Chase Analytics: Toyotas strong pick to join Jimmie Johnson in Miami

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After a gutsy win by Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville Speedway, he’s locked into the championship round in Miami and shot up to the top of our title favorites.

The model didn’t fully believe in Johnson earlier this Chase, but his recent performance changed the computer’s mind. Johnson’s title chances have jumped from 9 to 10 to 23 percent in the last three weeks.

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Martinsville’s biggest loser was Kevin Harvick. Finishing 20th, Harvick’s title chances fell to 15 percent compared to 31 percent last week. He’s had four finishes of 20th or worse in the past 10 races. His 41 percent chance of advancing to the final four is mostly due to his ability to win in this round. Because of his recent inconsistency, he only has a 19 percent chance to get in on points.

You can think of the eight drivers in three groups: There’s Johnson by himself in the first group. Then you have five drivers, all with similar title odds between 13 and 17 percent.

Behind Johnson, we still see the strength of Joe Gibbs Racing: Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch are the three favorites to join Johnson at Homestead. In fact, all the Toyotas combined have a 47 percent chance of winning the title.

“The Hendrick stable seems to have found some recent speed at the 1.5-mile tracks,” said Josh Browne, former Sprint Cup crew chief and co-founder at Pit Rho. “With the 48’s recent finishes at Kansas and Charlotte in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go back-to-back this weekend. It’s tough to count out Harvick and his team – however, the mathematical model is not necessarily bullish on him.” 

Entering Martinsville, we discussed how Johnson and Hamlin needed this race as their best way to qualify for the final round. They combined to lead 140 laps. Unfortunately for Hamlin though, he didn’t win. He still has a good 62 percent chance of advancing, but that means there’s a 38 percent chance he won’t make it. A lot of risk for him.

At the bottom, there’s our final group: Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. Each has about a 10 percent chance of advancing and a measly two percent title odds. The two are trailing in points. It’s going to be hard for them to come back.

Surprisingly, Harvick is only two points ahead of Kurt Busch in the actual standings. But their odds of advancing are very different from each other – a bigger gap than we’d typically see from just two points. That’s because of what we talked about earlier: Harvick has a good shot of winning an upcoming race; Busch does not.

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 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.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: New Jersey

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After a week of NASCAR America returns today with the next edition of “50 States in 50 Show,” with a look at the state of New Jersey, which is the home of Martin Truex Jr., Hall of Fame nominee Ray Evernham and the subject of today’s segment, Wall Stadium Speedway.

The 1/3-mile speedway is located in Wall Township, which is about 40 miles east of the Trenton.

Evernham called into NASCAR America to discuss the track, which has been hosting races since 1950.

“Growing up on the Jershey shore, there was a lot of stock-car racing in that area,” Evernham said. “That was a pavement track and it was a Saturday night place to go. .. The racing was great. It’s because of the banked track. There was a lot of dirt tracks and flatter tracks around there, but at the time Wall promoted that it was banked just like Daytona (International Speedway).”

Watch the video for more from Evernham, Truex about the track.

 

 

NASCAR America: Aric Almirola recounts Kansas crash that caused back injury

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Last Saturday, Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports announced Almirola would miss at least eight to 12 weeks with a T5 compression fracture in his back. The injury is a result of a violent three-car accident the previous weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Following the announcement, Almirola sat down with NASCAR America to gives his account of the accident. The interview can be watched in the above video.

MORE: Almirola’s greatest pain is not being able to fulfill children’s wishes

Following Almirola’s account, NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty discussed the accident and the state of safety in the sport today.

With the many years his family has been in the sport and the tragedies it has experienced seen, including the death of his son Adam Petty in a 2000 Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor speedway, Kyle Petty said Almirola’s accident hits “close to home.”

“When you’ve been in the seat and another family trusts you to take care of their son or their husband or their father, whatever it may be, and it’s our responsibility to look after Aric,” Petty said. “We talk about frontal impacts, we talk about rear impacts, we talk about side impacts. There’s been so much written and spoken about concussion. … But how many times do you see a car fall out of the air? You can’t cover everything. That’s what NASCAR continues to look at, that’s what we all continue to look at. But this sport is never, ever, ever, ever going to be completely safe.”

Watch the rest of the video below for all of Petty and Kligerman’s thoughts on the Almirola and safety in NASCAR.

Ryan Blaney to drive Kyle Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in Southern 500

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The countdown to this years’ throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway began Monday with Ryan Blaney revealing his retro paint scheme on NASCAR America.

With the help of NBC Sports analysts Kyle Petty, Blaney announced his No. 21 Ford will have Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in the Sept. 3 Southern 500, which will air on NBCSN.

This is the third year for NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway

Kyle Petty’s Ford Thunderbird from the 1987 season. Source: Wood Brothers Racing.

Petty drove for Wood Brothers Racing from 1985-88, when he earned two of his eight Cup wins with the team and scored 19 top five and 48 top-10 finishes. He placed in the top 10 in points in three of his four seasons with the Wood Brothers.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Petty’s win in the Coca-Cole 600.

Blaney will be making his third start in the Southern 500. His best finish in his first two starts was 13th last season.

“When he was with us, Kyle used to build his own aluminum seats,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said in  press release.. “He won a total of eight Cup races. He’s a talented singer and guitar player. He’s done great work with the Victory Junction Camp and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, and he’s an excellent TV commentator.

“Kyle can do anything he wants to do. He’s that talented. We’re happy to have his name back on our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion for the Southern 500 at Darlington.”

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See the characters NASCAR drivers will voice in ‘Cars 3’

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Last February it was announced that NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr. would lend their voices to Pixar’s new movie Cars 3.

Now it’s less than a month from the film’s June 16 release date.

While the character’s names were part of the February announcement, NASCAR revealed the character designs Monday afternoon on Twitter.

Blaney’s character is Ryan Inside Laney.

Wallace’s character is Bubba Wheelhouse

Elliott’s character is Chase Racelott

Suarez’s character is Danny Swervez.

The animated movie will also feature the voices of Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Ray Evernham, Humpy Wheeler, Mike Joy and Shannon Spake.

Richard Petty and and Waltrip were voices in the original Cars (2006) in addition to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mario Andretti.

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