Statistically Speaking

STP 500 Stats

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: STP 500
Traditional Name: Virginia 500
Other Notable Names: Goody's Fast Relief 500, Goody's Cool Orange 500, Advance Auto Parts 500, Goody's Body Pain 500, Hanes 500, Pannill Sweatshirts 500, Sovran Bank 500

That big sigh you heard at the beginning of this week was the collective relief of NASCAR short track fans.

After a restrictor-plate, superspeedway race and three events on similarly-configured, 1.5- and two-mile tracks, it’s time to get back to basics and a short track. Many years ago, NASCAR severely limited the number of visits to tracks less than a mile in length, so the one-mile flat tracks of Phoenix International Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway got reclassified for fantasy racing handicap purposes to short, flat tracks.

With one visit in the books in 2016 to Phoenix, fantasy owners have a little information from which to draw this week. Drivers who were strong in the Good Sam 500 will likely be solid picks again for the STP 500.

10 best drivers at Martinsville

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

1. Denny Hamlin
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 7.60 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 18.0 in 17 attempts

Three has been the magic number for Hamlin in the past two weeks. He finished third after starting third at both Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway. It is not difficult to guess where he finished at Martinsville last fall: he was third after starting 10th. He wants to replicate year’s STP 500 instead, however; he won from 15th.

2. Kyle Busch
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 10.00 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.2 in 18 attempts

Busch missed last spring’s STP 500, but he probably would have finished in the top 10 if he had started the race. In his personal past six attempts, Busch has not finished worse than 15th and has an average of 8.6.That was buoyed by a runner-up finish in 2012 Tums Fast Relief 500.

3. Matt Kenseth
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 15.2 in 18 attempts

If not for the dramatic accident that marked last fall’s Goody’s 500, Kenseth would probably have a better-than-10th-place average at Martinsville. His six-race mark heading into that race was 7.8 and he was riding a four-race, top-six streak. It’s hard to maintain that level of excellence at NASCAR’s top level and he was collateral damage in a Brad Keselowski v. Kurt Busch incident.

4. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 12.50
Career avg. finish: 17.6 in 26 attempts

Most of the top 10 in this week’s three-year average have been impacted by incidents sometime during the past six events. Harvick’s hardship came in fall 2014 when he lost more than 40 laps to crash damage, but four top-10s in the last five races have him in the top five. Still, one expects Harvick to challenge for victories and that has not happened since 2011.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 12.67
Career avg. finish: 11.6 in 29 attempts

Junior has two modest results in his last six Martinsville races (a 24th in spring 2013 and 36th last fall), but a victory in fall 2014 counterbalances them. That is one of three top-fives he earned in the past four races on this little bullring and the only time in the last two years he failed to finish that well was because of crash damage.

6. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 12.83
Career avg. finish: 22.1 in 16 attempts

Bowyer was heading in the wrong direction in both of last year’s Martinsville races. He broke a six-race, top-10 streak in the spring and crashed to finish last in the fall. Given his struggles at HScott Motorsports this year, predicting a top-15 for him in the STP 500 is a stretch.

7. Joey Logano
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 14.33
Career avg. finish: 18.8 in 10 attempts

Logano was in route to Victory Lane last fall before he was intentionally wrecked by Kenseth. That would have been his fourth consecutive top-10 and it would have put him second on the six-year average chart. He is going to have to dust himself off and start a new streak before slowly working his way back up this grid.

8. Jimmie Johnson (tied with McMurray)
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 14.50
Career avg. finish: 10.7 in 25 attempts

It is notable that Johnson is tied for eighth in the three-year rankings with McMurray. Johnson is considered a favorite because of eight wins, but his last three efforts have all landed outside the top 10. With two victories to his credit in 2016, it’s difficult to imagine him struggling this week, though.

8. Jamie McMurray (tied with Johnson)
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 14.50
Career avg. finish: 20.6 in 23 attempts

McMurray is not the first driver who comes to mind on this short track. That would be an entirely different story if he had beaten Jeff Gordon to the line last fall instead of finishing second, but the fact remains that the pilot of the No. 1 has four top-10s in his last six attempts at Martinsville.

10. Carl Edwards
Last six races average finish at Martinsville: 15.17
Career avg. finish: 14.0 in 19 attempts

Edwards has not earned a Martinsville top-10 since the fall 2011 Tums Fast Relief 500—and that is one of only five career top-10s for Cousin Carl. He makes his way onto the top-10 list with consistency. Edwards is so consistent in fact that he has 13 consecutive top-20s entering this week and all but one of those ended with him on the same lap as the leaders.

 

Rank

Driver

Avg. Fin. L3Yr

Attempts

1.

Denny Hamlin

7.60

5

2.

Kyle Busch

10.00

5

3.

Matt Kenseth

11.67

6

4.

Kevin Harvick

12.50

6

5.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

12.67

6

6.

Clint Bowyer

12.83

6

7.

Joey Logano

14.33

6

8.

Jamie McMurray

14.50

6

8.

Jimmie Johnson

14.50

6

10.

Carl Edwards

15.17

6

 

11.

Greg Biffle

15.67

6

12.

Aric Almirola

16.17

6

13.

Paul Menard

17.17

6

14.

Brian Vickers

18.00

3

15.

AJ Allmendinger

18.50

4

16.

Brad Keselowski

18.83

6

16.

Kasey Kahne

18.83

6

18.

Regan Smith

19.00

2

19.

Ryan Newman

21.00

6

20.

Martin Truex Jr.

21.17

6

21.

Austin Dillon

21.50

4

22.

Casey Mears

21.67

6

23.

Kurt Busch

23.33

6

24.

David Ragan

23.50

6

25.

Danica Patrick

23.67

6

26.

Trevor Bayne

24.50

2

27.

Landon Cassill

24.67

6

28.

Cole Whitt

24.80

5

29.

Michael Annett

29.25

4

30.

Kyle Larson

29.50

5

31.

Matt DiBenedetto

30.50

2

32.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

31.67

6

33.

Josh Wise

31.80

5

34.

Michael McDowell

35.33

3

35.

Reed Sorenson

36.33

3

Drivers with only one start

 

Chris Buescher

24.00

1

 

Chase Elliott

38.00

1


Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 21, 2007 Subway 500
Fewest caution flags: 1 (2 times), 1971 Virginia 500, 1966 Virginia 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 9.3
In 2016: 5.2

Final Caution, last five races:
November 2015: Lap 495 of 500: 1-car accident in turn 1 (Sam Hornish Jr.)
March 2015: 461 of 500: debris on frontstretch
October 2014: 490 of 500: 2-car accident in turn three (Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Larson) including a 9:19 minute red flag.
March 2014: 460 of 500: 1-car spin in turn 2 (Carl Edwards)
October 2013: 417 of 500: debris

Most caution laps: 127, 2007 Subway 500
Fewest caution laps: 0, 1959 Virginia 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 63.0
In 2016: 28.6

Leading the way

Most leaders: 14, 2001 Old Dominion 500
Fewest leaders: 2 (5 times), 1976 Old Dominion 500, 1965 Old Dominion 500, 1963 Old Dominion 500, 1961 Virginia 500, 1958 Grand National Race No 49
Average number of leaders: 6.4
In 2016: 7.8

Most lead changes: 33, 2014 STP 500
Fewest lead changes: 1 (2 times), 1961 Virginia 500, 1958 Grand National Race No 49
Average number of lead changes: 12.3
In 2016: 20.5

Victory Lane

Last five winners (starting position):
November 2015: Jeff Gordon (5)
March 2015: Denny Hamlin (15)
October 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23rd)
March 2014: Kurt Busch (22nd)
October 2013: Jeff Gordon (ninth)

Worst starting position for race winner: 36th, Kurt Busch: 2002 Old Dominion 500 by Old Navy. Notably, Busch also won this spring after starting 22nd, the worst starting position for a driver since 2002.

Jeff Gordon won his 93rd and final race in the fall 2015 Goody’s 500.

A race at Martinsville has been won by the pole sitter 20 times and from the front row 34 times in 121 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
April 2013: Jimmie Johnson, STP Gas Booster 500
October 2012: Jimmie Johnson, Tums Fast Relief 500
October 2010: Denny Hamlin, Tums Fast Relief 500
October 2008: Jimmie Johnson, Tums QuikPak 500 (set by rule book)
October 2003: Jeff Gordon, Subway 500
April 2003: Jeff Gordon, Virginia 500
October 2000: Tony Stewart, NAPA AutoCare 500

Active winners at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson: 8
Denny Hamlin: 5
Tony Stewart: 3
Kurt Busch: 2
Kevin Harvick: 1
Ryan Newman: 1
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 1

First time winners at Martinsville:
Ricky Craven, 2001 Old Dominion 500
Geoff Bodine, 1984 Sovran Bank 500
Harry Gant, 1982 Virginia National Bank 500
Morgan Shepherd, 1981 Virginia 500
Dave Marcis, 1975 Old Dominion 500
Earl Ross, 1974 Old Dominion 500
Fred Lorenzen, 1961 Virginia 500
Bob Welborn, 1957 Grand National Race No 49
Jack Smith, 1956 Grand National Race No 54

All-time winners
Short, flat tracks (Martinsville, Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire)
Top 10:

Jimmie Johnson: 18
Jeff Gordon: 16
Richard Petty: 15
Rusty Wallace: 15
Kevin Harvick: 13
Darrell Waltrip: 11
Denny Hamlin: 10
Tony Stewart: 10
Dale Earnhardt: 9
Jeff Burton: 8
Kurt Busch: 8

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Martinsville race they started:
Greg Biffle (26)
Carl Edwards (23)
Joey Logano (14)
Brad Keselowski (12)
Regan Smith (10)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6)
Cole Whitt (5)
Michael Annett (4)
Trevor Bayne (3)
Matt DiBenedetto (2)
Chris Buescher (1)
Chase Elliott (1)

Jimmie Johnson failed to finish his first race in 2002, but has been running at the end of the last 27.
Kyle Busch failed to finish his first race in 2005, but has been running at the end of the last 20.

Jeff Gordon ended his career by finishing all 46 races he entered at Martinsville.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Denny Hamlin: eighth (2005)

Current Streaks

At Martinsville
Denny Hamlin, three top-10s
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s
Jamie McMurray, two top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., two top-10s

On Short tracks (Martinsville, Bristol, and Richmond)
Kyle Busch, three top-10s
Denny Hamlin, three top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., three top-10s

On Short, flat tracks (Martinsville, Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire)
Denny Hamlin, five top-10s
Kyle Busch, three top-fives
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., three top-fives
Kurt Busch, two top-10s

In 2015/2016
Kevin Harvick, nine top-10s
Carl Edwards, two top-10s
Chase Elliott, two top-10s

The Auto Club 400 was a streak killer, ending streaks for the following drivers:
Kyle Busch, eight top-fives
Kurt Busch, seven top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., three top-10s
Austin Dillon, two top-10s
Ryan Blaney, two top-10s

 


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