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Statistically Speaking

Quality Passes Through Week 4

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: April 22, 2020, 8:47 pm ET

It’s one thing to run among the top 15. It’s quite another to be able to pass the most competitive drivers in the field.

Last week we looked at drivers who have spent laps inside the top 15. This week’s statistically speaking column considers drivers with the most Quality Passes, which is a pass for position while running inside the top 15.

When considering this stat, fantasy players have to take into consideration a driver’s Average Running Position as well. When they get well-established inside the top-five or -10, there is typically very little movement. Kevin Harvick’s 12th-best 262 Quality Passes does not necessarily mean he has not run well. After all, he has the third-best average place during a race.

However, the aggregate number is important. Joey Logano and Chase Elliott have the best and second-best Average Running Positions, but they also top the Quality Passes chart. This means, they have lost track position at critical junctures in the first four races, but were able to overcome the loss to climb back into contention.


Logano recorded the most QPs in the Daytona 500. Typically, we don’t put much stock in that particular stat on that particular track, but when a driver is among the top five there, it suggests he was part of the lead draft for a long time. It is not useful in a predictive model; Logano finished 26th in that race after sustaining crash damage. But what it does show is how forceful a driver is prone to be – and Logano is one of the most aggressive drivers in the field.

Logano also ranked among the top 10 in the three unrestricted tracks with the top-10 rankings each week. His best performance in this regard came at Auto Club when he recorded 88 QPs, but he lost position at the end of the 400-miler to finish 12th. In the two races he won, Logano made 57 QPs at Vegas and Phoenix.

Elliott has the second-most Quality Passes. The reason for it with this driver is clear. He’s gotten off-sequence a time or two and been caught in the back of the pack. In the past few seasons, this would be critical given the struggles Chevrolet has had with adjusting to the new aerodynamics.

Elliott managed to overcome his problems at Vegas to get back into the lead pack, but he was ultimately sidelined by a cut valve stem there and finished outside the top 25. He recorded 72 passes among the top 15 that week. In the next race, he logged 103 QPs (the most) and finished fourth. In the most recent race, he had his least dramatic showing yet when he made 52 Quality Passes and finished seventh.

Brad Keselowski has ridden a rollercoaster most weeks. He’s run well, but has been unable to establish and maintain his position for enough consecutive laps to make him a safe choice. In terms of Quality Passes, he ranked sixth or better in the first three races with the fifth-most (184) at Daytona, sixth-most (70) at Vegas, and third-most (96) at Auto Club. Those rankings on the unrestricted races reflect his finishes as well. Keselowski was seventh at Vegas and fifth at Auto Club.

Keselowski also finished close to his QP ranking at Phoenix He logged the 12th-most (45) passes and finished 11th.

Hendrick Motorsports has exceeded expectations in every category this season. Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman land fourth and fifth on this chart with an almost identical number of QPs. Johnson has 384; Bowman has 383. As with their second-ranked teammate Elliott, this suggests an ability to overcome the loss of track position. It also means they are trustworthy choices to round out a lineup when their salary cap fits your niche.

The remainder of the top 10 holds few surprises. Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, and even Kyle Busch (based on his last two performances) should be expected to have high numbers on this chart. Ninth-ranked Matt DiBenedetto is less of a surprise than one would have imagined at the beginning of the season.

The driver in 11th deserves some special attention, however. Chris Buescher has not had the type season we hoped for at the start of the year. His move to Roush Fenway Racing should have produced more top-10s than his single effort at Daytona – but this team had a huge setback with the injury to Ryan Newman. Still, Buescher has shown perseverance in his last three starts with results of 14th through 16th. Most of his Quality Passes came at Daytona with 202, but he was notable at Vegas (23) and Auto Club (41) as well.

Season to Date: Quality Passes

Rank

Driver

Quality Passes

1.

Joey Logano

430

2.

Chase Elliott

408

3.

Brad Keselowski

395

4.

Jimmie Johnson

384

5.

Alex Bowman

383

6.

Aric Almirola

350

7.

Kurt Busch

345

8.

Ryan Blaney

342

9.

Matt DiBenedetto

326

10.

Kyle Busch

312

 

11.

Chris Buescher

268

12.

Kevin Harvick

262

13.

William Byron

253

14.

Tyler Reddick

236

15.

Austin Dillon

230

16.

Martin Truex Jr.

213

17.

Denny Hamlin

206

18.

Ross Chastain

205

19.

Clint Bowyer

204

20.

Erik Jones

203

21.

Kyle Larson

196

22.

Ty Dillon

194

23.

Christopher Bell

190

24.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

185

25.

Cole Custer

108

26.

Ryan Preece

105

27.

Ryan Newman

96

28.

Bubba Wallace

44

29.

JH Nemechek

43

30.

Michael McDowell

41

31.

Corey LaJoie

36

32.

David Ragan

31

33.

Timmy Hill

24

34.

Brendan Gaughan

17

35.

Quin Houff

12

36.

Justin Haley

11

37.

Daniel Suarez

5

38.

Reed Sorenson

3

38.

JJ Yeley

3

40.

Joey Gase

2

41.

Brennan Poole

1

 

2020 Stats through Week 4

Laps in the top-15
Green Flag Speed
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.