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Statistically Speaking

Road Courses

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

While most NASCAR drivers cut their racing teeth on short bullrings across America, their love of the sport probably began much sooner. Like most of us, they enjoyed seeing just how fast they could navigate a tricky section of a back road around their home and slowly but certainly the passion took hold.

Many years ago when interviewing Mark Martin about his ability to race on this type of track, he replied that running fast on the roads around Batesville, Arkansas was what he grew up doing, so heaving a 3,500-pound stock car was not much different. It would seem he is not the only one who brought that skill with him to the big leagues.

Last year seven of a possible 10 drivers swept the top-10 on this track type. One other—Dale Earnhardt Jr.—came within one position of adding his name to the list after finishing 11th at Watkins Glen International. He was seventh at Sonoma Raceway.

Because so many drivers swept the top 10, we decided to expand the parameters for this article to include 2014. Deepening the data pool provides a little more insight, but it does not give fantasy drivers any potential 2016 picks that have swept the top 10 in those two seasons. Earnhardt remains close with back-to-back 11ths at the Glen and top-10s on the California road courses. More importantly, he is not the first driver one generally associates with this track type, so he allowed players to sneak up on the competition.

The driver with the best recent record on road courses also nearly swept the top 10. Kurt Busch finished 12th in last year’s Sonoma race, but he has been stellar ever since with top-fives in his past three attempts. He scored a victory in California for Roger Penske in 2011, almost pulled off a miracle with the lightly-funded No. 51 in 2012 despite having a suspension issue, and finished second on that same course in 2015.

The driver with the second-best average finish on road courses during the past two years will probably come as a surprise to many. Joey Logano regularly runs the K&N Races at Sonoma in order to get as much seat time as possible. He’s run in XFINITY at the Glen as well, and that experience has paid dividends. He enters the 2016 season with three consecutive top-six finishes and pushed Kevin Harvick just hard enough in the closing laps of this year’s Cheez-it 355 at the Glen to cause him to run out of fuel. Logano earned his first victory on the track type after doing so.

Kyle Busch was not particularly impressive last year on the road courses, but he made up for that in 2015. He won the Sonoma race and finished second to Logano at the Glen. Sonoma was Busch’s fourth win on this track type, but before players get too excited about him, they need to be aware that he has also finished 35th or worse on four occasions—mostly after experiencing crash damage.

Even after running short of fuel at the Glen, Harvick managed to finish third and complete his own sweep of the top five last year. He was seventh at the Glen in 2014, which gives him three consecutive top-10s alongside the elder Busch brother and Logano.

Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson round out the list of drivers who swept the top 10 last year, along with the now inactive Sam Hornish Jr. 

 

Driver

Avg. Finish

2015 Glen

2015 Sonoma

2014 Glen

2014 Sonoma

Kurt Busch

5.50

5

2

3

12

Joey Logano

7.00

1

5

6

16

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

8.00

11

7

11

3

Kevin Harvick

8.50

3

4

7

20

Sam Hornish Jr.

9.50

9

10

 

 

Clint Bowyer

11.50

6

3

27

10

Jimmie Johnson

12.75

10

6

28

7

Carl Edwards

13.50

8

40

5

1

Greg Biffle

14.50

14

27

8

9

Kyle Larson

14.75

12

15

4

28

Paul Menard

15.75

13

13

32

5

Kyle Busch

17.00

2

1

40

25

Kasey Kahne

17.00

42

8

12

6

Jamie McMurray

17.25

40

11

14

4

Aric Almirola

17.75

16

14

18

23

Matt Kenseth

19.00

4

21

9

42

Ryan Newman

19.00

15

9

41

11

Danica Patrick

20.00

17

24

21

18

Brad Keselowski

20.75

7

19

35

22

Casey Mears

21.00

18

38

15

13

Austin Dillon

21.50

36

17

16

17

Trevor Bayne

22.50

22

23

 

 

Jeff Gordon

23.25

41

16

34

2

Martin Truex Jr.

23.75

25

42

13

15

Denny Hamlin

23.75

27

18

24

26

Tony Stewart

24.67

43

12

 

19

AJ Allmendinger

24.75

24

37

1

37

Justin Allgaier

26.00

19

35

17

33

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

26.25

34

20

20

31

Matt DiBenedetto

27.50

26

29

 

 

Reed Sorenson

27.50

 

 

23

32

Cole Whitt

28.25

21

22

43

27

David Ragan

29.25

23

39

19

36

Boris Said

29.50

32

26

25

35

David Gilliland

29.75

33

43

22

21

Michael McDowell

30.00

20

34

42

24

Justin Marks

30.00

 

30

 

 

Michael Annett

31.25

31

33

31

30

Alex Bowman

31.25

29

31

36

29

Alex Kennedy

31.25

28

25

33

39

JJ Yeley

35.00

30

41

 

34

Josh Wise

35.33

 

28

38

40

Jeb Burton

35.50

39

32

 

 

Landon Cassill

35.75

35

36

29

43

Chris Buescher

37.00

37

 

 

 

Timmy Hill

38.00

38

 

 

 

 

Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks 
Short Tracks 
Two-mile Tracks 
Flat Tracks 

 

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.