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Chase Analytics: Kevin Harvick remains favorite to win title

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Now that we’ve made it past the craziness of Talladega, we can get back to more accurately forecasting how the rest of the Chase is going to play out.

The big news is the elimination of Brad Keselowski. He had started the Chase as the second biggest favorite to win the title. With him gone, Kevin Harvick now has a huge lead over everybody else, in terms of the odds of advancing and winning.

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Beyond Harvick, almost every other driver has about a coin flip’s chance of making it to Homestead. Remember, if the races were completely random and every driver was completely equal, that column on the left would show everyone with a 50/50 shot of advancing. What we see in reality is something very close to that, almost every driver between 41 and 55 percent.

Those numbers are based on historical results. That means the majority of the drivers left in the Chase are evenly matched against each other. Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards are all in that coin-flip group – all four of them are Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.

One crazy concept to watch: There is a five percent chance for the entire JGR team to advance to Homestead.

And take a look at Jimmie Johnson, who seemed to have a lot of momentum after his win a couple weeks ago. Our model has never fully gotten behind him yet, giving him only the fifth best odds, less than a 50 percent chance to advance.

“While the odds are close to 50/50, the current model has Hamlin and Johnson on the outside looking in after this round,” said Josh Browne, former Sprint Cup crew chief and now co-founder at Pit Rho. “There’s no doubt that this weekend’s race at Martinsville is likely the best opportunity for one of these two cars to grab the checkered flag.”

HOW THE PREDICTIONS WORK

With the help of Andrew Maness from racing analytics firm Pit Rho, we ran the numbers to show every driver’s shot of moving through each round of the Chase. The mathematical model was designed by both Maness and me, using past driver performance to predict future results. By running 100,000 simulations of how the rest of the season might play out, we see the most likely outcomes.

Eric Chemi runs data journalism for our sister network CNBC, including a heavy dose of sports analytics. Prior to that, his NASCAR forecasts have been on Sprint Cup television broadcasts, and he has consulted for Sprint Cup teams on strategy, statistics, data, and analytics. He graduated with an engineering degree from MIT.

Kyle Larson fastest in final practice for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson topped the final practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 with a speed at 186.400 mph.

The Cup points leader, Larson will start 39th in the race because his No. 42 Chevrolet didn’t clear inspection in time to qualify.

Ryan Blaney (185.861), Matt Kenseth (185.046), Kurt Busch (184.856) and Erik Jones (184.818) rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh fastest at 184.433 mph. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was 20th fastest at 182.648 mph.

Jimmie Johnson recorded the most laps in the session with 47.

Jamie McMurray had the best 10-lap average at 180.914 mph.

The session was stopped for a caution once after Brad Keselowski spun exiting Turn 4.

Click here for the full practice report.

Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed at 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams were held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race because it failed inspection three times.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes after neither qualified Thuraday because their cars didn’t clear inspection in time.