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Statistically Speaking

Quicken Loans 500 Stats

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

This week’s race: Quicken Loans 500
Traditional Name: None
Other Notable Names: Phoenix AdvoCare 500, Kobalt Tools 500, Checker Auto Parts 500, Dura Lube 500, Slick 50 500, Pyroil 500

NASCAR is filled with the best drivers in the country. Everyone in the field got where they are by showing exceptional skill on bullrings and many of those were minimally-banked paved or dirt ovals. The short, flat tracks are drivers’ courses and the innate skill of the racers behind the wheel insures that the pack stays in tight formation.

There is one problem with that: it also means they are in heavy traffic much of the afternoon with very little chance of getting away from the competition. Frustration mounts in the best of circumstances and it is compounded for the Chasers. Phoenix International Raceway is Martinsville Speedway on steroids so the problems experienced there two weeks ago could be twice as great this week.

10 best drivers at Phoenix

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

1. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 3.00
Career avg. finish: 11.0 in 25 attempts

Drivers simply do not get any more dominant than Harvick has been at Phoenix in recent years. He won five of the last six races and most of those came after leading a vast majority of laps. He will be popular again this week and it would be difficult to bet against him in the Quicken Loans 500.

2. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 5.67
Career avg. finish: 13.9 in 12 attempts

Keselowski has been almost perfect in recent seasons at Phoenix with only one finish outside the top 10 in seven previous attempts—and that was an 11th. More than half of these were top-fives and that is going to make him one of the best values this week. Unfortunately he has to win to advance to the Championship race and he has never visited Victory Lane at Phoenix.

3. Kasey Kahne
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 10.17
Career avg. finish: 17.3 in 22 attempts

Kahne needs to end the season on a high note in order to gain some confidence for 2016 and that could happen this week. He won the fall 2011 edition of this race in his final start with Red Bull Racing and he earned a second with Hendrick Motorsports in 2013. Last fall was disappointing with a 21st, but he rebounded nicely with a top-five again this spring.

4. Jeff Gordon (tied with Edwards)
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 11.50
Career avg. finish: 10.9 in 33 attempts

Gordon won the most recent short, flat track race two weeks ago at Martinsville and it is not impossible that could happen again. He finished in the runner-up position in last year’s edition of this Phoenix race and that Martinsville melee. This spring he slipped to ninth, however, and the smart money says he will earn a result in the high single digits.

4. Carl Edwards (tied with Gordon)
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 11.50
Career avg. finish: 12.3 in 22 attempts

Edwards makes the top 10 largely on consistency, but he would not be in the top five if not for a victory in fall 2012. Since then he earned only one more top-10, but he has finished on the lead lap in 19 of his 22 career races. He will run strong, but that might not be enough to advance to the final round of the Chase unless one of the drivers ahead of him experiences trouble.

6. Ryan Newman
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 12.67
Career avg. finish: 17.3 in 26 attempts

Newman has been great at Phoenix in the majority of his recent starts, but it takes only one bad finish to drop a driver outside of the top five. Newman crashed and finished 40th in the spring 2013 race, but it was another almost-accident last fall that got him into the Chase finale when he knocked Kyle Larson into the wall in order to complete a pass on the final lap.

7. Denny Hamlin (tied with Logano)
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 13.33
Career avg. finish: 11.6 in 20 attempts

Hamlin is widely considered one of the best short, flat track drivers in the field and consecutive top-six races on several occasions ensures that Phoenix is part of the lore. He has also struggled here some in recent season the with three sub-15th-place results in his last four attempts and he is in jeopardy of slipping outside of the top 10.

7. Joey Logano (tied with Hamlin)
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 13.33
Career avg. finish: 14.5 in 13 attempts

If Logano gets to the Championship finale as a Chase contender he will have earned it since only one driver has beaten Harvick in the past five races there. It is not out of the question, however, since the No. 22 driver has been among the top 10 on this track in his last four consecutive races both in regard to qualification and finishing results.

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 13.83
Career avg. finish: 17.1 in 26 attempts

Earnhardt is an object lesson in why to take stats with a grain of salt sometimes. He entered the spring CampingWorld.com 500 with three top-fives plus a top-10 in his last four races there, but crashed on lap 179 of 312 and finished dead last in 43rd.

10. Kyle Larson
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 14.33 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 14.3 in 3 attempts

It has been difficult to predict strong runs for Larson based on his past results and that has something to do with his sophomore slump. At Phoenix the prediction may be a little easier since he has gotten stronger each time he has come to this track and landed in the top 10 for the first time this spring. Then again, three races is not a lot of data to consider, so he could still be hard to handicap.

Others of Note

11. Jamie McMurray
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 14.83
Career avg. finish: 20.0 in 24 attempts

McMurray has been coming on strong recently at Phoenix, but he has not yet cracked the top 10 in terms of his last six-race average. In his most recent races he has a worst result of 23rd and a sweep of the top 20 in his past four. This spring, he nearly caught Harvick even—before finishing second.

14. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 15.17
Career avg. finish: 13.9 in 26 attempts

Busch has finished in the top 10 in four of his last six race efforts and the only time he failed to do so was because of either mechanical issues or crash damage. Unfortunately, for him only one position matters this week and he has not won since well back in 2005.

15. Kyle Busch
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 15.20
Career avg. finish: 14.3 in 20 attempts

While his older brother is only concerned with winning, Kyle can advance to the final round with a solid finish. A top-10 will probably do it and he has six of those in his last eight attempts. If a driver deep in the Chase standing wins, he may need a top-five, however, and he only has two of those in his entire 20-race career.

16. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 15.50
Career avg. finish: 7.8 in 24 attempts

In time, Phoenix may develop a reputation as a bellwether for a driver’s momentum. Struggles there have predicated Hamlin’s problems and Johnson’s as well, but the pilot of the No. 48 has enough success on this track and is coming off a win last week at Texas to make him a driver to watch closely.

22. Martin Truex Jr.
Last six races average finish at Phoenix: 21.33
Career avg. finish: 17.1 in 19 attempts

Truex is in decent shape where the Chase is concerned, but he is not completely out of the woods. He would prefer to come to Phoenix with a legitimate shot at scoring a top-five, but has done so only once in 19 previous attempts. Three of his last four efforts landed in the top 12, but the slightest slip will allow Edwards—who has a much better Phoenix record—to overtake him. 

 

Rank

Driver

Avg. Fin. L3Yr

Attempts

1.

Kevin Harvick

3.00

6

2.

Brad Keselowski

5.67

6

3.

Kasey Kahne

10.17

6

4.

Jeff Gordon

11.50

6

4.

Carl Edwards

11.50

6

6.

Ryan Newman

12.67

6

7.

Denny Hamlin

13.33

6

7.

Joey Logano

13.33

6

9.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

13.83

6

10.

Kyle Larson

14.33

3

 

11.

Jamie McMurray

14.83

6

12.

Greg Biffle

15.00

6

12.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

15.00

5

14.

Kurt Busch

15.17

6

15.

Kyle Busch

15.20

5

16.

Jimmie Johnson

15.50

6

17.

Aric Almirola

17.00

6

18.

Paul Menard

17.50

6

18.

AJ Allmendinger

17.50

4

20.

Bobby Labonte

20.33

3

21.

Tony Stewart

20.40

5

22.

Martin Truex Jr.

21.33

6

23.

Clint Bowyer

21.83

6

24.

Casey Mears

22.00

6

25.

Austin Dillon

25.67

3

26.

Danica Patrick

28.83

6

27.

Justin Allgaier

29.00

4

28.

David Gilliland

29.83

6

29.

David Ragan

30.00

6

30.

Timmy Hill

31.50

2

31.

Reed Sorenson

32.00

3

32.

JJ Yeley

32.40

5

33.

Landon Cassill

32.50

6

34.

Cole Whitt

33.50

4

34.

Michael McDowell

33.50

4

36.

Michael Annett

34.00

3

37.

Alex Bowman

34.33

3

38.

Travis Kvapil

34.60

5

39.

Sam Hornish Jr.

35.50

2

40.

Josh Wise

38.17

6

41.

Mike Bliss

39.75

4

Drivers with only one start

 

Ty Dillon

27.00

1

 

Trevor Bayne

28.00

1

 

Brett Moffitt

32.00

1

 

Brian Scott

32.00

1

 

Joey Gase

33.00

1

 

Jeb Burton

34.00

1

 

Matt DiBenedetto

35.00

1

 

Alex Kennedy

38.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 12, 2014 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500
Fewest caution flags: 2, 1999 Checker Auto Parts / Dura Lube 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 7.4
In 2015: 8.6

Final Caution, last five races on this track:
March 2015: lap 297 of 312: 2-car accident in turn 4 (Danica Patrick and David Ragan—in a relationship at the time)
November 2014: 298 of 312: 2-car accident in turn 4 (Reed Sorenson and Mike Wallace)
March 2014: 298 of 312: (fluid from Kurt Busch)
November 2013: 287 of 312: debris
March 2013: 311 of 316 (to set up a green-white-checker): 1-car accident (Ken Schrader)

Most caution laps: 66, 2003 Checker Auto Parts 500
Fewest caution laps: 10, 1999 Checker Auto Parts / Dura Lube 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 39.8
In 2015: 46.5

Leading the way

Most leaders: 15, 2012 Subway Fresh Fit 500
Fewest leaders: 2, 1990 Checker 500
Average number of leaders: 8.1
In 2015: 8.4

Most lead changes: 28, 2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500
Fewest lead changes: 1, 1990 Checker 500
Average number of lead changes: 13.8
In 2015: 17.4

Victory Lane

Last five winners (starting position):
March 2015: Kevin Harvick (pole)
November 2014: Kevin Harvick (third)
March 2014: Kevin Harvick (13th)
November 2013: Kevin Harvick (ninth)
March 2013: Carl Edwards (15th)
November 2012: Kevin Harvick (19th)

Worst starting position for race winner: 29th, Ricky Rudd: 1995 Dura Lube 500

A race at Phoenix has been won by the pole sitter 5 times and from the front row 8 times in 38 races.

 
Recent races won from the pole:
March 2015: Kevin Harvick, CampingWorld.com 500
November 2010: Carl Edwards, Kobalt Tools 500
April 2009: Mark Martin, Subway Fresh Fit 500
November 2008: Jimmie Johnson, Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 by Pennzoil
April 2007: Jeff Gordon, Subway Fresh Fit 500

Active winners at Phoenix:
Kevin Harvick: 7
Jimmie Johnson: 4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 2
Carl Edwards: 2
Jeff Gordon: 2
Kurt Busch: 1
Kyle Busch: 1
Denny Hamlin: 1
Kasey Kahne: 1
Matt Kenseth: 1
Ryan Newman: 1
Tony Stewart: 1

First time winners at Phoenix:
Bobby Hamilton, 1996 Dura Lube 500
Alan Kulwicki, 1988 Checker 500

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Phoenix race they started:
Kevin Harvick (25)
Denny Hamlin (20)
Paul Menard (17)
AJ Allmendinger (12)
Aric Almirola (9)
Sam Hornish Jr. (9)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5)
Michael Annett (3)
Austin Dillon (3)
Kyle Larson (3)
Justin Allgaier (4) *
Timmy Hill (2)
Jeb Burton (1)
Matt DiBenedetto (1)
Brett Moffitt (1)

* for the first time in his career, Allgaier did not sustain crash damage at Phoenix.
Tony Stewart had been running at the end of 25 consecutive races until the second of two accidents sent him home early this spring.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Tony Stewart: first (1999)
Kasey Kahne: fifth (2004)
Kyle Busch: eighth (2005)

Current Streaks

At Phoenix
Kevin Harvick, four victories (and five of last six)
Joey Logano, four top-10s
Brad Keselowski, three top-10s
Jeff Gordon, three top-10s
Kurt Busch, two top-10s

On short, flat tracks (Phoenix, New Hampshire, Richmond, and Martinsville)
Jeff Gordon, nine top-10s
Denny Hamlin, three top-10s
Kasey Kahne, two top-10s
Ryan Newman, two top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., two top-10s

In 2015
Jeff Gordon, five top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., three top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., three top-10s
Kyle Busch, two top-fives
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s
Jamie McMurray, 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.