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Statistically Speaking

Update: Daytona (Summer)

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

The No. 24 team with Chase Elliott and Jeff Gordon has been the class of the field in restrictor-plate, superspeedway qualification. And they apparently shared some of their information with the No. 88. Posting a speed of 190.973 mph in the final round of time trials, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will lead the field to the green flag Saturday night in what may be his last attempt at this track.

Earnhardt was once the Pied Piper of plate racing. It did not matter to most of the competition that following him meant losing to him; the cost of pulling out of line was even greater as the next driver in line was more than happy to fill the gap and advance a position. He has managed to keep a lot of that mystique despite modest finishes in the past two years. This weekend, he is going to lead a lot of laps early in the going, which will more than offset any place-differential points lost if he fails to win from the pole.

Elliott thought he had a shot at taking the pole and he had a good reason to believe that. He took the top spot in his two previous career Daytona 500 starts and set the pace at Talladega SuperSpeedway last spring. He’s run well on this course type, but in six starts so far he has lost place-differential points every time. This week is not going to be an exception. The odds of him winning are 40-1 in a 40-car field, but he should also be able to lead some laps and offset that loss.

Kasey Kahne proved that the engine program at Hendrick Motorsports is alive and well with his fourth-place qualification effort. Coming off last week’s hard crash on the final lap of the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, he desperately needs a strong run. Elliott just re-signed with the organization through 2022, Earnhardt is retiring, and Jimmie Johnson is finally getting a little long in the tooth—and yet nothing gets said about Kahne’s future. Whether he stays put or heads to another team, a victory makes signing that contract and sponsor easier.

To find some good values in games that offer place-differential points, one must look deeper in the field at drivers who worked on race trim and gave up any desire to qualify well. Kyle Larson was leading late in the Daytona 500 before running out of gas in the final laps and he starts just outside of the midpoint in 21st. If he stays out of trouble, he will not finish back there.

The JTG-Daugherty Racing drivers also deserve some attention. AJ Allmendinger and Chris Buescher line up nose to tail on the inside rows of 14 and 15. This organization has managed to put their drivers in a position to win on several occasions on plate tracks and should easily earn enough points to make them a good salary cap consideration.

The Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle line up side-by-side on row eight. Both of them have stellar plate track records, but if a player can afford only one, it should be Kurt because of his consistency on this track type. 

 

Start

Driver

Qual Speed

Practice 1
Rank

Final Practice
Rank

Avg. Rank

           

3

Brad Keselowski

      190.287

2

 

2.5

5

Kevin Harvick

      190.046

3

 

4.0

6

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      190.006

6

 

6.0

9

Ryan Blaney

      189.785

4

 

6.5

7

Joey Logano

      189.921

4

9

6.7

1

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      190.973

19

1

7.0

16

Kyle Busch

      189.060

1

 

8.5

14

Trevor Bayne

      189.223

9

8

10.3

2

Chase Elliott

      190.795

24

7

11.0

4

Kasey Kahne

      190.050

26

5

11.7

11

Clint Bowyer

      189.530

20

6

12.3

15

Kurt Busch

      189.199

10

 

12.5

12

Jimmie Johnson

      189.450

25

3

13.3

23

Michael McDowell

      188.419

16

2

13.7

19

Austin Dillon

      188.842

8

16

14.3

18

Denny Hamlin

      188.885

13

 

15.5

13

Matt Kenseth

      189.302

22

13

16.0

20

Daniel Suarez

      188.561

14

 

17.0

28

Matt DiBenedetto

      187.668

7

 

17.5

26

Landon Cassill

      188.218

15

12

17.7

17

Erik Jones

      188.980

27

9

17.7

8

Jamie McMurray

      189.849

35

11

18.0

24

Paul Menard

      188.273

17

15

18.7

31

Darrell Wallace Jr.

      186.935

12

17

20.0

10

Danica Patrick

      189.633

31

 

20.5

32

Brendan Gaughan

      186.726

30

3

21.7

34

Ty Dillon

      186.158

11

 

22.5

30

David Ragan

      187.340

21

18

23.0

21

Kyle Larson

      188.513

34

14

23.0

35

Cole Whitt

      185.628

18

19

24.0

25

Martin Truex Jr.

      188.225

23

 

24.0

22

Ryan Newman

      188.458

28

 

25.0

33

Elliott Sadler

      186.718

29

 

31.0

27

AJ Allmendinger

      187.758

37

 

32.0

29

Chris Buescher

      187.621

36

 

32.5

36

Corey LaJoie

      185.456

32

 

34.0

38

Ryan Sieg

      183.438

33

 

35.5

37

Reed Sorenson

      184.627

39

 

38.0

40

DJ Kennington

              -  

38

 

39.0

39

Jeffrey Earnhardt

      181.496

40

 

39.5

 

10-Lap Averages

 

10-Lap Averages

 

Avg

Practice 1

 

Final Practice

 

Rank

                 

1

Trevor Bayne

      196.073

 

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

1.0

2

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      196.059

 

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

 

2.0

3

Joey Logano

      196.002

 

 

Joey Logano

 

 

3.0

4

Kevin Harvick

      195.709

 

 

Kevin Harvick

 

 

4.0

5

Ryan Blaney

      195.551

 

 

Ryan Blaney

 

 

5.0

6

Kurt Busch

      195.412

 

 

Kurt Busch

 

 

6.0

7

Brad Keselowski

      195.378

 

 

Brad Keselowski

 

 

7.0

8

Ty Dillon

      195.308

 

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

8.0

16

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      192.920

 

2

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  192.291

 

9.0

9

Denny Hamlin

      195.217

 

 

Denny Hamlin

 

 

9.0

10

Daniel Suarez

      194.959

 

 

Daniel Suarez

 

 

10.0

20

Jimmie Johnson

      191.805

 

1

Jimmie Johnson

  192.349

 

10.5

11

Matt DiBenedetto

      194.942

 

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

11.0

21

Kasey Kahne

      189.655

 

3

Kasey Kahne

  192.111

 

12.0

12

Kyle Busch

      194.660

 

 

Kyle Busch

 

 

12.0

13

Darrell Wallace Jr.

      194.229

 

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

 

 

13.0

14

Michael McDowell

      194.010

 

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

14.0

15

Matt Kenseth

      193.450

 

 

Matt Kenseth

 

 

15.0

17

Chase Elliott

      192.158

 

 

Chase Elliott

 

 

17.0

18

Austin Dillon

      191.926

 

 

Austin Dillon

 

 

18.0

19

Paul Menard

      191.891

 

 

Paul Menard

 

 

19.0

 

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.