 15.00 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.0 in 3 attempts

Buescher’s average is buoyed by his win last summer, but that is his only top-15. Any other driver might be considered a bad value with those numbers, but as one of the cheaper options in salary cap games, the No. 37 is a solid pick this week for the Overton’s 400.

 

Rank

Driver

Avg. Finish

Attempts

1.

Ryan Blaney

7.33

3

2.

Brad Keselowski

8.67

6

3.

Kyle Larson

9.17

6

4.

Kevin Harvick

10.17

6

5.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.20

5

6.

Kurt Busch

11.67

6

7.

Denny Hamlin

12.33

6

8.

Matt Kenseth

13.17

6

9.

Chase Elliott

15.00

3

9.

Chris Buescher

15.00

3

 

11.

Joey Logano

15.33

6

12.

Clint Bowyer

15.83

6

13.

Jamie McMurray

17.17

6

14.

Ryan Newman

18.00

6

15.

Austin Dillon

18.33

6

16.

Ty Dillon

19.00

3

17.

Martin Truex Jr.

19.17

6

18.

Kyle Busch

20.17

6

19.

Kasey Kahne

20.33

6

20.

AJ Allmendinger

21.83

6

21.

Jimmie Johnson

22.50

6

22.

David Ragan

23.17

6

23.

Trevor Bayne

23.40

5

24.

Michael McDowell

23.50

2

25.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24.17

6

26.

Danica Patrick

25.50

6

27.

Paul Menard

27.17

6

28.

Cole Whitt

27.83

6

29.

Landon Cassill

28.83

6

30.

Aric Almirola

31.00

5

31.

Reed Sorenson

32.00

5

32.

Matt DiBenedetto

32.20

5

33.

JJ Yeley

33.00

2

Drivers With One Start

 

Erik Jones

3.00

1

 

Daniel Suarez

15.00

1

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

26.00

1

 

Corey LaJoie

28.00

1

 

Gray Gaulding

29.00

1

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

34.00

1

 

Cody Ware

39.00

1


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: 6.6
In 2017: 9.7

Final Caution, last five races:
June 2017: Lap 142 of 160 – 1-car accident in turn one (Kasey Kahne)
August 2016: Lap 133 of 138 (fog, then rain)
June 2016: Lap 124 of 160 - two-car accident in turn 1 (Jimmie Johnson spun to avoid rubbing Casey Mears)
August 2015: Lap 93 of 160 – one-car accident in turn 1 (Alex Kennedy)
June 2015: Lap 142 of 160 – two-car accident in turn one (Ryan Newman and AJ Allmendinger)

Most caution laps: 57, 2004 Pocono 500
Fewest caution laps: 3, 1978 Coca-Cola 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 31.1
In 2017: 49.5

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
In 2017: 9.0

Most lead changes: 56, 1979 Coca-Cola 500
Fewest lead changes: 10, 1998 Pennsylvania 500
Average number of lead changes: 23.8
In 2017: 19.4

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Pocono (starting position):
June 2017: Ryan Blaney (4)
August 2016: Chris Buescher (22)
June 2016: Kurt Busch (9)
August 2015: Matt Kenseth (7 – fuel mileage)
June 2015: Martin Truex Jr. (3)

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

A race at Pocono has been won by the pole sitter 17 times and from the front row 26 times in 79 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 Pocono 
Denny Hamlin: 4
Jimmie Johnson: 3
Kurt Busch: 3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 2
Kasey Kahne: 2
Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., and Matt Kenseth: 1 each

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
Kurt Busch: 3

All flat tracks (Martinsville, Richmond, Phoenix, New Hampshire, Pocono, and Indy):
Jeff Gordon: 27
Jimmie Johnson: 26
Rusty Wallace: 19
Richard Petty: 17
Denny Hamlin: 16
Darrell Waltrip: 15
Kevin Harvick: 15
Tony Stewart: 14
Dale Earnhardt: 12
Kurt Busch: 11

First time winners at Pocono:
Ryan Blaney: 2017 Axalta 400
Chris Buescher: 2016 Pennsylvania 400
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 (23)
David Ragan (21)
Brad Keselowski (15)
Kyle Larson (7)
Ryan Blaney (3)
Chris Buescher (3)
Ty Dillon (3)
Chase Elliott (3)
Gray Gaulding (1)
Erik Jones (1)
Corey LaJoie (1)
Daniel Suarez (1)

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Denny Hamlin: 1 (both 2006 races)
Jimmie Johnson: 3 (2002)
Erik Jones: 3 (2017)
Chase Elliott: 4 (2016)
Kyle Busch: 4 (2005)
Kyle Larson: 5 (2014)
Ryan Blaney: 10 (2016)

Hamlin also won the pole in his first two races and then started on the outside front row in his third attempt.
Kasey Kahne won the pole in his first attempt in June 2004.

Current Streaks

At Pocono
Brad Keselowski, four top-fives
Kurt Busch, three top-10s
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Kyle Larson, two top-10s
Kyle Busch, two top-10s

On flat tracks (New Hampshire, Phoenix, Pocono, Indy, Richmond, and Martinsville)
Brad Keselowski, six top-10s
Kevin Harvick, four top-fives
Matt Kenseth, three top-10s
Daniel Suarez, two top-10s

In 2017
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Matt Kenseth, two top-fives
Brad Keselowski, two top-10s
Daniel Suarez, two 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.