Statistically Speaking

Update: Texas

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

This year, we have been looking at speed in combined practice sessions and qualification. Two drivers stand head and shoulders above the competition in that regard. Martin Truex Jr. has been uneven at Texas Motor Speedway during his career. He swept the top 10 last year, but failed to earn a top-15 in either 2014 race. He can take this track in spells, and has not yet scored three consecutive Texas top-10s, but this could be his week to set a new record. One would be more confident if not for his 32nd at Auto Club Speedway and 18th at Martinsville Speedway—and the momentum that may have robbed.

After a disappointing week at Martinsville, Joey Logano needs to bounce back. He qualified on the pole for the STP 500, but fell back quickly and never recovered. The last time he started on the front row on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track, however, he finished second from second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He has been running well recently, as his numbers in this week’s Statistically Speaking column attests, but a crash last fall hurts his average. Logano had the third-fastest time Thursday afternoon and was fifth-best in final practice.

After that, fantasy players can throw a blanket over pole sitter Carl Edwards, eighth-place qualifier Brad Keselowski, and 11th-place Jimmie Johnson.

Edwards’ pole certainly recommends him, but Keselowski was second-fastest on Thursday and Johnson makes up with consistency what he lacks in shear speed. Which of these drivers winds up ahead of the others will depend on track position and whether a long, green-flag run develops at the end of the Duck Commander 500. That is hard to anticipate early, so players need to make a decision based on other factors. Edwards is likely to cost place-differential points in games that offer them, while Johnson is going to gain them—but the No. 48 will cost quite a bit more than the No. 19.

Some high-profile drivers to avoid will be Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard.

Earnhardt has Hendrick Motorsports power under the hood, but he is going to be mired in traffic at the start of the race. His 16th-place qualification effort is underscored by the 17th-fastest lap in final practice. He was one of only eight drivers who did not run at least 10 consecutive laps in Happy Hour and was the only top-named driver to do only short runs.

Menard was only 20th-quick in terms of 10-lap averages in final practice, which puts him near the bottom third of the grid. He’ll start 25th and it is going to take some great calls in the pits to get him track position. He can do it, but the odds are not in his favor.

McMurray did not qualify particularly well on Friday, but he was significantly better than practice. He improved from 33rd-fastest to 18th—and then posted the eighth-best lap in Happy Hour. He was not particularly strong in long runs during final practice, however, with only the 22nd-quickest speed.

 

Start

Driver

Qual Speed

Practice 1

Rank

Final Practice

Rank

Avg. Rank

               

1

Carl Edwards

      194.609

    189.920

21

           190.248

2

6.0

2

Joey Logano

      193.306

    192.143

3

           189.480

5

2.5

3

Martin Truex Jr.

      193.306

    192.892

1

           192.390

1

1.3

4

Chase Elliott

      193.036

    190.611

13

           187.918

16

8.3

5

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

      194.940

    190.034

19

           188.252

12

9.0

6

Denny Hamlin

      192.912

    190.148

18

           187.728

18

10.5

7

Ryan Blaney

      192.885

    191.184

10

           187.996

15

8.0

8

Brad Keselowski

      192.685

    192.164

2

           188.180

14

6.0

9

Matt Kenseth

      192.362

    190.792

11

           186.929

22

10.5

10

Austin Dillon

      192.349

    191.612

4

           188.232

13

6.8

11

Jimmie Johnson

      191.510

    191.360

6

           189.255

7

6.0

12

Trevor Bayne

      190.570

    189.934

20

           186.909

23

13.8

13

Brian Vickers

      192.905

    191.578

5

           186.233

28

11.5

14

Greg Biffle

      192.850

    191.232

8

           186.278

27

12.3

15

Kyle Busch

      192.644

    189.301

28

           189.507

3

11.5

16

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

      192.548

    189.401

26

           187.898

17

14.8

17

Kasey Kahne

      192.404

    190.638

12

           188.791

10

9.8

18

Jamie McMurray

      192.007

    188.686

33

           188.990

8

14.8

19

Ryan Newman

      191.918

    190.402

15

           187.149

20

13.5

20

Kyle Larson

      191.707

    191.225

9

           186.987

21

12.5

21

Kurt Busch

      191.598

    189.553

25

           189.381

6

13.0

22

Kevin Harvick

      191.537

    189.753

24

           188.791

11

14.3

23

AJ Allmendinger

      191.435

    191.238

7

           189.500

4

8.5

24

Aric Almirola

      191.340

    190.523

14

           187.669

19

14.3

25

Paul Menard

      192.417

    189.833

23

           186.690

25

18.3

26

Danica Patrick

      192.116

    189.893

22

           188.818

9

14.3

27

Brian Scott

      191.986

    189.029

30

           186.432

26

20.8

28

Regan Smith

      191.775

    190.369

16

           185.695

31

18.8

29

Matt DiBenedetto

      191.476

    188.088

35

           183.917

35

24.8

30

Ty Dillon

      191.286

    190.174

17

           184.641

33

20.0

31

David Ragan

      191.252

    188.199

34

           185.810

30

23.8

32

Casey Mears

      190.564

    189.228

29

           184.742

32

23.3

33

Landon Cassill

      190.228

    188.943

31

           184.313

34

24.5

34

Chris Buescher

      190.121

    189.308

27

           185.867

29

22.5

35

Michael Annett

      189.367

    187.461

36

           182.235

36

26.8

36

Clint Bowyer

      189.122

    188.838

32

           186.903

24

23.0

37

Cole Whitt

      188.193

    179.928

38

           182.186

37

28.0

38

Jeffrey Earnhardt

      185.522

    180.572

37

           178.136

39

28.5

39

Josh Wise

      184.963

    179.164

40

           176.505

40

29.8

40

Reed Sorenson

      181.562

    179.253

39

           178.277

38

29.3

 

 

10-Lap Averages

Avg

Final Practice

Rank

       

1

Austin Dillon

  184.633

1.0

2

Kasey Kahne

  184.599

2.0

3

Brad Keselowski

  184.335

3.0

4

Kevin Harvick

  184.070

4.0

5

Martin Truex Jr.

  183.928

5.0

6

Chase Elliott

  183.881

6.0

7

Matt Kenseth

  183.760

7.0

8

Jimmie Johnson

  183.606

8.0

9

Denny Hamlin

  183.593

9.0

10

Trevor Bayne

  183.530

10.0

11

Greg Biffle

  183.485

11.0

12

Kurt Busch

  183.157

12.0

13

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  183.083

13.0

14

Kyle Busch

  182.977

14.0

15

Ryan Blaney

  182.898

15.0

16

Brian Vickers

  182.820

16.0

17

Carl Edwards

  182.702

17.0

18

Brian Scott

  182.487

18.0

19

Joey Logano

  182.391

19.0

20

Paul Menard

  182.242

20.0

21

Clint Bowyer

  182.093

21.0

22

Jamie McMurray

  182.002

22.0

23

Ryan Newman

  181.971

23.0

24

Ty Dillon

  181.927

24.0

25

Kyle Larson

  181.557

25.0

26

Aric Almirola

  181.529

26.0

27

Regan Smith

  181.318

27.0

28

Casey Mears

  181.082

28.0

29

AJ Allmendinger

  180.805

29.0

30

Chris Buescher

  180.392

30.0

31

Michael Annett

179.986

31.0

32

Danica Patrick

  175.938

32.0

 

 


Source URL: https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/article/statistically-speaking/update-texas