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Statistically Speaking

Update: Indy

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

Prior to winning the pole for the Crown Royal Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard on Saturday, Kyle Busch’s best qualification effort at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a seventh in 2012. He scored a then career-best finish and crossed und the checkers second. Last year, he recorded his second career top-10 start on this track and won his first Brickyard 400. That completed a sweep of Victory Lane last year as Busch became accustomed to racing with the leaders. There is no reason to expect him to run any less strong this week and Busch should easily contend for a top-five.

Carl Edwards completed a Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) sweep of the front row with a speed of 184.547 mph. He has been widely considered one of the favorites to win this week, but the same held true at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last week. The difference is that Edwards misplayed his qualification effort on the one-miler and rolled off the grid in heavy traffic from 13th. This week, he will drop behind Busch and ride for a little while and the two will dominate laps led in the early stages.

Denny Hamlin qualified fourth in another JGR Toyota and is one of the better flat track racers in the field. Matt Kenseth trailed the organization with the 18th-fastest speed.

Meanwhile, it appears Tony Stewart has a few tricks left up his sleeve. He clipped the bottom apron on his qualification lap and scrubbed just enough speed to keep him from winning the pole in his final Brickyard 400. With a lap of 184.328 mph, he was only 0.058 seconds slower than pole sitter Busch. NASCAR is made up of great story lines; Smoke winning in his final attempt on this track would certainly fit that bill.

Joe Gibbs Racing put three of their drivers in the top 12 on the grid, but one organization that should dominate failed to get anyone to advance that far. Kasey Kahne did not make it out of round one with the 26th-fastest lap of 183.109 mph. Jeff Gordon, in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr., focused on getting into the top 24, but did not improve much after doing so; he starts 21st. Chase Elliott qualified 15th with Jimmie Johnson starting in the unluckiest position of all: 13th.

On 2.5-mile tracks, teams often fail to record 10 or more consecutive laps, which limits the usefulness of this statistic, but Hamlin had the best long run average. From his laps 45 through 54 during final practice, he posted a speed of 177.938 mph putting the No. 11 ahead of teammate Busch. Elliott, Johnson, and Kahne rounded out the top five of 11 drivers who went that far.

Kevin Harvick had the most consistently fast time on Friday. He was fourth fastest in the morning session and second-best in final practice. He lost just a little ground to the competition in time trials and rolls off the grid seventh.

Josh Wise was the only driver who failed to qualify.
 

Start

Driver

Qual Speed

Practice 1

Rank

Final Practice

Rank

Avg. Rank

               

1

Kyle Busch

      184.634

    179.154

12

                184.619

1

4.7

2

Carl Edwards

      184.547

    179.741

6

                183.554

5

4.3

3

Tony Stewart

      184.328

    179.655

8

                180.505

24

11.7

4

Denny Hamlin

      184.079

    182.563

2

                181.335

17

7.7

5

Brad Keselowski

      183.591

    178.941

14

                181.262

18

12.3

6

Ryan Newman

      183.202

    178.794

5

                183.673

4

5.0

7

Kevin Harvick

      182.852

    179.845

4

                184.268

2

4.3

8

Martin Truex Jr.

      182.500

    179.251

10

                183.012

8

8.7

9

Jamie McMurray

      182.463

    178.497

18

                182.452

13

13.3

10

Kyle Larson

      182.386

    178.671

17

                183.767

3

10.0

11

Kurt Busch

      182.349

    177.588

24

                181.247

19

18.0

12

Austin Dillon

      182.286

    177.718

23

                183.494

6

13.7

13

Jimmie Johnson

      183.554

    184.185

1

                183.143

7

7.0

14

Joey Logano

      183.273

    178.483

19

                182.819

11

14.7

15

Chase Elliott

      183.068

    179.695

7

                182.585

12

11.3

16

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      183.020

    177.288

26

                181.767

16

19.3

17

Ryan Blaney

      182.823

    177.894

21

                182.179

14

17.3

18

Matt Kenseth

      182.223

    179.008

13

                179.258

30

20.3

19

Greg Biffle

      182.057

    177.813

22

                181.859

15

18.7

20

Trevor Bayne

      181.980

    177.190

27

                180.828

23

23.3

21

Jeff Gordon

      181.851

    179.376

9

                180.375

25

18.3

22

Chris Buescher

      181.265

    176.592

29

                180.339

26

25.7

23

Paul Menard

      181.196

    178.678

16

                180.999

21

20.0

24

Danica Patrick

      180.058

    175.939

30

                182.912

9

21.0

25

AJ Allmendinger

      183.169

    178.852

15

                182.879

10

16.7

26

Kasey Kahne

      183.109

    179.190

11

                181.003

20

19.0

27

Michael McDowell

      182.819

    175.829

31

                180.839

22

26.7

28

David Ragan

      182.400

    174.791

34

                179.849

27

29.7

29

Aric Almirola

      182.219

    177.508

25

                179.015

31

28.3

30

Matt DiBenedetto

      182.083

    174.500

35

                178.820

32

32.3

31

Clint Bowyer

      181.932

    175.740

32

                179.333

28

30.3

32

Brian Scott

      181.690

    178.179

20

                177.753

35

29.0

33

Landon Cassill

      181.342

    176.599

28

                178.250

33

31.3

34

Casey Mears

      180.792

    180.346

3

                179.308

29

22.0

35

Cole Whitt

      179.651

    171.599

36

                176.644

37

36.0

36

Ryan Ellis

      179.019

    168.700

41

                176.318

38

38.3

37

Regan Smith

      178.356

    175.073

33

                177.964

34

34.7

38

Michael Annett

      177.978

    171.354

37

                176.876

36

37.0

39

Reed Sorenson

      176.180

    170.668

38

                174.652

40

39.0

40

Patrick Carpentier

      174.027

    169.677

39

                173.364

41

40.0

 

Josh Wise

 

    169.501

40

                175.493

39

40.0

 

10-Lap Averages Avg
Final Practice Rank
       
1 Denny Hamlin   177.938 1.0
2 Kyle Busch   177.709 2.0
3 Chase Elliott   177.016 3.0
4 Jimmie Johnson   177.008 4.0
5 Kasey Kahne   176.814 5.0
6 Tony Stewart   176.664 6.0
7 Austin Dillon   176.235 7.0
8 Ryan Blaney   176.126 8.0
9 Joey Logano   175.597 9.0
10 Chris Buescher   174.214 10.0
11 Clint Bowyer   173.782 11.0

 

 

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.